The 2019 Cricket World Cup begins next week with 10 of the best cricketing nations on the globe heading to England for a bonanza of 50 over action in a six-week tournament to determine the best one-day side on the planet.
Australia won the crown on home soil four years ago and will be out to defend their title but in a wide open looking heat they face plenty of competition, not least from the hosts for whom this is a massive summer.
2015 – Australia
2011 – India
2007 – Australia
2003 – Australia
1999 – Australia
1996 – Sri Lanka
1992 – Pakistan
1987 – Australia
1983 – India
1979 – West Indies
It wouldn’t be a Cricket World Cup without a change in format and we see a return to the style used for the 1992 tournament this year. 10 teams have qualified for the tournament and they all play the other nine in the event once in a round robin first round format for the event. At the end of that stage the top four go through to the semi-final where the tournament becomes a straight knockout from there on in.
Every match is 50 overs and there is no reserve day apart from the knockout matches. The competition follows the playing rules laid out in usual ODI cricket. The World Cup winners will be crowned at Lord’s on Sunday July 14.
Tournament hosts have won the last two World Cup’s and England will be hoping to complete the hat-trick of teams who stage the event and win it this year. England have not made it to the semi-final of a World Cup since 1992. They head into the competition unbeaten in a bilateral series in their last 10 outings against teams in this tournament and haven’t lost a series in England for four years. Their most recent series saw them demolish Pakistan 4-0 so their recent form justifiably makes them worthy 2/1 favourites.
India won the tournament when they hosted it in 2011 but were beaten in the semi-final by Australia four years ago. Traditionally they are a strong 50 over outfit and won the 2013 Champions Trophy in England. They also beat England in an ODI series in India last winter. They have won 12 of their last 14 bilateral series but did lose their last one at home to Australia. Interestingly they have chosen not to play a warm up series in England ahead of the tournament but showed their tournament prowess when winning the Asia Cup last year. They are 3/1 second favourites.
Australia are the defending champions and have won four of the last five World Cups and each of the last four to be played away from Asia. They went through 12-18 months of ordinary ODI results prior to the start of this year but something clicked towards the end of their summer and they have shown good credentials running up to the tournament to heighten the expectation on them. After going two whole years without a bilateral series win they have now won their last two and are 9/2 to go on and win this World Cup.
South Africa have an infamously poor record in this competition, with the semi-final the best they have ever done in it. They made the last four in 1992 when the rain cost them and then again in 2015 when they lost another rain reduced match. As a cricketing nation they have a reputation for being chokers as a result. Their exit when they hosted in 2003 when they read the DL sheet wrong doesn’t help with that neither does their 1999 semi-final defeat from not so much the jaws of victory but the depths of its stomach. It is fair to say they do not have a love affair with this tournament. A lack of a recent spin in England is a concern too although this is a side who have won their last five bilateral ODI series and 13 of their last 15. They are 10/1 to win the tournament.
New Zealand were the beaten finalists four years ago when they co-hosted the tournament. You would be hard pushed to say with any conviction that they are a better side now. Clearly they are not but how much worse remains to be seen. That was the furthest they have been in this event despite a decent record in global competitions as a rule. New Zealand are another side who haven’t bothered with a warm up series in England which is a surprise as usually they are very well prepared for big occasions. Since the Champions Trophy in 2017 where they failed to make the semi-finals they have won just four of eight bilateral series and are 10/1 to win this competition.
Pakistan won that Champions Trophy in 2017 in the heady heights of their time as an ODI outfit but it is fair to say they have tailed off drastically since then. They failed to make the final of the Asia Cup which would have been a huge disappointment and while they have had a preparation series for this World Cup, they lost it 4-0 which probably didn’t do them much good either. It is 18 months since they beat a team in this tournament in a bilateral series and they head into the event having lost their last 10 ODIs. You can never write off such a mercurial side, who were finalists the last time the competition was staged in England, but at 16/1 value could be miniscule.
West Indies are probably the most intriguing side going into this competition. They have the personnel and the skills to win the tournament but at the same time it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they implode and fail to land a blow at any point. They had to come through the qualifying event to take their place in the tournament and to be fair since then they have kicked on a little. They are twice winners of this tournament but not since 1979 and they haven’t made the final since 1983. You have to go back five years for the last time they won a bilateral series but one positive is that most of their squad have been acclimatising to conditions in Ireland recently, although they couldn’t even win the Tri-Nations out there. West Indies are 16/1 to win this competition but they would need every big player to fire you feel.
Sri Lanka are a fast fading force in the 50 over world. This was once their forte and they changed the landscape of the way it is played when they blasted their way to victory in 1996 when they co-hosted the tournament. They were then finalists again in 2011 when again they helped to stage the event but since then their decline has been pretty horrific. They were not even close factors in the Asia Cup last year which highlights that. Sri Lanka warmed up for the World Cup with a win over Scotland but you have to go back to 2016 for the last time they won a bilateral series which further highlights their struggles. Their old guard have largely gone and the new breed do not look good enough. They are 100/1 for a reason here.
Bangladesh were quarter finalists in the last World Cup, easily their best ever performance in the event, and then since then they have been semi-finalists in the Champions Trophy in England and finalists in the Asia Cup just last year so they are forging a reputation as an emerging side in this format of the game and could be ones to watch here. They go into the tournament having won the warm up event in Ireland last week where they played some excellent cricket and they have won three of their last four bilateral series. They tick a lot of boxes despite being 100/1.
Afghanistan were the other team to come through the qualifying tournament and they played some good cricket down in Zimbabwe to make it into this competition. Cleverly they went to Ireland this week for some preparation ahead of the World Cup where they will be looking to make a big impact for the first time. Afghanistan are relatively new to the top level ODI scene and although much of their cricket has been against sides who you would call a second string level, they have only lost one of their last nine bilateral ODI series which is a positive. They were competitive at the Asia Cup last year but this could be a tournament too soon for them. They are 200/1 to be world champions.
England should win this World Cup. They have home advantage and are the number one ranked side in the world but 2/1 on a team who haven’t won a knockout match since 2013 doesn’t really inspire me, especially when you think they are by no means certainties to win such a contest if they are made to bat first. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as champions but there is too much pressure on them and too much would have to go right for me to be happy getting involved at 2/1 so I’m looking elsewhere.
Australia might just be coming into form at the right time. Last year was a complete write off for them in this format of the game with injuries killing them but with Dave Warner and Steve Smith back in their line-up, undoubtedly bolstering it regardless of what people think of them, and the likes of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc sending shells down I like the look of them. A key facet of this tournament is that successful teams will have to bat deep. Australia do that. I want to be on a side who I feel confident can win a knockout match if they have to bat first. With the firepower Australia have with the ball I believe they can do that and so at 9/2 they are my first bet for the tournament and my main one.
I can’t ignore the 100/1 on Bangladesh to win the tournament. I think three of the semi-final spots are secure in England, India and Australia but that fourth one is wide open. South Africa don’t convince me without AB de Villiers while I’m not convinced New Zealand are as strong as previous competitions. Pakistan have been a mess with the ball over the last couple of weeks and West Indies can’t be trusted. That leaves Bangladesh, who sound forlorn hopes but when you dig deeper might not be. They were quarter finalists four years ago, beat New Zealand to make the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy two years ago and then beat Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in making the final of the Asia Cup last year. In Mustafizur Rahman they have a good quality death bowler and a couple of tidy spinners to maintain control. We saw in the Tri-Nations final last week that they bat deep and can win matches batting first or second. The 100/1 they win the tournament each way is of interest as is the 16/1 they fill the semi-final places.
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