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Former Australia captain Ian Chappell feels that South Africa, Australia, England and India are the four frontrunners to win the Champions Trophy next month.
England will host the tournament, which already gives them an advantage. However, Chappell believes that last week’s terrorist attack in Manchester, which saw 22 people killed in a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert, will unite the players and spur them on to win the tournament, which is something they have not done before.
“The English are renowned for their stoicism in times of adversity and this trait will be fully tested under the circumstances,” he wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo. “Some players will cope better than others, but the ones who will fare the best are those who can overcome any anxieties and maintain their focus on cricket while they are out on the field.”
Meanwhile, even though the Australian players are involved in a heated pay dispute with Cricket Australia, Chappell pointed out that he expects it to encourage them to go all the way.
“The Australians are currently embroiled in a divisive pay dispute with their board, but the altercation has only served to unite the players,” he wrote. “The sense that this dispute will further galvanise the Australian team was reinforced by skipper Steven Smith, when he indicated that winning the Champions Trophy would help the players in their negotiations with Cricket Australia.”
In regards to India, who won the last edition of the competition in 2013, Chappell admitted that their pace bowlers are not as good as Australia, England or South Africa’s, but nonetheless, he lauded them for choosing a well-balanced bowling attack.
“India don’t have the pace of the other three top bowling sides, but they do possess a well-balanced attack, capable of taking wickets in any conditions,” he added.
As for South Africa, the 73-year-old conceded that the Proteas are stocked to the brim with talent when it comes to their batting and bowling line-up.
“South Africa are the fourth powerhouse team and, even without the injured Dale Steyn, they possess a strong pace attack,” he wrote. “They also have the wily legspinner Imran Tahir seeking wickets in the middle overs, which is a crucial part of playing 50-over cricket successfully.
“The South African batting line-up is also powerful, but the team are yet to overcome the knockout-stage hoodoo that dogs them in tournaments. Despite assurances from skipper AB de Villiers in the 2015 World Cup that this was a thing of the past, they have done nothing to brush the monkey off their back.”