ICC Cricket World Cup: Preview

The world of cricket looks forward to the 13th of February, when England will face Australia in the opening match of the 2015 World Cup, but which sides have the edge going into the tournament? Focusing on England’s chances, the host nations and the intriguing case of India, here’s a look at what might be coming our way.

To begin with England, most pundits and supporters alike would probably agree that World Cup glory might have to wait another four years. While such an outlook before a ball has even been bowled might seem slightly pessimistic, recent results have done little to indicate that Morgan’s men are in with a realistic shout. Certainly, the two results against India in the past two weeks have signalled a definite improvement under England’s new skipper, but there is simply too much to rectify for a side whose recent one-day cricket has not been particularly inspiring.

England’s three consecutive losses to Australia have done nothing to indicate a positive result in their opening group match, with the poor batting display of the tri-series’ final epitomising all the issues of the last year or so of ODI cricket. While the side shows promise, with the likes of James Taylor coming through and Steven Finn rediscovering some form, and the potential of players such as Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan, it still has some way to go.

There is simply too much to rectify for a side whose recent one-day cricket has not been particularly inspiring

In terms of the host nations, Australia and New Zealand, we are possibly looking at the two favourites to go on and win the competition. Australia’s recent form has been unprecedented, with David Warner and Steve Smith playing some fantastically dynamic cricket, backed up by a bowling attack with pace, aggression and consistency. Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc are bowling very quickly, and Josh Hazelwood’s no slouch either. The Aussies also boast a pair of high quality all-rounders in Faulkner and Maxwell, and still have Michael Clarke to come back into the side. Cricket Australia has a right to be optimistic.

As for the so frequently underrated Kiwis, their flair is perfectly supported by their solidity. Brendon McCullum possesses the ability to take the game away from any opposition, meaning it would be foolish to discount the black caps. New Zealand have the young Adam Milne coming through and bowling quickly, as well as a number of very good one day cricketers in Elliot, Guptill and Mills. Although the co-hosts might not be as flamboyant as their local rivals, they always perform well in major tournaments, and will be hard for any side to beat on their day.

India are arguably the surprise package of the build up to the World cup. Dhoni’s men were looking very ominous only two months ago, with their dynamic batting line up setting some phenomenal scores, and chasing down very respectable targets with an arrogant ease. In ODI cricket, everything was going right for them, and they could often afford to add a touch of arrogance to the proceedings.

As for the so frequently underrated Kiwis, their flair is perfectly supported by their solidity

However, their recent matches against England and Australia have seen them come undone. Their Batsmen look shadows of their sub-continental selves (as is so often the case when the ball is swinging and bouncing) and their bowlers do not look particularly threatening. For a side who were demolishing Sri Lanka only two months ago, the events of recent weeks will undoubtedly have set them back somewhat. While such a talented outfit cannot be discounted nor overlooked, their form has been a surprise, and will certainly be a worry for all those involved with Indian cricket.

To summarise, England are certainly underdogs in this tournament, with it seeming very unlikely that anything but batting collapses will dominate their match reports. They are a side that have unquestionable potential, but are a long way off being the finished product. Australia and New Zealand stand as good a chance as anyone (and a better chance than most) in their own backyard, while India seem to be falling significantly short of the heights they have recently been reaching. It goes without saying that the South Africans and Sri Lankans are dangerous sides, with the West Indies also having displayed a marked improvement in their recent one-day form.

It will be fascinating to see whether England and India can disprove their critics, and whether the host nations can live up to their billing as favourites. Should these things happen, the 2015 World Cup could well be one of the most exciting major tournaments of recent times.

Alex Stockton

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