Aussies to strike first as summer of cricket hots up

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With more name changes than Prince and the ignominy of being scheduled whenever there’s a few weeks going spare, the Champions Trophy has struggled to find a place in the hearts of cricket fans.

This year’s event, set to be the last as the competition makes way for the World Test Championship, is wide open.

South Africa lead the ante-post betting at 7/2 but the absence of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis does not inspire confidence in their quest to finally shake off their ‘chokers’ tag.

Similarly unappetising is the 9/2 available on a Kevin Pietersen-less England. Taking into account their dire record in major tournaments and an outdated approach to the format, this price, based primarily on home advantage, seems too short.

Switching to a 50 over game may seem like a marathon for India’s IPL saturated players but even with MS Dhoni’s ice cool hand on the rudder, is 6/1 worth a look?

In Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan boast arguably the most dangerous slow bowler in the world but a fragile batting line and a propensity to implode earn Pakistan their 7/1 price.

Sri Lanka (13/2), led by new skipper Angelo Matthews, have the experience but their phalanx of mystery spinners may be rendered redundant on English wickets.

Spectators should pay close attention to the action when Christopher Henry Gayle is plying his trade for the West Indies. The master blaster can win matches on his own, but it’s a team game, thus everybody’s second favourite side is 9/1.

Supposed minnows, New Zealand offer value at 10/1, a price that England’s players may fancy after being on the end of two comprehensive losses recently.

So, although it may pain the home nation’s fans, salivating at the prospect of handing out an Ashes mauling, Australia at 9/2 are the way forward. They have won the last two Champions Trophies and three of the last four World Cups. With brutal strikers at the top of the order, backed up by a youthful aggressive pace unit, the Baggy Greens have the firepower, providing they do their homework of course.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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