David Hollywood looks forward to the 2019 Cricket World Cup which gets underway on Thursday morning, 30 May, Sky Sports CricketThe ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway on Thursday with the first ball being bowled at the Oval in London when pre-tournament favourites England take on South Africa.
The tournament controversially changed to a ten team format for this incarnation, two of which would have to qualify. Ironically, Ireland, despite being granted test status, failed to qualify. Afghanistan won the qualifying tournament, with runners-up West Indies also going through. All of which means for the first time there will be no Associate teams, and with Ireland’s absence, this will be the first World Cup actually missing a test team.
After each team plays each other once, the top four in the league of ten will then play a semi-final/final format.
The current format far less lends itself to upsets, so the form book and moreover the betting will be instructive.
Below is a short run-down of the market leaders, listed in market order, followed by honourable mentions, followed by an outright verdict.
England – 9/5f
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for England since their last World Cup. They failed to emerge from their pool after defeats to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
What followed was the appointment of Trevor Bayliss and a gradual and impressive improvement in the team’s fortunes.
Captained adroitly by Eoin Morgan, England can bat for miles. One of their issues previously has been their bowling in the ‘death overs’.
Since the codes of ODI and T20 cricket have come to the fore, England have struggled to produce bowlers that can survive the explosive closing stages in limited overs cricket.
Just witness their final over in the 2017 T20 World Cup Final.
The selection of fast-bowler Joffra Archer will go a long way to solve that issue, he is one of cricket’s most exciting stars. Along with picking up plenty of wickets, his economy rate of just 7.84 in T20, and 3.09 in first class county matches is world class.
Jos Butler led England’s batting unit to an impressive four wins over Pakistan before they lost a warm-up game to Australia and then enjoyed a nine-wicket win over Afghanistan. From top-to-bottom, their team is in fine touch.
There’s just the historical failings at this level (never a World Cup winner) that might haunt them when it comes down to the semi-final/final stages. I see England cruising to that point at least.
India – 3/1
A team resplendent with world class talent, India will be many people’s favourites for this year’s tournament.
Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Rohit Sharma will win games on their own individual batting merits.
However it is their bowling unit and their struggle to adapt to English conditions that is expected to mitigate against their chances. That being said, the have one of the best in Jasprit Bumrah.
A defeat to New Zealand and a win over Bangladesh in the build up did little to indicate anything solid. Their ODI series defeat (3-2) to Australia in March will have caused some concern.
They should join England in the last four, beyond there, it will be about how well they can keep scores down against the batting heavyweights.
Australia – 10/3
The most successful side in Cricket World Cup history, the five time, and defending champions have managed to bring their form to the boil just in time.
Justin Langer’s side are emerging from one of the worst spells in their gilded history.
Along with results not being what they should have been, they had to contend with the fall out of the ball-tampering scandal.
Then-captain Steve Smith, and his vice, David Warner were banned for one year, while bowler David Bancroft returned six months sooner for their parts in applying sandpaper to a match ball in the hope the ball would swing mid-flight.
All being told, Warner and Smith are back and Australia are hitting their straps.
Their legacy of Ashes experience as a squad will stand to them.
Many of their team will have played in England against England more than once.
Their ODI series win over India, in India, in March was important in terms of restoring moral and confidence. Their movement of Glenn Maxwell up the batting order could prove to be inspired.
Having watched Maxwell play for the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash league for the last number of seasons, I’m convinced he has all the tools in his armoury to affect this World Cup.
Left-handed, right-handed – Glenn Maxwell just makes cricket look simple! pic.twitter.com/OiNbxXrwjN
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 24, 2018
Factor in Warner’s scintillating batting display in this year’s IPL, and their wealth of ultra-combative and competitive bowlers, and I see Australia being perfectly placed to become this year’s World Champions.
A World Cup simply cannot pass without mention of the potential of the West Indies (15/1) to smash their way to success.
The T20 world champions tend to find 50 over cricket a degree trickier but with the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and captain Jason Holder they can beat anyone on their day.
New Zealand go in to this competition in good form and as fourth favourites at a price of 9/1. They have managed to reach the semi-finals on each of the three occasions this tournament has been held on English soil.
South Africa have talent – Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada all come in on the back of excellent IPL campaigns. Fitness issues surrounding a few of their better players sees them priced at 17/2 which is a touch generous in my opinion. South Africa have won nine of their last 11 ODI series.
England are the best team, India have the best players, however Australia have a strong team, with excellent individuals, and know exactly how to win tournament cricket.
Australia to win at 10/3.
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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article