Gearing up for Champions Trophy

In a year from now, the Proteas will be gearing up for their opening encounter of the ICC Champions Trophy with cricket’s governing body yesterday announcing the groups and fixtures for the event to be held in England.

The Proteas have been placed in Group B alongside defending champions India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the team they will face in their opening encounter at The Oval on June 3 2017.

The other group sees Australia, hosts England, New Zealand and Bangladesh pitted against one another in the preliminaries.

South Africa enjoyed their sole success so far in the event when it was held in Bangladesh in 2008 and in the most recent renewal, in 2013, they were knocked out at the semifinal stages.

While the event is a long way away it does place some emphasis on early preparations for the limited overs outfit and the current tour to the Caribbean is likely to form the first stages of that process.

The Proteas will open up the triangular series tomorrow when they take on the hosts West Indies with their next fixture against Australia on June 7.

There is every indication that the Australia will go into the event as favourites considering the fact that they are the current world champions in the format but they are hindered by the fact that a number of their big name players are returning from injury.

The Proteas on the other hand have most of their big guns available, barring Faf du Plessis who is likely to miss the first two games of the series, but are under pressure to bounce back after a disappointing few months, although their 50-over cricket has been the exception, which has also placed scrutiny on the management.

And then there’s the unpredictable nature of West Indies cricket to factor in although they won’t have a number of their superstars in action given the current impasse with their cricket board.

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