Cricket World Cup week is finally here and I for one can’t be happier! I enjoy my rugby and a few other sports, but cricket remains my first love and I can’t wait for the big show to begin. It should be a cracker of a tournament with no shortage of runs.
Whether you are a cricket nut like me and just can’t help but devour all the info you can get on the World Cup; are planning on playing some Superbru pools or fantasy game and are looking for a few ideas; or are eyeing up the tournament to have a few bets – here is a short look at what I’m expecting from the big event in England and Wales over the next six weeks.
Let’s take a quick look at the main contenders.
ENGLAND – Biggest Hitter: Buttler
|Powerful opening combo||Weight of expectation|
|Extreme batting depth||Over-reliant on strong batting|
|Pace & swing options in bowling attack||Unsure of best bowling attack|
INDIA – Biggest Hitter: Pandya
|Experienced winners||Batsmen vulnerable against swing|
|World’s best ODI Batsman & Bowler||Middle order issues behind Kohli|
|Best spin options in the comp||Lack of quality seamers behind Bumrah|
AUSTRALIA – Biggest Hitter: Maxwell
|World class batsmen in Warner & Smith||Unsettled batting line-up|
|Quality speedsters in Starc & Cummins||Starc’s form & fitness|
|As a rule they perform well under pressure||Hostility from crowd will have to be dealt with|
SOUTH AFRICA – Biggest Hitter: Miller
|Tahir was IPL leading bowler||Over-reliance on strong bowling|
|Rabada the form bowler in the world||A long batting tail|
|Plenty of experience in the ranks||That dreaded “c” word…|
NEW ZEALAND – Biggest Hitter: Guptil
|Come in under the radar||If ball doesn’t swing they could leak runs|
|Experienced, quality fast bowlers||Spinners aren’t at the level of some of the others|
|Solid top order||Lower order batting worries|
PAKISTAN – Biggest Hitter: Babar Azam
|Strong batting at the top||Inconsistent performers|
|Swing bowlers might enjoy the conditions||Propensity to fold under pressure|
|Been acclimatising to conditions for some time||Lack of wicket taking bowling options|
WINDIES – Biggest Hitter: Russell
|X-Factor across the park||No world class spinner|
|Big hitters from 1 to 10||Bit of pace but nothing special with the ball|
|Match-winners who swing a game individually||Mentally fragile|
We’ve taken a quick look at all the contenders. For me you have to try and eliminate a few potential candidates to get to your picks. The Windies might topple a few of the big boys but they could also slip up against Afghanistan – I don’t see them making the semi’s. India are second favourites but if there is some nip around in the English conditions they might not be as successful as some expect. New Zealand just don’t have enough strength in depth to go all the way.
For mind the two dark horses to watch are Pakistan and South Africa. From the favourites I think Australia and England are the two teams I don’t see missing out on the semi-finals.
Conditions in England
There has been a lot of talk regarding the type of pitches to expect for this World Cup. In cloudy, early morning conditions some think we could see a bit of swing around more often than not. Others are of the opinion that tracks could be drier and a touch slower than we are accustomed to from English wickets.
I see the majority of pitches being perfect for high run-scoring – the spinners often have a big role to play on these flatter tracks. The likes of Trent Bridge and the Bristol County Ground could let in bucket loads of runs. Overhead conditions will play a part at times though and when conditions are conducive the opening bowlers will have to ensure they grab the opportunity with both hands to ensure they give their team a chance of keeping the opponents under 300.
Who will shine?
With the bat Warner comes into this comp with loads of form and plenty to prove. The cream should rise to the top and I’m expecting big things from Shai Hope, Babar Azam and of course Kolhi and Kane.
With the ball it will be interesting to see the battle between the slow men and the seamers – Rabada vs Tahir and Bumrah vs Chahal strike me as the big question which will be determined based on the conditions. For mind Bumrah, Cummins and Boult will collect plenty of poles between them.
And finally, if you are thinking about having a bet…