Twelve countries have assembled in England to contest the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy. Wisden Cricinfo takes a look at the teams, their prospects, some of the names to look out for and their odds for winning the trophy.

Australia - 4/11 to win pool, 11/8 to win tournament



Andrew Symonds and Ricky Ponting: just two reasons why Australia are the favourites © Getty Images

There's nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in an Aussie. The Champions Trophy is the one major tournament that has so far eluded their grasp, and that fact alone will make them all the more determined this fortnight. They may not be quite the formidable unit that steamrolled all comers at the 2003 World Cup, but how could a side containing Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and a resurgent Glenn McGrath be anything other than overwhelming favourites?

One to watch
It's the dawn of a new era of allrounders, and right up there with the best is Andrew Symonds. Like that other Andrew - Flintoff - Symonds has always had ability, but only lately has he developed the intense focus to deal with his immense power. He announced his arrival with a century against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, but when he repeated the feat at Lord's last week, from an equally dicey situation, you couldn't help noticing that he has morphed into a more violent version of Michael Bevan. His offspin's pretty handy too, and he rockets returns in from the deep as if he's got something against the keeper.

New kid on the block
While we're on the subject of allrounders, here's another useful addition to the Aussie squad. Shane Watson isn't new new - he first played as a 20-year-old in March 2002, but after being kept out of the World Cup with a stress fracture of the back, he's back to form and fitness, with a remodelled bowling action and a lust for leather-whacking. Andrew Miller

New Zealand - 2/1 to win pool, 9/1 to win tournament

New Zealand disappointed in the Tests in England earlier this summer, but there wasn't much wrong with their one-day form, as they spoiled England's party then blitzed West Indies in the final of the NatWest Series in what was, remarkably, their first one-dayer at Lord's. And the good news is that most of the injury problems that beset them on that tour have been resolved. Daniel Vettori is back in action, and so is Daryl Tuffey. Brendon McCullum is back after paternity leave. Sadly, Shane Bond is still unable to strut his stuff, but Ian Butler, puzzlingly overlooked for the Tests in England, isn't far behind him for pace. Their match against Australia could well be the clash of the first round.

One to watch
Chris Cairns, no longer a Test player, but still a one-day legend. It was his responsible century that clinched the Champions Trophy for New Zealand - their first victory in a multi-nation tournament - in Kenya in 2000. Since then he's blitzed his way to the top of the Test six-hitters' list, and remains a ferocious competitor.

New kid on the block
Michael Papps, 25, didn't feature in the one-day series in England after breaking a finger during his only Test of the tour. But his five ODI appearances so far, all against South Africa last winter, included matchwinning innings of 67 at Wellington and 92 not out at Napier. He's short, but drives well, and acts as a handy foil to the big hitters down the order. Steven Lynch

USA - 500/1 to win pool, 5000/1 to win tournament

Their first appearance in the big time, and they couldn't have landed a more brutal group if they tried. Australians have long had a penchant for annihilating teams with "America" in their title - in 2001, the "Socceroos" football team beat American Samoa 31-0 in a World Cup qualifier, while South Australia's favourite Canadian, John Davison, recently grabbed 17 wickets in the ICC Intercontinental Cup fixture aganst the USA in Florida. So quite what vengeance the world champions en masse intend to wreak is anyone's guess. Mind you, America can't expect the Kiwis to go easy on them either - because if rain happens to wash out the third and decisive match between the big guns, it'll all come down to net run rate ...

One to watch
Clayton Lambert may be a venerable 42-year-old, but in his days as a West Indian batsman, he played five Tests and 11 one-day internationals, with a century in each format. A left-hand batsman with a forthright, if crabby, style, he was never one to bother with the orthodox - as an exasperated Angus Fraser would readily testify - so if he can last long enough to get his eye in, we could yet see a reprise of his former glory days.

New kid on the block
The entire team ... this is a whole new ball game for Team America. They may have taken part in the original cricket international, against Canada in 1844, but it has been a struggle to get the game re-established since. A boardroom dispute has undermined the fledgling professional 20-overs league, and the side has been treading water ever since qualifying for this Champions Trophy at the Six Nations Tournament at Sharjah. Still, there's nothing like exposure on the big stage for getting a country kick-started. Andrew Miller

Please note that odds are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.