| It will not be easy for the joint holders (Sanath Jayasuriya and Sourav Ganguly seen with the trophy after the 2002 edition) this time
Southampton: Each of the more fancied teams in the four Pools will have an easy game. The problem, though, is going to be the big one: When the more fancied themselves meet ' for example, India versus Pakistan and Australia against New Zealand.
If anything, then, edge-of-the-seat cricket shouldn't be at a premium when the latest Champions Trophy gets underway on Friday. The final is scheduled for September 25, with a reserve day provision.
India and Sri Lanka are the joint-holders, but to come within sniffing distance of yet another final, Sourav Ganguly's side must first beat Pakistan (in Birmingham, on September 19) and Maravan Atapattu's men will have to get the better of a rejuvenated England (at the Rose Bowl here, on September 17).
Zimbabwe (Pool D), Bangladesh (Pool B), Kenya (Pool C) and rookies the US (Pool A) are only completing the numbers. An upset is as unlikely as a discount at any of the premium hotels in Southampton, all of whom have decided to milk the tourists-drawing Boat Show and, yes, the Champions Trophy too.
Australia remain the most consistent, but they've got to really watch out for Stephen Fleming and Co. As Sourav put it, in a chat with
The Telegraph: 'That won't be an easy match, but one expects Australia to put it across New Zealand... Basically, the character of every team is going to be on test.'
Sourav was initially reluctant to pick his semi-finalists, but eventually said he would go for 'Australia (A), South Africa (B), India (C) and England (D).' Indeed, he expects an India versus South Africa semi-final.
Much, of course, will happen before that stage is reached.
Incidentally, this Champions Trophy is going to see a first ' umpires will wear earpieces for an audio feed from the stump microphones. It's a step forward in the use of technology, only it's to be seen whether the David Shepherds find the special vest uncomfortable.
Also, as has been announced, spin bowlers are going to be the 'target' of a research aimed at helping the ICC identify the ones with a suspect action. Even off-the-field, the buzz will be quite strong.