At Net World Sports we’re crazy about cricket. Here we take a look at three players set to steal the show in the ICC Champions Trophy.
A carnival of cricket is set to land on British shores as England and Wales host the eighth edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. India were crowned champions last time out, with a ludicrous over from Ishant Sharma breaking the hearts of the hosts at a rain-curtailed Edgbaston in 2013.
English tears have since dried up, and having dispatched 7 of their last 10 one day international opponents, the rejuvenated Eoin Morgan-led side are on the hunt for revenge. But they are not alone.
Australia and South Africa are hotly tipped, and Pakistan have a point to prove. Sri Lanka’s shock defeat to Scotland could have lit a fire under their ageing squad, while upstarts Bangladesh and New Zealand will fancy their chances at bloodying the nose of the favourites. With eight of the world’s greatest cricketing nations dueling for supremacy, the prestigious ODI competition promises to be a cracker!
As droves of cricket fanatic’s swarm to the Oval, Edgbaston and Sophia Gardens, all eyes will be transfixed on the performances of the star players. Shikhar Dhawan’s brilliant batting not only helped India to the title, but earned him the accolade of player of the series at the last tournament.
But who will be the standout star of 2017s Champions Trophy? Here we take a look at 3 of the most electrifying players who have the ability to light up the tournament.
With his right-arm, medium fast bowling style, aggressive batting and high-quality close catching, the New Zealand-born all-rounder has all the tools to end England’s wait for a maiden 50-over global tournament. A formidable opponent, boasting powerful left-handed batting skills, the Durham dynamo’s abilities have caught the eye of the cricketing world. Suitors in India have been compelled to dust off their chequebooks.
Rising Pune Supergiant of the Indian Premier League secured Stokes’s services during the IPL 2017 auction for a mammoth fee of £1.6m, making him the most expensive foreign player in the lucrative league’s history. His instinctive, unpredictable style has seen him leave a lasting impression in India. Earning the moniker of the IPL’s most valuable player, and notching 316 runs and 12 wickets en route to the final, he has lived up to his bumper price tag. But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Stokes.
Courage and character are the hallmarks of a top-level sportsman. Stepping up with ball in hand in the death over of the World T20 final, Stokes would have been confident of repeating his semi-final heroics. Until disaster struck.
Running into a red-hot Carlos Braithwaite, he was hit for four successive sixes as victory eluded England. Cutting a dejected figure post-match, the heartbreak could have irreparably derailed Stokes’s momentum. That it didn’t is testament to the man.
True greats prove their worth by dusting themselves off and responding to setbacks. For Stokes the learning curve has seen him mature as a player, and having exorcised his Braithwaite demons by bowling him out earlier this year, he is England’s talisman heading into the ICC Champions Trophy. At 25 years of age he has tasted the bitterest of disappointments. Yet it is those two defining attributes which have allowed him to use the experience to fuel his rise to the top. Courage and character.
Similarly to Stokes, England have risen from the ashes of their own disappointment. Humbled by Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group stages of the 2015 World Cup, their swashbuckling style and consistent white-ball cricket has seen them set the bar high ahead of the Champions Trophy.
Stokes has become emblematic of England’s resurgence as a force in limited overs cricket and he holds the host nations hopes in his hands. With experience on his side, look for Stokes to produce breathtaking performances and fire England all the way from Group A to the final.
Achieving the ultimate accolade of Man of the Series during the 2015 World Cup, Mitchell Starc is no stranger to the dizzying heights of international cricket. Refreshed, rejuvenated and revved up following an injury sustained during the Baggy Greens’ tour of India, Starc will be raring to go when Australia get underway in their opening clash with New Zealand at Edgbaston. And the formidable left-arm pacer will be confident of his sides’ chances of going all the way.
Starc will potentially be the beating heart of Australia’s most deadly weapon heading into the Champions Trophy. Dubbed the ‘fearsome foursome’, the quartet of Starc, James Pattinson, Pat Cummings and Josh Hazelwood are set to be unleashed together as the aggressive Aussies look to blow
away their rivals. The ferocious four-pronged pace attack has the firepower to leave any batsmen stumped, with Starc likely to be the centre-piece of their offensive bowling.
The lethal left-armer is widely hailed as one of the most dangerous bowlers in white-ball cricket, boasting arguably the most devastating yorker in the international game. There are certainly question marks hanging over his fitness, but if he’s firing on all cylinders there are few who can handle the heat of the super speedster.
Starc holds the record for claiming 100 ODI wickets in the least amount of games, an achievement he recorded during the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka.
Taking on the fast-bowler will be a daunting prospect for the best batsmen that the Champions Trophy has to offer. With the English conditions favouring pace bowlers, the stage is set for Starc to shake off the post-injury rust and produce a blistering bowling display worthy of claiming the ICC Champions Trophy for a record third-time.
Ranked as the number one ODI team in the world, South Africa will swagger into the Champions Trophy full of confidence. Holding whitewash wins over tournament hopefuls Sri Lanka and Australia, as well as a thrashing of England in the final match of their recent ODI series, South Africa are a formidable outfit. History is not on their side, however.
Always the bridesmaid, the Proteas have failed to reach the final of the last six Champions Trophy tournaments despite strong showings in the group stages. Writing a new chapter in their history will be no easy feat. The pressure falls on the broad shoulders of captain and star batsmen AB de Villiers.
Ending 19 years of hurt and vanquishing the memories of a 2013 Champions Trophy semi-final defeat at the hands of the hosts are the skipper’s primary objectives. Having curbed his involvement in Test cricket, it’s clear that the captain’s focus is on ODI success.
Buoyed by his ranking as number one limited overs batsman in the world, De Villiers will be confident that his powerful batting can deliver a blistering Champions Trophy performance that will reverberate all the way to Johannesburg.
De Villiers’ recent form has been questionable to say the least, recording only one half-century during his IPL campaign with Royal Challengers Bangalore. With his sights set on winning the Champions Trophy for the first time, form will go out of the window, however.
If he can bring his innovative and acrobatic batting style to the forefront at the tournament, then there are no limits to what he can achieve. Expect the versatile batsman to recapture his golden touch, and record some big scores to set South Africa on their way.