Champions Trophy 2017: 'England are favourites, but watch out for India & SA'

England warmed up for the Champions Trophy by beating South Africa 2-1
England warmed up for the Champions Trophy by beating South Africa 2-1 in their one-day series
ICC Champions Trophy 2017
Venues: The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff. Dates: 1-18 June
Coverage: Highlights every evening on BBC Two, ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; in-play highlights and text commentary on the BBC Sport website

England have earned their tag as the bookmakers' favourites to win the Champions Trophy on home soil, and there will be disappointment if Eoin Morgan's side do not reach at least the final.

They kick off against Bangladesh at The Oval on Thursday and, while there is a lot of expectation around this set of players, they cannot complain - they have built their lofty standing in world cricket through their one-day performances over the last couple of years.

They have been playing consistently good cricket, clearly have a good team spirit and a bunch of top-quality, experienced players who have established themselves at international level.

This set of players is fearless - I look back at the Champions Trophy final of four years ago, when England lost the plot and subsided against India in the final, and I don't think this team will do that. They have more experience about them. They've got a harder edge.

Bairstow or Roy?

Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow
While Jason Roy, left, has been struggling for form in the short-term, his ODI batting average in the last 12 months (42.19) is only one run less than Bairstow's

A good indication of England's strength is the fact Jonny Bairstow cannot nail down a regular spot in the team.

There have been suggestions England could bring him in for struggling opener Jason Roy but I wouldn't change things around at the moment.

It's a shame Bairstow can't get in the side, and Roy does need to start scoring runs soon, but England know what their best side is now.

They also have to remember that the Champions Trophy is a competition where every game matters. It's rare this happens in international cricket, where there is always the next game in a three, five or seven-match series.

Teams cannot afford any slip-ups and that adds a whole new pressure of its own. Players don't want to look around the field and see nerves - they want to see people they are used to seeing, those they have gone to work with in the past, and those they have absorbed pressure with together.

Look out for India… and South Africa!

Champions Trophy groupings
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England & Bangladesh
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka & Pakistan

England's biggest rivals for the title are likely to be defending champions India. While all the subcontintental teams - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - will want dry pitches to play on, it won't matter too much to India.

They are such an experienced one-day team now and are coolly led by Virat Kohli, who is the best in the world at knocking off totals in a run chase. It's an extraordinary knack he has of making a pressurised situation appear anything but.

They also have a good variety to their bowling attack and players like Rohit Sharma are just so talented and unpredictable.

South Africa are another team I expect to do well, despite them not showing their best form against England in recent weeks.

They bat deep and have one of the best opening partnerships in the world in Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla. Those two tick every box - left and right-handed, hard hitter and graceful stroke maker.

Australia are always competitive and New Zealand can never be written off, despite being without the retired Brendon McCullum.

India v Pakistan is one not to miss

I'm really looking forward to commentating on India v Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday. It'll be a mad house!

It's always nice to enjoy the cricket from a totally impartial point of view and the levels of excitement and passion built up by the two sets of supporters are incredulous.

It means so much to them; it's essentially about bragging rights for a year.

Every supporter wears their heart on their sleeve and I love the juxtaposition of the players, who deliberately play it cool and rise about it all.

Then there's England versus Australia on 10 June. Obviously that's our biggest battle in cricket - from an England perspective - and there's a little marker to be laid ahead of the Ashes later this year...

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Marc Higginson

Media playback is not supported on this device

Simon Hughes' perfect Champions Trophy XI

Top Stories