Cricket World Cup Format
The World Cup has been reduced to 10 teams since the 14-strong tournament in 2015, sparking outrage from the smaller associate nations. All 10 teams will play each other once in the group stage, which runs from 30th May until 6th July. The top four qualify for the semi-finals and then Lord’s will host the final on 14th July. But which country will come out on top? Here are the latest cricket betting tips:
Afghanistan – Odds of winning 80/1
The outsiders with bookmakers and the newest cricketing nation of the participating teams, Afghanistan only scraped into the tournament following near-elimination in the qualifying event last year. Not that any of their more illustrious rivals will be taking them lightly…
Why They Could Win – Rashid Khan will be one of the most feared bowlers at the World Cup and is set to be complemented by fellow mystery man Mujeeb Ur Rahman and the veteran Mohammad Nabi in a spin attack that could arguably be the most potent in the tournament. There is plenty of power in the batting line-up too, with six machine Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad set to form one of the most entertaining opening partnerships.
Why They Won’t Win – Despite the presence of a couple of superstars, there just isn’t the strength in depth and the pitches aren’t likely to suit Afghanistan’s slow bowlers or their batters. The majority of the players are not used to competing against the best in the world and the pace attack is unlikely to trouble many batting lineups. Preparation has hardly been ideal, either, with Asghar Afghan jettisoned as captain just months before the World Cup in a move that was criticised by senior players.
One To Watch - Ranked as the No.1 T20I bowler in the world and third in the ODI list, it is impossible to look past Rashid Khan - a leg-spinning match-winner who has already been tormenting top-class batsmen for years and is now primed to star at his first World Cup.
Verdict – Group stage exit but at least a couple of wins
Australia – Odds of winning 4/1
Australia have had a turbulent journey since winning the 2015 World Cup at home, with a run of dismal results and then the ‘sandpaper-gate’ scandal which prompted such scrutiny into the very culture of cricket in the country. However, with form suddenly and dramatically picking up ahead of the tournament and with key men available again, they are still very much a force to be reckoned with.
Why They Could Win – Steven Smith and David Warner are back from their bans for ball-tampering and shaping up well after playing in the IPL. Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja have established an effective combination at the top of the order and there are signs that Glenn Maxwell has finally found the consistency to go with his destructive batting talent. The seam-bowling attack is perhaps the best in the tournament, with Pat Cummins and 2015 man-of-the-tournament Mitchell Starc expected to wreak havoc with the new ball.
What Could Stop Them Winning – The upheaval and the injuries of the past couple of years have made it impossible for coach Justin Langer to field his best team and it could take a while to work out the ideal XI. There are questions for Langer to ponder: does Warner just slot back into the role of opener or does he leave Khawaja and Finch in place? What will Smith and Warner’s returns do to team harmony? The spin and wicket-keeping departments also look weak in comparison to other sides.
One To Watch – David Warner is fresh from being the top runscorer at the IPL and could well do the same at the World Cup. He has a point to prove and will feel that a strong tournament from him could set Australia up to defend their crown.
Verdict – A strong World Cup to end in the semi-finals
Bangladesh – Odds of winning 80/1
A formidable ODI team at home, Bangladesh do not usually travel so well and expectations among Tigers fans will be realistic. They reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Australia, but it will take a supreme effort to reach the knockout stage this time.
Why They Could Win – Bangladesh have had a fairly settled side for a while now. Opener Tamim Iqbal, wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, batsman Mahmudullah and captain Mashrafe Mortaza have all been on the international stage for more than a decade and are now at peak age in their early 30s. Throw in a sprinkling of younger talents such as Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur ‘The Fizz’ Rahman’, and an encouraging warm-up tri-series against Ireland and West Indies, and there is room for optimism.
Why They Won’t Win – For all their experience, Bangladesh don’t have the quality throughout their squad to challenge for the trophy on English pitches. The lack of pace and mystery spin will render their bowling attack toothless and they could be on the wrong end of some big totals. Bangladesh’s batsmen do not have the six-hitting ability to match up to other sides and they will probably fall short more times than not.
One To Watch – Shakib Al Hasan is one of the greatest all-rounders in the game and commands a place through both his batting and his bowling. Capable of scoring big runs quickly, he is set to bat at No.3 in England.
Verdict – Group stage exit and unlikely to be in contention for a semi-final spot
England – Odds of winning 9/4
From an embarrassingly early exit in Australia to favourites this time, England’s transformation in ODI cricket over the past four years has been remarkable. With home conditions and vociferous support, can they claim World Cup glory for the first time in their history?
Why They Could Win – England’s game plan since the last World Cup has been built upon all-out aggression with the bat, and they have blazed a trail of record scores to such an extent that totals of 350 and even 400 have become commonplace. The confidence comes from knowing that they bat all the way down to No.11, but it is the top seven that possesses the most power, with Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali all causing carnage on a regular basis. They also have a varied bowling attack, with the arrival of Jofra Archer adding a new and potentially decisive dimension.
What Could Stop Them Winning – While England’s batting has been sensational in recent times, the bowlers have suffered some punishment. Chris Woakes and Mark Wood have been plagued by injuries, while there are question marks over Liam Plunkett and for all the hype over Archer, he remains untested at this level. England will also be concerned about the odd calamitous performance that still infects their batting, particularly on difficult pitches, and will hope to avoid such a collapse in a semi-final or final.
One To Watch – All of the batsmen are match-winners but the one who opposition bowlers will be dreading the most is Jos Buttler. Described as ‘freakish’ by captain Eoin Morgan, he has shots all around the wicket and scores more quickly than just about anyone in the world, making him very difficult to contain when he gets into full flow.
Verdict - World Cup winners at last if they can hold their form
India – Odds of winning 11/4
Consistently one of the best teams in the world in limited-overs cricket, India were successful in 2011 and are once again expected to challenge for the biggest ODI trophy. Can Virat Kohli lead his men to victory?
Why They Could Win – India’s squad is brimming with experience and they seem to have all bases covered. The top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli must be the classiest in the tournament, while in the middle order they have the master finisher MS Dhoni and the master blaster Hardik Pandya. Jasprit Bumrah is ranked as the No.1 bowler in the world and is lethal at the start and end of an innings. In the middle overs, India will rely on their spinners to put the brakes on even the best batting sides.
What Could Stop Them Winning – There are no glaring weaknesses in the India team and the No.4 spot is the only one not to have been really nailed down in advance. India’s chances may depend on how the surfaces play in England, and if they are batting paradises the tournament could be won by the most powerful line-up. India probably do not quite match up to England in this regard, so they will be hoping the pitches become harder to bat on as they are used throughout the event.
One To Watch – The No.1 ODI batsman in the world right now, and arguably the greatest of all time, Virat Kohli usually thrives on the big occasion. He is particularly adept in chases, having scored more than 20 centuries when India have batted second.
Verdict – World Cup runners-up, but it will take something special to beat them
New Zealand – Odds of winning 10/1
A team with a reputation for punching above their weight, New Zealand will be hoping to once again defy the odds which suggest they will have a solid but unspectacular run. They are the fifth favourites and will be setting their sights on a spot in the semi-finals at least.
Why They Could Win – New Zealand were runners-up to Australia four years ago and the core of that squad remains intact, with Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor the senior batsmen and Trent Boult and Tim Southee the leaders of the bowling attack. Lockie Ferguson provides genuine pace, which could be crucial on flat pitches, while there is plenty of depth to the batting line-up, with all-rounders such as Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner.
Why They Won’t Win – New Zealand have historically had a team which adds up to more than the sum of its parts and it is the same for the 2019 vintage. However, that means there is a lack of star quality throughout the team, with top-order batsmen who do not score as quickly as some of their contemporaries and bowlers who struggle to stop the flow of runs on lifeless pitches. Other teams may be able to carry one or two underperforming passengers, but New Zealand need everyone playing at their maximum just to make an impact.
One To Watch – Kane Williamson is one of the premier batsmen in the world across all formats. He may not be the biggest hitter in the game but he is the perfect anchor at No.3 for this New Zealand side to bat around.
Verdict – Not this time for the Black Caps as a group stage exit beckons
Pakistan – Odds of winning 14/1
Labelled unpredictable on the eve of every major tournament, Pakistan can be expected to produce at least a couple of dazzling displays and probably a shocker or two as well. If their form is good enough to finish in the top four, the rest of the world had better watch out.
Why They Could Win – Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in England in 2017, starting poorly before thrashing the hosts in the semi-finals and then India in the final. They have a battery of talented fast bowlers such as Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi, while Babar Azam is one of the most gifted No.3s in the world and Fakhar Zaman one of the most explosive openers. The warm-up series against England has shown they can post big totals and if everything clicks they will be a big threat.
Why They Won’t Win – The squad has an unbalanced look to it in terms of experience, as some of the players seem too raw and others past their best. The bowling attack, skilful as it is, can look ineffective at times if they don’t find their rhythm. Coach Mickey Arthur has not worked out his best batting line-up ahead of the tournament, and the series against England showed that they are still not the best fielding unit.
One To Watch – Hasan Ali was the player of the tournament at the Champions Trophy two years ago, bowling with pace, control, intelligence and swing. His star has waned again since then but, at the age of 24, he has all the attributes to shine at the World Cup.
Verdict – Too inconsistent to make it past the group stage
South Africa – Odds of winning 9/1
South Africa have been to the semi-finals four times without ever going on to the final, but hope springs eternal and another strong squad has been assembled for the World Cup in England. It remains to be seen whether it is quite strong enough to help the Proteas into uncharted territory.
Why They Could Win – South Africa will have one of the best bowling attacks at the World Cup, with Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi offering express pace. Imran Tahir, meanwhile, provides the guile with his leg breaks and could be one of the most effective spinners in the tournament even at the age of 40. The batting line-up looks strong too, with dashing opener Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis both ranked in the world’s top five.
What Could Stop Them Winning – AB de Villiers’ retirement from international cricket has left a void that was impossible to fill, such was his standing as one of the game’s best-ever batsmen. Coach Ottis Gibson must also work out a way to balance his side as there must be concerns over the lack of a top-quality all-rounder, meaning they could struggle for a sixth bowling option in matches or have a batting line-up which fizzles out after the top six.
One To Watch - Taking early wickets could be the key to success in England, and Kagiso Rabada is likely to be one of the most deadly pace men at the World Cup. As the spearhead of South Africa’s bowling unit, ‘KG’ is supremely quick, skilful and fearsome.
Verdict – The Proteas’ reputation as semi-final chokers will grow stronger in England
Sri Lanka - Odds of winning 40/1
Winners in 1996 and twice finalists since, Sri Lanka have had such a bad run of results and chaotic build-up to this World Cup that only the most optimistic of fans will be thinking they have a chance this year. Avoiding last place in the group table may be a more realistic ambition.
Why They Could Win – They do have a history of defying the odds, having won in 1996 and, more recently, claiming a Test series victory away to South Africa earlier this year. There is a bit of class and experience in the 2019 squad, most notably Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews, while others such as Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera are capable of playing special knocks. Talented players such as Avishka Fernando and Isuru Udana will be unknown quantities to most teams, having only just burst onto the international scene.
Why They Won’t Win – Apart from the remarkable Test win in South Africa, Sri Lanka have been struggling for a few years now as they have been unable to replace their retired legends. They have chopped and changed their team so much that selectors eventually decided to bring in Dimuth Karunaratne, a man who had not played an ODI since 2015, as their new captain just a month before the tournament started. There are very few players who are established as regulars in the team, with the batting too brittle and the bowling underwhelming.
One To Watch – Amid Sri Lanka’s worries, Lasith Malinga remains one of the most accomplished limited-overs bowlers in the world, particularly at the death. His latest magic act came when he delivered a nerveless final over to help Mumbai Indians win the IPL final by one run.
Verdict – Group stage exit and perhaps propping up the table
West Indies – Odds of winning 14/1
They haven’t won a 50-over World Cup since the 1970s, or been to a final since the 1980s, but the West Indies will fancy their chances of adding another trophy to the long list of prizes they have won in the T20 game.
Why They Could Win – The Windies have some of the most formidable hitters in world cricket, including Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer and ‘Dre Russ’ Andre Russell, among others. With such a line-up of hulking, powerful batters, it is no surprise that many of them have become T20 superstars and if they can transfer this form into ODI cricket there may not be another side to match them, even hosts England. Captain Jason Holder has worked wonders to unite the team and also has an impressive arsenal of pace bowlers at his disposal, featuring Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell and Shannon Gabriel.
What Could Stop Them Winning – Many of the top players have been so busy playing franchise T20 cricket around the globe that they have barely played any ODIs recently, certainly not lining up together in what would be the first-choice XI. Russell, for example, hasn’t played anything longer than a T20 since last July and there are doubts over whether the likes of him and Gayle can stay fit for the whole tournament. Rotating the strike between the boundaries isn’t a strength of many of the West Indies batters, and the inclusion of Ashley Nurse as the sole spinner in the squad does not inspire confidence.
One To Watch – The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle is set to play his fifth World Cup at the age of 39. He may not like to run between the wickets and is a bit of a liability in the field, but when you can still dismantle opposition bowlers like he can it hardly matters. Expect a very special World Cup swansong.
Verdict – Group stage exit as they fall just short of the top four