Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t – but there are some reasons to care, starting with laying down a marker for the Ashes.
The Champions Trophy suffers from something of an identity crisis, inaugurated before there was a T20 World Cup, and meant to be replaced (but eventually not) by the ICC Test Championship. It now languishes as an off-year, off-brand World Cup.
Nevertheless, it has drawn cricket’s top-level teams – which no longer includes the West Indies, who missed the eight-team cut-off – to England and Wales. Australia begins its campaign against New Zealand tonight in Edgbaston.
The Aussies have picked an interesting squad, and by interesting, we mean an honest-to-goodness first-choice outfit. As Fox Sports’ commentator Brendon Julian says, the selectors have taken the opportunity to pick a World Cup-type squad: “For once, we’ve got everyone fit and available. We’re not resting anyone, no one needs a break.”
According to Julian, the most intriguing element in this mix is the four-points, all-pace attack the Aussies could assemble: Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson. Injury, form and conditions have conspired against assembling this quartet, but it will be a possibility in this tournament.
Even though a bunch of ODIs six months out from the Ashes series isn’t the most reliable indicator, the prospect of putting from fast-bowling fear into opponents would be appealing to captain Steve Smith and coach Darren Lehmann.
The Aussies play England on Saturday week, and it will be noteworthy who will be in that XI. ”playing the seam quartet will be a prelude to the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in November,” Julian says. “I’m excited to see what this four-pronged pace attack can do.”