In an interview today, Mike Hussey predicted that arch-rivals England and Australia will fight it out for the 2017 Champions Trophy title in the finals of the tournament scheduled to be held on June 18th. The two sides are placed in Group A and are first scheduled to clash on June 10 at Edgbaston.
England have been hailed as the favorites to win the Champions Trophy tournament this year owing to their great run in the ODI format in the recent past. However, the Australian side isn't too far behind and with in-form players like David Warne and Steve Smith and a fierce pace attack, the Kangaroo's can't be written off easily.
In an interview with cricket.com.au, Mike Hussey was quizzed about the finalists for the tournament and he picked the two arch-rivals as his choice.
"Australia, and as much as I hate to say it, England, It’s so hard in these tournaments because they’re all so good.England are a big chance to win it all. They’ve got a good all-around team. They’ll be well-led and well-coached. They know their home conditions so well and will have that home-ground support.", Hussey said.
"As for Australia, they’ve got a nicely balanced squad.There are some exciting X-factor players there and some serious pace bowlers.You’ve got the guns being David Warner and Steve Smith but somebody like a Chris Lynn could be an X-factor if he gets going." , he added.
The Ashes rivals have met 4 times in Champions Trophy history and have two wins each to their name. England drew first blood when Michael Vaughan led his side to a six-wicket win at Edgbaston itself in the 2004 edition of the tournament.
Australia got their revenge two years later with a six-wicket victory over England in Jaipur courtesy Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson who took three wickets each. And it was Australia again in 2009 who romped England at Centurion, South Africa with a nine-wicket victory thanks to an unbeaten 252-run partnership between skipper Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson.
Finally, England inflicted a 48-run defeat over Australia in the last edition of the tournament when the hosts rode on brilliant performances by Ian Bell and James Anderson.
However, the English side has not won a major 50 over tournament in over 42-years but experts including Hussey believe that the drought can be easily overcome in the span of the coming three weeks.
The 41-year-old believes that the leadership of Eoin Morgan and management by coach Trevor Bayliss will strengthen England's chances in the tournament.
"Pressure is something they’ll have to deal with but I think they’ll be well led," Hussey said.
"Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss will keep their minds where they need to be. They’ll keep them relaxed, really calm and that’s where they’ll come in and play a really important part.", he added.
"If you’ve got a coaching staff that’s uptight or too energetic, sometimes all that extra external pressure and stress can get to the players", he concluded.
Did you know, Ben Stokes holds the record for the fastest 250 in Tests for which he took 196 balls.
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