The Cricket World Cup is about to get underway down under. We are looking forward to the cricket calendar showpiece and have previewed the tournament’s potential stars and winners.
The last time Australia hosted the CWC was in 1992 and England were beaten in the final by Imran Khan’s Pakistan. Since then we have seen the emergence of new cricketing powers but we are hoping that England will go one better this time.
As hosts, Australia will start as favourites. They boast the deepest and most powerful batting line up with players who can take advantage of power play overs at the start and end of the innings. If there is any weakness it would appear to be in the spin bowling department but they have plenty of pace options to combat this. Their outstanding leader Michael Clarke is back and the team who beat Australia are likely to win the tournament.
Co-hosts New Zealand should not be underestimated. They are in a fine run of form and they no longer rely solely on their superstar Brendan McCullum. They will slip under the radar of most opposition and will be looking to surprise a few all the way to the final.
The other fancied side is South Africa who always seem to under achieve at World Cups. Hashim Amla leads a strong batting unit and with Dale Steyn in the side there is firepower with the ball. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka come into the competition with little form and consistency and poor recent history in Australian conditions.
As always there are the ‘minnows’ to look out for creating shocks. Ireland lead the charge with Scotland, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the UAE also looking to make some history. Who can forget Kenya getting to the semi final in 1999 but surely this can’t happen again?
Players to look out for:
AB De Villiers (South Africa) recently scored the quickest ODI hundred of all time as he put the West Indies to the sword. His brutal knock of 149 was off 44 balls and he brought up his hundred in just 31 deliveries.
Darren Sammy (West Indies) is one of the most dangerous hitters in the last few overs of an innings. If he gets hold of the ball then even the biggest grounds are nowhere near big enough! He has been known to have strike rates in excess of 300 per 100 balls!
Aaron Finch & David Warner (Australia) open the batting and are a very dangerous combination. Both men are short in stature but very powerful and capable of hitting the ball a long way from the first ball. Whether setting or chasing they will attack and look to take the game from the opposition very quickly.
Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka) is in the twilight of his career but is one of the highest run scorers in the history of international cricket. Sri Lanka have often struggled in Australian conditions but ‘Sanga’ had no problem in 2008 when he put the Aussie bowlers to the sword.
Jos Buttler (England) is a fearless middle order batsman keeper who has taken the gloves in all 3 formats for England now due to Matt Prior’s injury. Dynamic does not even come close to describing Jos with the bat in his hands and he is capable of hitting to all parts of the ground. On top of this, his work behind the stumps is improving all the time and if England are to go a long way in the competition they will be looking for key contributions from Jos.
The AFCA Head Office pick as a player to look out for is Kane Williamson. The New Zealander is in a purple patch with the bat and is as reliable as anyone in world cricket right now. He is also a dynamic fielder and is a dangerous partnership breaker with his off-spin (ICC ruling allowing!).
How do we rate England’s chances?
There is a growing positivity about England’s ODI side. Peter Moores has been making excellent progress with the squad in all disciplines and we rate England’s chances as ‘quietly confident’. Despite potential unrest after Alistair Cook was replaced as captain only a few months ago, the new faces in the team have brought an energy and belief with them. Credit must go to selectors for finally picking James Taylor who has looked in imperious form at number 3, taking his domestic form onto the world stage.
What England will need is for their new skipper Eoin Morgan to return to form. He is a cool customer under pressure and his temperament will be needed with the bat as well as in the field with his captaincy decisions. The new ball pairing of Anderson and Broad is strong and Moeen Ali has shown that he has a lot to offer at the top of the order as well as being a front line spinner.
Good luck England!