The first matches of the Champions Trophy are from Group A
Thursday 1st June
England v Bangladesh (The Oval)
Hosts England begin their three group matches against the outsiders of the eight teams in the competition. With only three games per team and two of four teams to go through to the semi-finals a loss isn’t necessarily critical but makes it tough to qualify.
England warmed up for the Champions trophy for with a 2-1 win over South Africa. They have been backed into favouritism for this tournament and their strengths are now well known. Since the terrible performance at the 2015 world cup, the new coaching team and younger players have installed an aggressive approach with a batting line up packed with match-winners, good fielding and competitive bowling.
Bangladesh are dangerous outsiders. For much of the last seven years, Bangladesh were ranked No. 9 in ODIs. But series wins over Pakistan, India and South Africa in 2015 have led to a transformation from a team capable of winning one off matches to one that was competitive at the highest level. They have three or four world-class cricketers themselves and that makes them dangerous opponents.
Now, of course, England in early June is a long way away from their preferred conditions but the pitches should be good and matches high scoring if the weather is reasonable. They could well upset at least one of the three bigger teams in this group.
Odds here are as we would expect. England are priced at 1/5 and Bangladesh 4/1 to win the game with William Hill and that seems fair enough. I submarkets its difficult to back England: Top batsman because the batting lineup is deep. For Bangladesh, it is slightly easier as the gap between their best players and the remainder of the team is wider. In the Bangladesh top batsman market Tamim Iqbal stands out. At the age of 28 he has played an incredible 169 ODIs scoring over 5400 runs with 44 scores over 50including 8 hundred. At the top of the order, he is a fast scorer and big hitter and ideally suited to the game under the current regulations
The 3-1 available on him to top score for Bangladesh with all green listed bookmakers here should be supported.
Friday 2nd June
Australia v New Zealand (Edgbaston)
Australia are one of the favourites for the competition. Their batting centres around Warner and Smith and in Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Pattinson their pace quartet of the future is fit and together in a major competition at last.
New Zealand made the final of the 2015 world cup in this format and the team has been regenerated since then. Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, and Grant Elliott have retired. Within this squad: Corey Anderson, Mitchell McClenaghan, and Adam Milne have been recalled.
A core of senior players remain from the 2015 side - each of them in their prime and looking to make it to the World Cup in 2019. There is the big three in the top four - Martin Guptill, Williamson, and Ross Taylor - while Trent Boult and Tim Southee are impressive white-ball bowlers.
Since the beginning of the 2015 World Cup, Martin Guptill is the second highest run-scorer in ODIs with 2222, just behind David Warner (2244). Of players to have bowled 100 ODI overs since the start of 2016, Mitchell Santner has the lowest economy rate (4.59) of anyone who will appear in the Champions Trophy.
The question is if 1 through 11 they can go toe to toe with the big two in the group? Here the market assumes not, Australia are 4/7 New Zealand 7/4 with William Hill. I am tempted to support New Zealand at the price here.