Proteas in tough Champions group
THE 2017 ICC Champions Trophy is set to be a competitive tournament for the Proteas, as the top eight ranked ODI sides will battle it out in the 18-day tournament from June 1 to 18, 2017 in England.
South Africa are placed in Group B, alongside Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, and Proteas skipper AB de Villiers is looking forward to guiding his team to their first silverware in nearly 19-years — since South Africa won the inaugural tournament in 1998.
“I’m especially looking forward to the ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales next year as it is another opportunity for our ODI unit to make an attempt at winning silverware for South Africa.
“There has been a lot of focus on Twenty20 cricket over the last few months and an upcoming triangular series against the West Indies and Australia is the start of an important journey of preparation leading up to the tournament,” he added.
South Africa are scheduled to start a tri-series between West Indies and Australia in the Caribbean on Friday.
And while De Villiers admits that their group does seem incredibly tough, he is confident that they will overcome the Asian “giants”.
“We are in an incredibly tough group with the three Asian giants in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, so we are going to have to play at our optimum best to have a chance of lifting that elusive trophy,” he said.
De Villiers also added that he was looking forward to travelling and playing in England and Wales where he has always enjoyed playing cricket.
“I particularly enjoy playing cricket in England and Wales; with its rich cricket heritage, its renowned venues with just the right mix of tradition and modernity, and culturally diverse and appreciative crowds, all of which are perfect ingredients to make it a memorable event.
“We have always enjoyed great support in England and Wales, there is a passionate South Africa expat crowd, so hopefully that can count in our favour,” De Villiers said.
“It is going to be a highly competitive tournament as it features the eight top ODI playing nations and the quick nature of the schedule opens up the possibility of good quality and action-packed viewing for those 18 days.
“Every match will be a virtual knock-out so there will be plenty at stake and little room for slip-ups.”
South Africa play their first Champions Trophy game on June 3, 2017 against Sri Lanka. — Sport24.