Cricket World Cup Preview: Can England live up to favourites tag?
Odds and preview for the 2019 Cricket World Cup
Is this finally going to be England’s year? Despite appearing in every edition of the Cricket World Cup, England have never lifted the trophy before. And they may not have a better chance than this summer.
England and Wales share hosting duties, and home support could make all the difference in the 10-team tournament. Every team will face each other once in the group stage, with the top four progressing to the semi-finals.
We’ll have previews of the biggest games throughout the tournament. But before play gets started on Thursday, we’ve examined the top contenders…
England are the top-ranked team in the ICC’s ODI team rankings, and they’re favourites with our traders too.
This current England side is almost unrecognisable from the one that was dumped out in the group stages in 2015. They’ve become an incredible big-scoring side in recent years.
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy set the pace, while Jos Buttler’s stunning 50-ball century against Pakistan earlier this month was the sign of a batsman in top form.
There is quality and depth in the bowling unit too. Adil Rashid has taken 129 wickets since 2015, more than any other player in one-day action, while Jofra Archer could become a star over the next few weeks.
The big question is whether the hosts can cope with the expectation. Eoin Morgan has kept the side ticking over nicely so far, but this will be a test of his leadership skills.
You can never count India out, especially with the talent among the top three in the batting order.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma usually get the Men in Blue off to a superb start, while Virat Kohli may well be the best batsman in the world.
England may able to rack up big scores, but no one is better at chasing them down than the India captain. Kohli averages 95.24 – with 21 hundreds – when batting second in matches that India go on to win.
Add in the experience of MS Dhoni and their dynamic bowling unit, and there are plenty of reasons for the Indian support to believe.
However, there are concerns over their middle order, especially with Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar not fully fit.
After a few difficult years, Australia look to have sorted out their issues just in time to come into the tournament with real momentum.
After a run of two ODI wins in 13, the Baggy Greens have won their last 10 games. That streak includes a 5-0 demolition of Pakistan. They also overturned a 2-0 scoreline to beat India in a five-match series in India.
The return of Steve Smith and David Warner could be huge, with Warner particularly impressive for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL action this year. He hit 692 runs, more than any other player in the league.
The holders have won four of the last five tournaments and seem to have a handy knack of winning when it really matters. They’d also love to win the World Cup and the Ashes on English soil this year.
South Africa have plenty of star power, with Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada among their ranks.
They come into the tournament in strong form too, winning 13 of their last 16 ODIs. But they’ve never won the Cricket World Cup. And the weight of history is a heavy burden.
The last time England hosted the World Cup, Allan Donald and Lance Klusener’s horrific mix-up and subsequent run-out cost South Africa a place in the final.
It would be fitting if the Proteas made amends this time around, but can they hold their nerve?
With plenty of hype around England, India and Australia’s chances, New Zealand have almost gone under the radar.
But they’ve got a very solid squad, with a genuine star in Kane Williamson. They can compete with anyone on their day.
They’ve also reached the semi-finals in the last three tournaments that England have hosted. And having been beaten by Australia in the 2015 final, they’ll be determined to upset the favourites and go one better this year.
Their opening three fixtures are against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, which gives the Kiwis the chance to build up a head of steam.
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All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication