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The Preview by George Dobell
June 6, 2013
They may never have a better chance, either. The changes to ODI regulations - particularly the use of two new balls - and home advantage are substantial positives for an England side boasting more players with traditional cricket skills than the explosive match turners sometimes associated with modern limited-overs cricket. England's top-order of Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott may not hit as many sixes as other sides, but they may also bat a lot longer, seeing off the new balls at their most potent and providing a solid platform for those who follow.
The absence of Kevin Pietersen with a knee injury is a substantial loss. Without him, there is a large onus on Eoin Morgan and, to a lesser extent, the two 22-year-olds, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, to provide impetus to innings that are expected to enjoy solid starts but may well require acceleration. The lack of experience of Root and Buttler - they have played 11 and nine ODIs respectively - is one area of concern but, bearing in mind that this event is seen more as a marker on the road to the World Cup than a destination in itself, their early elevation may prove to be the making of them. Neither will be overawed.
The bowling attack is likely to prove almost identical to the Test side. Certainly the four senior bowlers - James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann - form an impressive unit, with the seam of Tim Bresnan and the spin of James Tredwell the most likely to make up the final place depending on conditions. The option of selecting Ravi Bopara, an underrated bowler but seemingly a fading force as a batsman, and Chris Woakes, who can change games with the bat but who still looks more potent with the red ball, should probably be considered Plan B.
The appointment of Ashley Giles as England's limited-overs coach may prove to be the final piece in the jigsaw. Giles' elevation means England have a coach with the time to plan and prepare in detail without the distraction of Test series. No longer is limited-overs cricket seen as the lesser game in England and no longer are players selected for the ODI side as a halfway house on the road to Test cricket. Continuity of selection, a policy for so long applied only to Test cricket, has allowed this England side to develop greater role awareness and confidence and their form in England over recent years justifies their position as one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Despite the sobering affects of defeat to New Zealand, anything less than a semi-final appearance would be considered a bitter disappointment.
His keeping remains a work in progress - he is second choice in Somerset's County Championship side - and there may be times, in helpful bowling conditions, when he struggles with the gloves. But England believe he has much scope in that department and he appears to have the temperament to cope with the inevitable setbacks he will encounter.
But their greatest strength may also be their greatest weakness. There is little margin for error in England's strategy. While the likes of Root and Trott could be pressed into service as support bowlers, England will generally expect their five main bowlers to deliver 10 over spells. If one of them experiences an off-day or is injured, England will be over-reliant on part-timers. Similarly, if the top-order batting is knocked over quickly, an inexperienced middle-order may be exposed before they are ready.
Champions Trophy history
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala