Ricky Ponting November 5, 2012

'Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand will be main contenders'

Who will win the Champions Trophy? How will the top players fare? Ricky Ponting answers

Who do you expect to be the star players at the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy?
The South African team, at the moment, are right up there. Amla is probably the best batsman in both Test and ODI forms. He's played well in English conditions in the last few months and could have a massive tournament. Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina - although English conditions might not suit the Indian players - are hugely talented and could have a massive impact. Sangakkara is just getting better and better with each year that goes by. The last few years he's been outstanding, and has done well in English conditions in the past. Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott stand out for England. Trott is just so consistent at what he does, and Bell, when he's playing well particularly at the top, could be looking to bat through and make big hundreds.

And the Australians?
Shane Watson's going well now and, along with Michael Clarke, will be the two guys leading the way batting wise for Australia. And our young quicks should have a good time if they get favourable conditions - Pattinson, Starc and Cummins - they could play a huge part, all those guys are bowling close to 150kph and swinging the ball, so will be very dangerous. I've never seen a more exciting group of young fast bowlers in Australia since I've been playing. When you add in Siddle and Hilfenhaus, it's a great attack. There's another kid playing in the Champions League at the moment for New South Wales, Josh Hazlewood, who's a very good bowler. The talent and stocks are very, very good. A couple are still finding their feet at the international level, but next summer and beyond, you'll see these guys performing as very good bowlers.

How do you rate Australia's chances at the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy?
They've got as good a chance as any team, no doubt about it. I know they were very disappointed with results and their form in the UK recently, but England played very well and we were coming off a break from the off season. Come next summer, the boys will be ready to go. I'd single out Australia, South Africa, England, and New Zealand as being the main contenders, considering the conditions. New Zealand always seem to find a way to make the quarters and semis in big tournaments.

England face Australia in Group A at Edgbaston. A good chance to gain the upper hand before the Ashes, perhaps?
I don't think either team will be focusing on the Ashes - when you're in the Champions Trophy, they'll be focused on that. You can guarantee both teams will be out there to play the way they always play - with great rivalry and great respect for each other.

Do you expect England and Australia to progress from Group A as opposed to New Zealand and Sri Lanka?
Tough pool, that one. England should know the conditions like the back of their hand, so yes, Australia and England should be the two favourites to progress, but in ODIs you just never know. New Zealand always find a way to progress!

Who do you think will progress from Group B, among India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies?
South Africa and India.

Did you enjoy playing cricket in England?
I loved every opportunity to play in UK. It's the one tour - whether it's Ashes or not - that all young Australians want to be a part of. The history, the grounds… even little things like travelling around on the coach for a few weeks or months at a time is a great way to see the place and also to learn a lot about team-mates and friends whilst you're away. Hands down, England is my favourite place in the world to tour and play cricket.

What about the three Champions Trophy grounds - The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff?
I've got lots of good and bad memories of playing at The Oval - we've won, we've lost and drawn when we've needed to win, but it's such a great place to play. Great ground, very good wicket to bat on, very fast outfield and a just a great vibe of playing in London.

Edgbaston is probably the ground I've played the least at in England - last time round in the Champions Trophy in 2004, England beat us in the semi-final.

I've not got too many fond memories of playing in Cardiff. We should have won the 2009 Ashes Test and we lost the ODI game against England comfortably, and lost to Bangladesh there too a few years before that. The ground is totally different to when I started playing in the UK, but when we played the games there in 2009, it was fantastic and had great crowds there.

And could it be a big year for you personally, in 2013?
I'm not looking forward too far yet. I've got a few Tests left to play in 2012 first, and that's what I'm focused on. Hopefully, I can continue to do enough to help Australia climb back up that tree to world No. 1.

You enjoyed a short but successful spell at Somerset. Can you envisage another spell in county cricket in England at some stage?
Never say never. I really enjoyed my brief stint at Somerset. I arrived at the club and things weren't going to plan. They hadn't won a game in a long time. I got there and we managed to string a few wins together. I'm a cricket lover and cricket tragic, and to get a feel for what county guys do day in day out was a lot of fun. It's a great club full of great people.

See the best eight teams in one-day international cricket take part in the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2013 - tickets for The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are on sale on 5 November at icc-cricket.com (pre-registration open now)