Aussies can land first blow ahead of Ashes, says Julian
CRICKET: Steve Smith's men can lay down a marker for the summer's Ashes series with a successful ICC Champions Trophy campaign, says former Australian all-rounder Brendon Julian.
The one-day international tournament began in England last night when the hosts took on Bangladesh at The Oval, with Australia to begin with a clash against trans-Tasman rival New Zealand at Edgbaston tonight.
Julian, heading up Fox Sports' coverage, said the tournament would be a great precursor to the battle for the little urn, which begins Down Under in November.
"There's more pressure on England because I think people are expecting them to suddenly win a tournament," said Julian, who played 25 one-day internationals in the 1990s.
"They haven't won the Champions Trophy and I think if they go poorly that could leak into their Ashes campaign.
"When you are hosting a tournament and you have never won a World Cup and people are saying England have always been good at one-day cricket but they have never got over the line, then that starts to build."
Australia will come face to face with the old enemy on June 10.
Julian said England could not be written off on home soil but predicted an Australia v South Africa final on June 18.
He said Australia's pace attack of Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood could prove the difference, particularly in English conditions.
Julian said while he would love all four seamers to play, he predicted selectors would be more conservative and go for three quicks and an all-rounder, with Marcus Stoinis holding on to that role.
"The bowlers I think will be superb," Julian said.
"The first game is at Edgbaston ... that can normally seam around a bit and I think that will suit our quick bowlers and we have got wicket-takers.
"That's the biggest thing I love about the squad is we have guys who get in there and take wickets.
"If you compare that to other nations, they have got a couple of wicket-takers but mostly they are there to contain batsmen, whereas our guys are there to get them out.
"We have got an aggressive team. It won't be easy picking the XI - that's going to be one of the toughest things for selectors."
Julian said Aaron Finch should get the nod to partner David Warner up the top of the order but if the Victorian struggled, there were plenty of options.
"If he doesn't fire early, I think they might make a change there," Julian said.
"Travis Head and Chris Lynn have been opening the batting too in the IPL and scoring runs, so they could be an option.
"Our batting's solid and good if our big guns Smith and David Warner fire but our bowling is our real strength.
"You look at that squad and it's all about pace. It's all about guys who bowl about 145km/h and I think that's going to be big over there.
"If we are aggressive and there's a little bit in the track and it swings a bit, we will be knocking teams over for around 200-220 and with our batting that should not be a problem."
Tonight: Australia v New Zealand at Edgbaston
Monday: Australia v Bangladesh at The Oval
June 10: England v Australia at Edgbaston
June 14-15: Semi-finals
June 18: Final at The Oval