Scratchy Aussies up against England today
Two-time defending champions they might be, but Australia are looking more vulnerable than ever as they brace up for their Champions Trophy Group A opener against confident Ashes rivals England here on Saturday. Their patchy form aside, Aussies have a major worry to deal with as skipper Michael Clarke’s long-standing back problem has flared up once again, making him a doubtful starter.
The inspirational skipper is a crucial cog in the Australian scheme of things given that his batting form has more often than not been the difference between a win and loss for the team in the past few months. England, on the other hand, would be looking to flourish in familiar conditions even though they endured an ODI series loss to a rather weak New Zealand just before the Champions Trophy. But an overall assessment of their ODI stats would reveal that since 2010, England have won 23 and lost only 11 of the 37 matches they have played at home.
A look at the team sheets gives a fair idea of just why the hosts would be the favourites. Australia, a team well past its glory days, is struggling to cope with what has been a tormenting transitional phase.
The side’s batting has looked brittle and this frailty was most recently exposed in the warm-up match against India last week when they were bowled out for just 65 runs while a chasing a steep 309. Runs would also be expected from the likes of openers David Warner and Phil Hughes.