By Peter Moore

  •  Host England look to handle home pressure as favourites and win first World Cup this summer
  •  Afghanistan enter ten-team tournament as heavy underdogs
  •  Holders Australia look to retain their 2015 crown
LORDS, ENGLAND – On the eve of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, Britwatch Sports present an extensive guide to this summer’s tournament in England and Wales. Can the hosts finally become world champions?

 

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This summer, the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 will bring together the world’s 10 best One-day International teams to compete in 48 games across 11 venues culminating in the Final at Lords. Here is everything you need to know.

 

How it will work

The round-robin format sees each team play one another with the top four sides competing in the semi-finals, First will play Fourth and Second will play Third, with the two winning teams meeting on Sunday 14th July.

The ten sides taking part are, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies. Australia will be looking to defend their title and repeat their victory of 1999 when the event was last held in England and Wales.

Hosts and number one ranked side England will start as undoubted favourites, but they will be closely challenged by Australia and India – who will be looking for a third title. 1992 world champions and Champions Trophy winners Pakistan will be looking to repeat their glorious summer of 2017. Both previous winners of the trophy West Indies and Sri Lanka will also pose a serious threat.

Current holders Australia defeated New Zealand in the last World Cup final back in 2015 by seven wickets, after beating Pakistan in the quarter-finals and defending champions India in the semis to set up a final against co-hosts New Zealand. The victory for the Aussies secured a record fifth world cup for the men in yellow.

 

The teams

England

For once in a sporting summer it won’t be England’s football team that will have the whole country rooting for them, but instead the focus will be switched to Cricket. England will never have a better chance of winning the World Cup, as they have everything in their favour. The tournament being held in the host country will always favour the hosts as they will have the advantage of playing in their own conditions.

After 44 years, 11 tournaments, three unsuccessful trips to the final and so many disappointments along the way, there is now a growing feeling that this really could be England’s year.

This squad that has been selected just oozes confidence, knowing that it has all it needs with both bat and ball to overcome any opposition. England must also be the only side in the tournament that have an embarrassment of riches of top players to pick from in this format of the game. The selectors would have had many a sleepless night trying to decide on the final fifteen, and who would be the unlucky players to leave out.

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David Willey and Joe Denly have unluckily been left out the squad, with Jofra Archer, Tom Curran and Liam Dawson given the nod. Archer, so far has just made three one-day internationals for England, but has already impressed in such a short space of time. Surrey’s Curran has edged out left-armer Willey, probably for his batting. England have also opted for the specialist spin of Hampshire slow-left armer Dawson rather than the all-round option of Denly. Under one of the finest ODI Captain’s around Eoin Morgan, this team has everything covered in all departments. A superb batting and bowling side complimented with a team that are so very good in the field, you can see why they understandably are the team to beat.

The only issue in which England may fail is will the pressure of being the home side affect them. When put under intensive pressure will this affect them. Certainly, so far whatever situation has been thrown at them they have responded. From an England point of view, long may that continue.

England, have never won the tournament and will be looking to improve on their last appearance in the World cup back in 2015, when they were eliminated at the group stage. The hosts will open the Tournament with the opening match of the World Cup when they face South Africa at the Oval on Thursday 30th May.

 

Australia

As recently at the start of March it appeared that Australia had no chance of winning the tournament. They were in the middle of a series against India and were trailing 2-0. After that defeat, Australia had lost 22 of their completed 29 ODI’s, one of their worst ever runs in the format. Then their fortunes changed by drawing level after chasing down 359 for victory. They completed the job in New Delhi by winning the fifth ODI and haven’t looked back since.

Whitewashing Pakistan in the UAE, even without the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner, to continue an excellent run which has seen them win eight games in a row. Disgraced Smith and Warner made their re-appearances for Australia in a warm up match with England at the Ageas Bowl, with both getting booed from the moment they walked to the wicket to the time that they made their way back to the pavilion. Smith answered his critics with his bat, by hitting a century in a six-wicket Australia win.

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Australia will go into the tournament as third favourites under the astute leadership of captain Aaron Finch. The Aussies will also have Mitchell Starc returning and Smith and Warner will be back in the yellow of Australia, virtually a year after their ban. Alongside leading wicket taker in the 2015 World Cup Starc will be quick bowler Pat Cummins who ended up the leading wicket taker in the recent India ODI series.

Having won the World Cup no less than five times, Australia cannot be discounted, and will be one of the sides expected to go deep into the competition. The current holders will commence their defence of the World Cup against Afghanistan at Bristol on 1st June.

 

India

Two times winners of the World Cup India will go into the tournament knowing that they have made it to the last four of every major one-day tournament since 2011, the year they won their second World Cup.

Despite a recent ODI series defeat to Australia earlier this year, second favourites India must be expected to go very deep in the competition. They have a squad packed full of proven performers and boast star names in all departments, such as the prolific run scoring machine Virat Kohli– who will arrive in England in a rich vein of form having scored over 1,800 runs including nine centuries since the start of 2018 – and batsman Rohit Sharma.

They also have in their ranks a quality bowler in Jasprit Bumrah– The No.1 ODI bowler in the world- who has the pace to bowl India to victory. Veterans Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should provide Bumrah with stellar support. With the potential of big runs and some of the world’s best bowlers, India have a hungry side who have an excellent chance of winning their second World Cup in the last three.

 

Pakistan

Winners of the ICC Champions Trophy in these shores back in 2017, Pakistan know what it is like to perform in big events. They have reached the final four on no fewer than five occasions in the tournament’s history.

Despite this fine record, they are doubts over the side’s consistency, Having already suffered a series loss against England 4-0 recently, Pakistan showed in that series that they need to improve their fielding alongside an inconsistent bowling attack. However, their batting certainly looks to be their strong point. They will look no further than the very exciting Babar Azam. The 24-year-old began his career by becoming one of the fastest to reach 1,000 runs. He has lived up to the hype and could well be one of the players to watch in the tournament. With the ball they will look towards spin in the shape of Shadab Khan and seamer Hasan Ali.

Pakistan will start their campaign off with a game against the West Indies at Trent Bridge on Friday 31st May. If they can start of with a win, this side may just surprise a few people, but the bowling needs to improve for them to be a serious threat.

 

South Africa

Many people’s dark horses for the tournament South Africa have on paper the ideal squad to lift their first World Cup. Semi-Finalists no less than four times- the last being in 2015 when they lost to New Zealand – the Proteas will look to the combined formula of experience and youth to lead their challenge.

Spearheaded by the skipper Faf du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock alongside young star Lungi Ngidi with the old campaigners Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir, there is surely enough talent in the side to go all the way, except the question as always with South Africa is the same; Can they go all the way?

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Despite losing AB De Villiers – who called it a day in International Cricket recently- there is also question marks about the top order. South Africa welcome back JP Duminy after a long-term injury, while much will be expected of the return of Ngidi, who claimed 26 scalps in his first full year of ODI cricket.

 

New Zealand

The Kiwis will come into the tournament with the unwanted reputation as the World Cup’s nearly man having suffered six semi-final defeats and a runners up finish in 2015. Despite that defeat in the last World Cup final to Australia, the Black caps have kicked on and are currently ranked third in ODI rankings.

New Zealand will certainly enjoy the conditions in England which look like suiting the likes of swing bowler Trent Boult. With the bat the Kiwis can look towards captain Kane Willliamson, opener Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor to produce plenty of runs. Apart from Boult, the experienced Tim Southee and Matt Henry both of whom are coming back to form and fitness, with Henry used to English conditions having picked up 75 wickets for Kent last summer, the Black Caps will certainly be a match for anybody on any given day.

 

West Indies

Had it not been for unseasonal rain in Zimbabwe, the West Indies might have missed out on the World Cup for the first time in their history. Winners of the competition twice back in the seventies 1975 and 1979, they boast one of the most explosive players in white ball cricket. Second oldest player in the competition Chris Gayle, who will be keen to sign off his international career on a high.

The 39-year-old can take a game away in just one sensational innings, as many a bowler will know to their costs. As they showed in a drawn series against England recently, the boys from the Caribbean can go toe-to-toe with anybody on their day. Led by skipper Jason Holder the West Indies have talent but haven’t won a bilateral series in one-day cricket since 2014. Aside from Gayle, West Indies have in their side talented young batsman Shai Hope who is a class act, since making his ODI debut back in 2016 he has certainly lived up to all the hype around him.

The West Indies have a poor record in the World Cup, having reached the semi-finals just once, and are not one of the sides to figure on most people’s lips to who will win the 2019 ICC World Cup.

 

Sri Lanka

Previous winners and twice runners up Sri Lanka come into the World Cup on the back of some dreadful form which has seen them lose 32 of their last 42 ODI’s since the Champions Trophy in England in 2017.

They have also lost the services of the prolific run scoring machine in Kumar Sangakkara who retired from International Cricket. Apart from Sangakkara, Sri Lanka have also lost experienced players Mahela Jayawardene and Tillekaratne Dilshan. Captaining the side in England will be current Test Dimuth Karunaratne, who hasn’t played in an ODI since Sri Lanka’s indifferent showing in the last World Cup.

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Sri Lanka will look to the experienced Lasith Malinga– one of the great one-day bowlers and Angelo Mathews with the bat. This is also a side that has really struggled to take wickets in recent years with just two Sri Lankan’s in the top 50 leading wicket takers for 2018, Akila Dananjaya and MDJK Perera.

Sri Lanka don’t look like a side that will feature in the final four, and will but will need to start the competition well with a tough opening game against New Zealand.

 

Bangladesh

Former quarter-finalists back in 2015, Bangladesh go into the World Cup full of belief that they can be competitive in the tournament. The Tigers enjoyed playing in England in the Champions Trophy after reaching the semi-finals.

Captained by Mashrafe Mortaza, alongside experienced heads of Shakib Al-Hasan and opener Tamim Iqbal. The main cause for concern for the Tigers is their poor performances away from home which has resulted in whitewashes against New Zealand and South Africa.

Bangladesh will start their campaign off against South Africa, before matches against New Zealand and England.

 

Afghanistan

What a cricketing journey it has been for Afghanistan. 16 years ago, they held their very first trials to form a national team. In 2015 they made their debut in the World Cup, and four years later they have made it through to the competition once again.

Back in 2015 they recorded their maiden win in the competition over Scotland in Dunedin, and it will take a foolish person to think that will be their only World Cup win. English conditions may be against them, but this side have already provided upsets against other cricketing nations in the past.

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Rashid Khan is the player to watch for Afghanistan, having risen already to the second placed ranked white ball bowler in the World. The leg spinner will be a player to watch and batsman to be very wary of.

Afghanistan’s record since the last World Cup is impressive as well having won 32 of their last 59 ODI’s. The one major problem facing them will be their limited experience of playing against the very best nations.

 

The venues

The eleven venues that will be used for the Cricket World Cup will be:

Trent Bridge, Nottingham; The Riverside, Durham, The Oval, London, The Ageas Bowl, Southampton; The County Ground, Taunton; Sofia Gardens, Cardiff; Old Trafford, Manchester; Edgbaston, Birmingham; Lords, London; Headingley, Leeds and The County Ground Bristol.

 

The fixtures

Thursday 30th May England vs South Africa, The Oval

Friday 31st May West Indies vs Pakistan, Trent Bridge

Saturday 1st June New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, Cardiff

Saturday 1st June Afghanistan vs Australia, Bristol

Sunday 2nd June South Africa vs Bangladesh, The Oval

Monday 3rd June England vs Pakistan, Trent Bridge

Tuesday 4th June Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Cardiff

Wednesday 5th June South Africa vs India, Hampshire Bowl

Wednesday 5th June Bangladesh vs New Zealand, The Oval

Thursday 6th June Australia vs West Indies, Trent Bridge

Friday 7th June Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Bristol

Saturday 8th June England vs Bangladesh, Cardiff

Saturday 8th June Afghanistan vs New Zealand, Taunton

Sunday 9th June India vs Australia, The Oval

Monday 10th June South Africa vs West Indies, Hampshire Bowl

Tuesday 11th June Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, Bristol

Wednesday 12th June Australia vs Pakistan, Taunton

Thursday 13th June India vs New Zealand, Trent Bridge

Friday 14th June England vs West Indies, Hampshire Bowl

Saturday 15th June Sri Lanka vs Australia, The Oval

Saturday 15th June South Africa vs Afghanistan, Cardiff

Sunday 16th June India vs Pakistan, Old Trafford

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Monday 17th June West Indies vs Bangladesh, Taunton

Tuesday 18th June England vs Afghanistan, Old Trafford

Wednesday 19th June New Zealand vs South Africa, Edgbaston

Thursday 20th June Australia vs Bangladesh, Trent Bridge

Friday 21st June England vs Sri Lanka, Headingley

Saturday 22nd June India vs Afghanistan, Hampshire Bowl

Saturday 22nd June West Indies vs New Zealand, Old Trafford

Sunday 23rd June Pakistan vs South Africa, Lords

Monday 24th June Bangladesh vs Afghanistan, Hampshire Bowl

Tuesday 25th June England vs Australia, Lords

Wednesday 26th June New Zealand vs Pakistan, Edgbaston

Thursday 27th June West Indies vs India, Old Trafford

Friday 28th June Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Riverside Durham

Saturday 29th June Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Headingley

Saturday 29th June New Zealand vs Australia, Lords

Sunday 30th June England vs India, Edgbaston

Monday 1st July Sri Lanka vs West Indies, Riverside Durham

Tuesday 2nd July Bangladesh vs India, Edgbaston

Wednesday 3rd July England vs New Zealand, Riverside Durham

Thursday 4th July Afghanistan vs West Indies, Headingley

Friday 5th July Pakistan vs Bangladesh, Lords

Saturday 6th July Sri Lanka vs India, Headingley

Saturday 6th July Australia vs South Africa,

 

SEMI FINALS:

First vs Fourth Tuesday 9th July, Old Trafford

Second vs Third Thursday 11th July, Edgbaston

 

FINAL: Sunday 14th July, Lords

 

The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup gets under way on Thursday 30 May, as hosts England face South Africa at the Oval, South London

 

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