In the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy the demand on bowlers will be greater than ever before due to the improved scoring rates of teams across the world.
The game has never been more slanted towards batsmen, with restrictions over line and field placings giving bowlers and captains headaches in the limited-overs format.
Therefore there is great pressure to take wickets to limit the massive totals that sides can impose, with skills tested to the maximum.
Even flawless performances are sometimes not good enough to get teams over the line due to the need for complete performances from the entire bowling unit.
We’ll now look at three men who will play a vital role in racking up the wickets to drive their side on to success at the tournament, with the latest betting odds.
Starc was the star of the 2015 World Cup as he walked away with the man of the tournament award. The 27-year-old took 22 wickets over the course of the competition, including six in the final to hand his side their fifth crown in their victory against New Zealand.
He is arguably the best fast bowler in the world on his day and his statistics in ODIs strengthen his claim, with an incredible average of 19.88. In Starc’s 65 matches for the Baggy Greens he has taken 129 wickets – just short of striking twice in every appearance.
The left-arm quick has the ability to bowl with seam and swing at the start of the innings, but he alos boasts the deadly precision to fire in yorkers along with subtle variations at the death. The multiple weapons in his arsenal make him a fierce opponent for batsmen and Australia will be relying on him to be at his best to lead their inexperienced bowling unit.
Starc missed the IPL season after suffering a foot injury in his side’s Test series against India. The Baggy Greens will be hopeful that he will be able to shake off the rust and the issue as entering the tournament without his presence could leave them exposed against the stronger outfits.
The 27-year-old appears to be a player that relishes the big occasion as displayed in his brilliance to deliver the World Cup to Australia two years ago. A similar outing on English soil could drive his side to their third Champions Trophy and further enhance his reputation.
Therefore backing Starc at odds of +1000 with Ladbrokes is the bet to take, providing excellent value for money.
Tahir enters the Champions Trophy as the number one ranked bowler in the world, but will have to prove his worth in the competition to retain the position.
The 38-year-old has been a force in ODIs for the Proteas in his 75 matches, taking 127 wickets at an impressive average of 24.18. His strike rate is even better, notching a scalp almost every five overs, while his economy rate of 4.57 provides his side with a miserly operator in the middle of the innings.
Tahir’s form was solid in the IPL for Rising Pune Supergiant, striking in almost every one of his appearances. However, his first outing for the Proteas against England did not go to plan as he ended the contest wicketless and was dispatched for 68 off his nine overs.
The veteran will have to tailor his game to conditions and rely on his variations to trouble opposing batsmen as the turning tracks of the subcontinent will not be there to aid his threat.
However, given that he is renowned for keeping the runs off the board – Tahir’s opportunities will be boosted by the fact that batsmen will have to attack him.
South Africa have one of the most potent batting line-ups in the tournament and teams will know they will have to pile on the runs to beat them, opening up an avenue for the 38-year-old to strike with regularity.
Tahir may have to find his rhythm, but he is capable of racking multiple wickets in a game, which is why backing him at odds of +1400 with Bet365 makes him an intriguing option.
Woakes has been a vital part of England’s resurgence since the 2015 World Cup, taking over the mantle as the leader of the attack with Stuart Broad and James Anderson focusing on Test matches.
The 28-year-old’s performances for the Three Lions over the course of the past three years earned him a contract in the IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders, where he continued to enhance his credentials.
On his return to England duty he fired from the off against South Africa, claiming four wickets inthe Three Lions’ 72-run win over the Proteas at Headingley.
He has been in excellent form with the ball even against formidable opponents in India, Pakistan and against South Africa, bringing his average down to 31.56 with 89 strikes to his name in his 65 matches.
Woakes’ average should continue to tumble on home soil due to his knowledge of conditions and his ability to strike early and late in the innings. He like Tahir will be aided by the fact that batsmen will be forced to take an aggressive approach against him due to the power of England’s batting card.
The 28-year-old’s strike rate of 33.8 highlights his ability to claim scalps with regularity, while he has eight four-wicket hauls and two five-wicket hauls to his name.
Given that England are expected to make a deep surge in the competition – Woakes will likely have the benefit of extra games on potential rivals. Therefore taking his odds at +1600 with Coral is a good bet to take considering the form of the Warwickshire man and the Three Lions.
Mitchell Starc To Be Top Bowler ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 18th June 2017
Imran Tahir To Be Top Bowler ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 18th June 2017
Chris Woakes To Be Top Bowler ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 18th June 2017