Down on their luck
Twelve countries have assembled in England to contest the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy. Wisden Cricinfo takes a look at the teams, their prospects, and some of the names to look out for:
After chopping and changing for most of the summer, West Indies' one-day team now has a settled look to it, even though they needed to stall for a while before retaining Brian Lara as captain. They have the kind of batting talent that most others can only dream of, while the bowling attack consists of a hotchpotch of the tried, tested and discarded, and the young and eager. It's not a combination that has been treated kindly in Test cricket, but in the one-day game, short flashes of brilliance can turn matches. With first-hand experience of English conditions this year, and first-round matches against two demoralised opponents, West Indies have more than a ghost of a chance.
Man to watch
Chris Gayle had always been prone to manic bursts: now, however, he intersperses these with periods of accumulating, and when he bats through an innings, the opposition bowlers know about it all right. Seven of his nine hundreds have resulted in victories, and even the two that got away were scores over 140 that helped the team pass 300. Though Gayle's lack of footwork still confounds, his remarkable hand-eye coordination more than compensates. But, like the rest of the West Indies side, he has been inconsistent; large hundreds are bracketed by poor scores. His innocuous spin is well utilised, and hugely under-estimated.
New kid on the block
With bat and ball, there's a touch of pluck to Dwayne Bravo. He learnt his lessons quickly during the series in England, and impressed experienced players with his attitude and appreciation of the West Indian legacy. His fortunes were inversely proportional to those of his team, but it was clear that in Bravo, West Indies had quite a talent. In the midst of all the carnage, the image of a defiant Bravo remained: defying England's bowlers, defying England's batsmen, defying West Indies' penchant for self-destruction. But defiance isn't everything - he'll need allies if West Indies are to progress. Rahul Bhatia
For the first time in ten years, South Africa go into a one-day tournament as outsiders, and in the eyes of some, even no-hopers. Ten consecutive defeats in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, where they were largely listless, have left them vulnerable even against Bangladesh. Herschelle Gibbs has managed just one fifty in his last 22 games and no adequate replacements have been found for Gary Kirsten and Jonty Rhodes. To add to their woes, South Africa will face Brian Lara's West Indies in the plumb tie of the pool, and it was a Lara special at Newlands last year that shoved South Africa towards an early exit from their own World Cup party. But Graeme Smith's inspirational abilities, a surplus of allrounders - Lance Klusener, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock and Nicky Boje - and a certain Jacques Kallis could produce a different script.
Man To watch
With an average of nearly 66 since the World Cup, Kallis is undoubtably South Africa's linchpin. He will also have fond memories of this tournament, as he was one of the chief architects of South Africa's triumph in the very first edition at Dhaka in 1998, when was declared the Man of the Series. Kallis's 5 for 30 demolished West Indies in the final that day, and he has relished playing against them ever since.
New kid on the block
Jean-Paul Duminy, 20, could turn out to be South Africa's surprise weapon in the tournament. Like many of the others, he couldn't come to grips with the slow and low pitches in Sri Lanka, but the conditions in England will be a sea apart. As a floater in the middle-order and a part-time left-arm spinner, Duminy may be the man to complete the jigsaw. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
Still a long, long way from living up to their lofty status, but Bangladesh are far removed from the disjointed rabble who bombed out of the last World Cup with defeats to Kenya and Canada. Under the firm-but-fair guidance of Dav Whatmore, an emphasis on basic discipline and fitness is beginning to pay dividends, and their recent tour of the Caribbean demonstrated that the gap between them and the rest is closing, albeit slowly. The loss of their captain and leading batsmen, Habibul Bashar, is a grievous blow, but it could yet force the rest of a young squad to shelve their indiscretions.
Man to watch
If Ashley Giles can take 21 wickets on England's midsummer pitches, then Mohammad Rafique, another spinner flushed with confidence at present, could also pose some significant questions - not least to the same West Indian left-handers who faltered against England this year. Quite apart from his ebullient bowling, Rafique is a tailend biffer who delights in the unorthodox, and has a Test century to his name to prove it.
New kid on the block
This time last year, 23-year-old Rajin Saleh had not been seen at international level. Now he is captain of Bangladesh, where his abilities are about to be scrutinized by millions on a global stage. It is a daunting prospect, but judging by his fearless approach to batting - he is never afraid to take his share of blows - Saleh is very much equipped for the task ahead. His devotion to physical fitness sets him apart from his peers, and suggests he will lead by example in all aspects of Bangladesh's development. Andrew Miller
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