- Australia have a remarkable record at World Cups, winning six out of the previous ten tournaments. The rich tradition has continued with the current crop of players, and Australia underlined their status as favourites with a 2-1 series victory over New Zealand in March.
- Three-time World Cup champions England have been in excellent form over the past 12 months, triumphing in series against Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Ireland. They also warmed up for the tournament with a crushing eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, knocking off the target with almost 20 overs to spare.
- New Zealand were highly competitive in their 2-1 series defeat by Australia earlier this year, and also managed to beat their local rivals in a T20 series. West Indies showed how dangerous they can be when they won the 2016 T20 World Cup, while India are also among the favourites after showing recent improvement.
The format of the tournament, with every team playing each other once in a big group before the semi-finals, should ensure that there are no problems for either of the favourites. It is possible that Australia or England might slip up in one or two of the matches, but they have too much class to remain consistently below par and should both cruise through to the last four.
Australia’s power-packed batting line-up, led by the ‘Megastar’ Meg Lanning, is sure to post some imposing totals and they have the balanced bowling attack to back it up. England have home advantage and a talented team, with Sarah Taylor back in the fold following a year out with an anxiety condition. They are marginally better priced than Australia and should be able to get on a good roll by the time they face their harder group games later in the tournament.
Of the remaining teams, West Indies could claim a couple of scalps in the group stage and there are some exciting players to look out for in the South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan teams, while India are really emerging as a force. However, the pitches may not suit them so well and New Zealand look better equipped at 6/1 to perhaps upset the top two. Captain Suzie Bates is among the best players in the world and should lead New Zealand to the semis, so a lot will depend on whether they then have to face England or Australia. If England can work their way into the other side of the draw for the business end of the tournament, they will only need to beat one of the Trans-Tasman nations at Lord’s to finish as champions.
- Sports.net’s top tip: England to win the World Cup - 5/2
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.