ICC Live

In focus

Buy Tickets for 2017 - 300x250

Butler predicts South Africa, Australia and India as biggest title contenders

New Zealand's pacer Ian Butler feels there is no easy group and it is going to be tough to beat opponents like Australia, South Africa and India

Butler predicts South Africa, Australia and India as biggest title contenders - Cricket News
New Zealand's pacer Ian Butler is expecting a tough fight from India, Australia and South Africa.
New Zealand's Ian Butler can't wait to get to South Africa for this month's ICC Champions Trophy but he admits Australia, South Africa and India will provide the toughest challenges to the other five title contenders. 

The right-arm fast bowler believes 50 overs cricket requires a totally different game plan and approach compared to Twenty20 cricket and tipped Yuvraj Singh, Dale Steyn and Saeed Ajmal as players to watch. 

Looking ahead to the tournament, Butler said: "With only the top eight teams playing in the tournament, no matter who is in your group it's going to be a tough group which makes for an exciting tournament. 

"I think with the return of a couple of key players and the amount of depth that's building in New Zealand cricket, it makes an especially exciting time for us. It will be good to see how we compete against the other seven teams.

"I think when it comes to 50-over format, it's not just about one match-winner. It takes a big effort to win in one-day cricket. 

"Teams that will play good structured cricket like Australia and South Africa will have a cutting edge in the tournament. Australia has won the last three ICC Cricket World Cups and is also the defending champion not only because it has good players in its ranks but also because it consistently plays quality cricket. 

"Having said that, you can't discount the other teams. For example, India plays good one-day cricket so I wouldn't like to put a finger on who is favourite to win the 5 October final. You've got to look after your own backyard and not worry about what other teams are doing."

The 27-year-old is more forthcoming on players to watch in the tournament: "Yuvraj Singh is a massive danger, especially with some of the short boundaries he can get. 

"Then every team now has bowlers who are capable of containing runs as well as taking wickets. I think South Africa have proven how good they are at the death, particularly with Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell. 

"When you look at teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, they can be really tough because they completely dominate you through the middle with (Muttiah) Muralidaran, (Ajantha) Mendis, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. 

"If you sit back and look at how many match-winners will be in action during the ICC Champions Trophy, you'll be amazed. And there could be a few surprise packages coming through as well, players we don't really know but could make a name for themselves."

When it comes to the New Zealand players to watch, Butler says he looks forward to the return of Jesse Ryder and Shane Bond. 

"All our batsmen have proven themselves at the international level but I think Jesse Ryder is a good one to watch. He's just a different class and I hope on a world stage like the ICC Champions Trophy, he would put behind the disappointment of missing the ICC World Twenty20 in England in June and show the rest of the world how good he is. 

"With the ball, having Shane Bond back is amazing for us. He's still one of the smartest one-day bowlers out there and for us to have him back alongside Kyle Mills and Daniel Vettori will be a huge part for our side," said Butler. 

Butler, who has taken 17 wickets in 18 ODIs, suffered a career-threatening back injury in 2006. However, the Aucklander overcame the odds to return to the New Zealand side and now enjoys playing the 50-over format. 

"I think for myself, having come back from such a serious injury which had almost ended my career, it is a great feeling to be part of such an exciting environment.

"For me, every game is great as I just love playing cricket. I think one-day cricket, especially now, is completely a batter's game, especially with the new batting PowerPlays we now have."

Similar Articles