Australia's last chance to get their campaign started
For Australia this is a must-win game; for England, a victory would continue their winning momentum into the semi-finals, but their real incentive must surely be the chance to eliminate their oldest foe
Which was the only undefeated team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup? It wasn't Spain, for although they finished the tournament as champions, they lost a game to Switzerland in the group stage. No, the only side that went through the 2010 World Cup unbeaten was New Zealand, who drew all three of their group matches but failed to progress to the knockouts. It is a piece of trivia that pops up frequently in quizzes, but why is it relevant to the 2017 Champions Trophy? Because it is just possible that Australia could find themselves the answer to a similar question. If their final group match against England is washed out, and should England then fail to win the tournament, Australia would emulate the All Whites in 2010 in achieving an equally underwhelming exit.
Such has been the frustration for Australia throughout this competition. Since they secured victory over Sri Lanka in a warm-up game at The Oval, Australia have had three games washed out: one further warm-up, and two matches in the tournament proper. Their third match, against England, is at Edgbaston, where not a single game has yet been played in this tournament without being affected by rain. The forecast for Saturday suggests rain in the morning and in the evening, which could allow enough time during daylight hours to complete a match - if the Met Office knows its stuff. Then again, if the past couple of days in the UK have proven anything, it is that the art of prediction is difficult, even for the experts.
The scenario in Group A is simple. England are through to the semi-finals no matter what, and so too will Australia be if they beat England in this game. In the event of Australia losing or the game being washed out, Bangladesh will qualify alongside England. So for Australia this is a must-win game; for England, a victory would continue their winning momentum into the semi-finals, but their real incentive must surely be the chance to eliminate their oldest foe before they've even got started in the competition.
England WWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first) Australia LLWWW
Fleming: Probably the right time to replace Jason Roy
In the spotlight
Who would you say is the leading ODI wicket taker of the past 12 months? Mitchell Starc? Kagiso Rabada? Nope. The answer is Liam Plunkett, the England fast bowler who is enjoying a career renaissance nearly 12 years after he made his debut for England. Plunkett is still only 32, with potentially several years of international cricket ahead of him, and in the one-day format he is peaking. Over the past year Plunkett has taken 43 ODI wickets, more than any other player (although Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, currently in the West Indies, might have overtaken him by the time this game starts). And a pair of four-fors to start the Champions Trophy means Plunkett is in fine form heading towards the business end of the tournament.
Despite the wet weather, most of the Australians who have been selected in the first two games have either had a chance to bat or a decent spell with the ball, or in the case of Matthew Wade, kept wicket for nearly 90 overs. The exception is Glenn Maxwell, whose entire contribution so far has been a solitary over that cost nine runs against Bangladesh. If Plunkett has experienced a career renaissance over the past year, Maxwell has found himself at something of a career crossroads in the same period, struggling to hold his place in Australia's side and in one case even being dropped by Victoria. And yet in the same time he has struck maiden centuries in Test and T20 international cricket. Maxwell has curiously been overtaken by Travis Head in Australia's spin-bowling plans of late, and thus will be desperately waiting for a chance with the bat to - again - prove his value.
England appear unlikely to make any changes, with struggling opener Jason Roy strongly backed to retain his position. Jake Ball, under scrutiny following an expensive outing against Bangladesh, bounced back superbly against New Zealand, stepping into Chris Woakes' new-ball bowling boots to claim the Man of the Match award.
England (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Jake Ball.
Having not completed an innings so far in the tournament, Australia have had limited chance to assess their batsmen. Chris Lynn could be in contention for a call-up, but less clear is who would sit out to accommodate him.
Australia (possible) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Moises Henriques, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Travis Head, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Pitch and conditions
Big runs have been on offer at Edgbaston in this tournament, and this match should be no different. The pitch is new and will be good - it had been earmarked for Wednesday's clash between Pakistan and South Africa but was too damp for use at the time - but there will also be rain in Birmingham on Saturday, the question is whether it will come at game time.
Stats and trivia
Against Bangladesh, David Warner became the fastest Australian to 4000 ODI runs and the equal third among all-comers, behind Hashim Amla and Viv Richards
Eoin Morgan in this match will move into equal second on the list of ODIs captained for England; this game will take him to 62, alongside Andrew Strauss, and behind only Alastair Cook (69)
Australia could be forgiven for expecting the worst from this game: of their past six ODIs at Edgbaston (a period stretching back to 2005), five have been washed out.
"Our motivation is purely on keeping momentum going and playing well. We think we're still learning, still trying to be as good as we can be. Who we're playing on Saturday is irrelevant. It's case of us continuing to do well." Paul Farbrace, England's assistant coach, hopes his team can focus on performance rather than the identity of their opponents.
"You can't do much about it. You can't control the weather, so for us it's simple. We have to win the next game. That's all we can do" Darren Lehmann, the coach of Australia