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Preview of the Cricket World Cup 2019
Preview, betting tips, favourites and form guide for the Cricket World Cup 2019 While we are still 3 months from the start of cricket's showpiece tournament, it now very much feels as though we are on the road to World Cup 2019. But for a couple of Test series featuring South Africa & Sri Lanka and New Zealand & Bangladesh that will finish off in the next few weeks, the world of cricket will be dining on an exclusively white ball diet for the next 5 months. As a cricketing purist and lover of the red ball game beyond all others, there is a slight sense of loss at having to wait so long between Test series but the 50 over World Cup alongside the IPL that starts in March will offer some entertainment in between times. We have seen a lot of chopping and changing from some of the top teams especially India and Australia as they seek to fine-tune their 11 in time for the tournament that is due to start at the end of May. You would have thought that the time for experimentation is now over and that most sides will be looking to establish a settled formula for success. Multiple high profile ODI series still remain between now and the first game on 30th MayWest Indies v England 5 game seriesAfghanistan v Ireland 5 game seriesIndia v Australia 5 game seriesSouth Africa v Sri Lanka 5 game seriesPakistan v Australia 5 game seriesEngland v Pakistan 5 game seriesEngland v Ireland one-off gameIreland, Bangladesh, West Indies tri-nation seriesScotland v Afghanistan 2 game seriesScotland v Sri Lanka 2 game seriesIreland v Afghanistan 2 game series Each of the 10 teams competing in the WC also play 2 warm-up games in the week prior to the start of the tournament Favourites for the tournament As it stands the rankings paint a pretty accurate picture of the form of the teams coming into the tournament. England and India are by far the most powerful, experienced and talented squads with few weak points to be found amongst their starting 11s. Thereafter a pack of 4 teams (Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand) will all be in with a shout before a drop off to Bangladesh and the rest. The format for this World Cup is very different from what we’ve seen in recent years in that everyone will play everyone in the group stages as opposed to the convoluted multiple group stages that have defined the last 20 odd years. Critics will argue that this format doesn’t give the smaller nations much of a chance for qualification and sides like Ireland and the Netherlands will not have the chance this time around to add to their collection of shock results in global tournaments. However, I’d say that a showpiece event like the World Cup should see the best of the best going head to head in as many closely contested matches as possible. Development of cricket around the world is crucial but the way to do that will be to demonstrate the very best that the sport has to offer and this tournament looks set to do just that. Early Odds and Betting Tips England (@3.3) and India’s (@4.33) dominance over the past few years is represented in their relatively short odds. Personally, I think that a fully fit India team is better on paper than England. Yes, we beat them 2-1 in a series last year but that was without their 2 most effective pace bowlers (Bumrah and Buvi) and in general, it felt like India were playing it a little coy with their team selections in those matches. You can also back India @2.2 to reach the final which of course they did do in England a couple of years ago during the Champions Trophy where they were beaten in the final by bitter rivals Pakistan. For their part, Pakistan are @10 to win the tournament which looks a little bit long for me. They are a mercurial side but they tend to save their best performances for tournament cricket and their strength is always in their bowling which again is a big plus when it comes to the later stages of the competition. Whether Australia are a good price @7.0 will depend very much on how Smith and Warner perform on their return and on which fast bowlers are fit and picked for the 11. The Aussies had a woeful 2018 and it would be one of the biggest turnarounds in cricketing history if they were to defend their title from 4 years ago. I don’t really see South Africa (@9.0) having quite enough to win but New Zealand are never to be underestimated and a flutter @11 might not be the worst bit of business you do. All odds from oddschecker.com Form Guide and Preparations The real value of those odds may become apparent over the next couple of months and the below gives an overview of the what the top sides will be looking to achieve in that time England From laughing stock at the last World Cup to world number 1 today it has been some renaissance for England's ODI team. Their strength is largely in their batting with the top 6 all in good form. Bairstow and Roy have been brutal at the top, Root and Morgan capable of laying a platform in the middle and then Stokes and Buttler smash it about at the end. In fact, the whole 11 can bat with Adil Rashid a player with multiple first-class hundreds often the last man in. Spin has also been a strong suit for England with Rashid and Ali taking wickets throughout the middle overs but perhaps the one big selection point is who the hosts should choose as their fast bowling options. Chris Woakes looks likely to lead the attack with Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Tom Curran all proving their worth in recent series. The other x-factor to consider in that department is Jofra Archer whose express pace will be at England's disposal next month. For me a pace bowling attack of Woakes, Archer and Tom Curran supported by Stokes, Rashid and Ali could be enough to see England to their first ever 50 over World Cup win. India India's top 3 of Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli have been in imperious form of late with Kohli alone averaging in excess of 100 in ODIs in 2018. The batting is backed up by the likes of Bumrah, Buvi and Yadav with the ball but it is the in-between parts that are perhaps of most concern for Team India. Question marks have been raised over Dhoni's involvement in the tournament but the selectors have stayed true to their man and whatever he lacks in batting power these days he more than makes up for in experience. He is a cool, calm customer at the crease, a world class wicketkeeper and while Kohli is the de jure captain, Dhoni still talks tactics with bowlers and tweaks the fields throughout the 50overs. Rayudu's recent form has solved at least 1 problem for India pic source The other questions then remain over who should bat at numbers 4 and 5 for India. Plenty of big names have been given a go and it would appear that Ambati Rayudu has emerged as the most likely candidate to bat 4. With India playing substantially less in the run-up to the World Cup than many of the other contenders the remaining places could well be decided by form in the IPL. Another big factor will be whether the Indians wish to select a player such as Pandya, Jadeja or Jadhav who could play the all-rounder role. Certainly at times last summer India appeared to miss a 6th bowling option and so getting that balance right could be the key to a successful campaign. Australia Thank God it's no longer 2018 will be the sentiment of most Australian cricket fans who had to endure national disgrace alongside a run of terrible results last year. What their ODI side will look like is still the subject of much debate. Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh were the only batsmen to come out with any real credit last year and the later is by no means guaranteed a place in the starting 11. At the same time no bowler really established themselves as a serious contender to replace the likes of Starc and Cummins who have been rested as much as they played in last few series. The other issue the Australians have had is the lack of a high-class wicket-taking spinner (or 2) an issue that is further compounded by the fact that they themselves don't play slow bowling well. As such it's hard to see that their tours of India and Pakistan (played in the UAE) will provide the Aussies with much hope of building up their confidence ahead of the tournament. South Africa What a shame that AB Devilliers decided to call time on his glittering international career just before this tournament. South Africa could certainly do with his star quality with captain Faf Du Plessis the only real world class player left in their line-up. Certainly, there is talent amongst the likes of De Kock, Miller and Hendricks but they need to add a little more consistency if South Africa are to establish themselves at the top table. The real strong point for South Africa is their fast bowling with Rabada and Ngidi both a hostile threat to opposition batsmen. They are ably supported by seamer Phehlukwayo whose bowling has come on since he last toured England 2 years ago and the evergreen Imran Tahir whose leg-spin will claim wickets in the middle. Like a few of the teams, it will be finding the all-rounders and balance to the side that will be important to South Africa's preparation for the tournament. Pakistan Some of the stats of the Pakistan players in recent games have been boosted somewhat by the fact that they hammered Zimbabwe about 5 months ago. However, outside that series and particularly away from home the likes of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq have struggled to assert themselves in quite the same way. Another problem for Pakistan is a lack of any real muscle in their middle or lower order. They have some nice stroke makers and players who can nudge and nurdle it around but you feel as though at some point they will miss a player who can come in and blast 50 from 30 deliveries. Bowling wise they have the talent and variety to cause any team problems as we saw in the Champions Trophy in 2017. Pakistan probably won't mind if the pitches have a bit of grass on them and that the conditions offer a bit of swing. It's difficult to get much out of the white ball these days but if Pakistan can then you wouldn't bet against them sneaking another win if they manage to get through to the semi-final stage. New Zealand Don't write off the Black Caps would be my advice! Ross Taylor has been Kohliesque of late averaging 91 in ODIs played in 2018. Alongside him is one of my favourite cricketers, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and the experienced Martin Guptill. They have decent all-rounders in Mitch Santner and Colin De Grandhomme as well as variety in their seam attack with the left-arm / right arm combination of Boult and Southee complimented by the raw pace of Ferguson. Leg spin is a key factor in all white ball cricket and in that sense, Ish Sodhi is also not to be underestimated. With it's relatively small population what New Zealand don't have are many options. We can pretty much pick their squad already and so it's perhaps understandable that they are the only side in the competition who won't play another ODI between now and the warm-up games at the end of May. Could being fit and fresh be the key to their success later in the tournament? Consider this blog as a starter with a more substantial overviews of all 10 teams to come as the tournament draws closer. Which nation do you think is in the best shape as we head towards the World Cup? What questions do you feel your side needs to answer in the next few months? Who is going to win the cricket World Cup?
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