Daniel Vettori, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara are set to join an exclusive club of cricketers to play in six ICC Champions Trophy tournaments after they were named in their respective squads for the elite event to be staged in England and Wales from 6-23 June.
In addition to New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the six other countries have also confirmed their best cricketers in their final line-ups for one of the most prestigious nation versus nation cricket tournaments in which 15 matches will be played over 18 days with no team in a position to lose more than one match.
Vettori played in the 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 editions while the Sri Lanka pair has featured in five consecutive events from 2000.
When the three cricketers will take the field for their first matches in the tournament, they will join the group of Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka), Rahul Dravid (India), Ricky Ponting (Australia), Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis (both South Africa) who have played in all the six tournaments from 1998 to 2009.
Vettori, in 14 matches to date, has captured 16 wickets at an average of 28.5, Jayawardena has scored 574 runs at just over 38 and Sangakkara has aggregated 461 runs at 30.73.
If all goes well and according to the plan for Jayawardena and Sangakkara, then on 17 June at The Oval against Australia, the two will achieve another milestone of becoming the most capped players in the history of the ICC Champions Trophy – 21. The two are currently sitting on 18 matches apiece and have Jayasuriya (20) and Dravid (19) firmly within their sights.
Sri Lanka will be led by world’s fourth-ranked all-rounder Angelo Mathews. Apart from Jayawardena and Sangakkara, the 2002 joint-champion have also retained Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara from the side that played in the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 in South Africa.
New Zealand, which won the tournament in Nairobi in 2000, has kept faith in a number of players from the side that reached the final in 2009, including captain Brendon McCullum, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills, Ross Taylor and Vettori.
Mills is the joint-second most successful bowler in the ICC Champions Trophy, having taken 22 wickets in 12 matches at just over 19. He trails Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralidaran by just two wickets.
Australia will aim to complete a hat-trick of titles after it won the event in Mumbai in 2006 and then defended the crown three years later at Centurion.
The four-time world champion will be led by Michael Clarke, who returns to the event after missing out four years ago. The squad also includes Mitchell Johnson, Adam Voges and Shane Watson who played in South Africa in 2009. Clarke, Johnson and Watson were also part of the squad that defeated the West Indies by eight wickets in the final at Brabourne Stadium in 2006.
Watson was named player of the final in 2006 for his contribution of two for 11 and 57 not out and three years later in 2009 won the player of the tournament award after aggregating 265 runs at an average of 88.33 and claiming six wickets at 25.16.
World champion India will defend its status as the number-one ranked ODI side in the world at the ICC Champions Trophy. While it will be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it includes Ravichandran Ashwin, Virat Kohli, and Suresh Raina who were members of the side that won the ICC Cricket World Cup final at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai just over two years ago.
From the side that played in the ICC Champions Trophy 2009, India has retained Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Kohli, Amit Mishra, Raina and Ishant Sharma.
Dhoni’s side, besides attempting to retain its top ranking, will also try to match Australia’s feat of holding both 50-over titles at the same time. Australia has achieved this rare distinction twice – 2006 and 2009.
Host England has named a very balanced side for the event it last hosted in 2004.
James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Graeme Swann have been retained from the squad that reached the semi-final in 2009, while in Alastair Cook, England has a captain who has not only inspired his side to second position on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table, but he also occupies eighth position on the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen through his consistent performances with the willow.
Jonathan Trott, however, is the highest-ranked England batsman in fifth position while Ian Bell, who in the only current England player to play in the 2006 tournament, is in 24th position.
Steven Finn is England’s highest-ranked bowler in third position and James Tredwell is inside the top 50 in 46th spot.
Other than England, Pakistan is the only side in this strong field of eight sides not to have won the ICC Champions Trophy.
The Pakistan side includes Abdur Rehman, Mohamamd Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik who played in the 2006 tournament in India. Of these players only Kamran and Shoaib managed to retain their places in the side for the 2009 tournament in South Africa. Apart from Kamran and Shoaib, other survivors from the 2009 tournament are captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Saeed Ajmal.
Spin duo of Saeed and Hafeez feature inside the top four in the bowlers’ rankings while in the batting table, Misbah sits in 18th position, Hafeez occupies 36th spot and Nasir Jamshed, who hit back-to-back centuries against India in 2012, holds 40th spot.
South Africa has named seven players from the side that played in its backyard four years ago. They are captain AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Robin Peterson, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
De Villiers shares the top batting slot with teammate Amla, while Steyn and Morkel share ninth spot in the bowlers’ rankings.
South Africa’s only ICC title has been in this tournament (then called ICC Knock-Out) when it defeated the West Indies by four wickets in the final in Dhaka in 1998.
The West Indies will be skippered by Dwayne Bravo and includes of a number of players who featured in the side’s successes at the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 and the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012.
Bravo, as well as Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Darren Sammy were members of the 2004 squad. Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Smith, besides Bravo, were instrumental in helping the West Indies win its first ICC title since 2004 when it defeated host Sri Lanka in Colombo in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 2012.
Gayle is the leading run-getter in the ICC Champions Trophy, having scored 695 runs in 14 matches at an average of 57.91. The Jamaican has also taken 17 wickets at just under 22.
AUSTRALIA – Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Clint McKay, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, David Warner and Shane Watson
ENGLAND – Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell,
Jonathan Trott and Chris Woakes
INDIA – Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Murali Vijay
NEW ZEALAND – Brendon McCullum (captain), Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Andrew Ellis, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori and Kane Williamson
PAKISTAN – Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Abdur Rehman, Asad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ehsan Adil, Imran Farhat, Junaid Khan, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin and Wahab Riaz
SOUTH AFRICA – AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe
SRI LANKA – Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardena, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kushal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake, Lahiru Thirimanne and Chanaka Welagedara
WEST INDIES – Dwayne Bravo (captain), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Ramneresh Sarwan and Devon Smith