The 12th staging of the ICC World Cup is a mere 4 months away. The cast that will compete for cricket’s top prize happens to be complete too, which means now is a good time to look forward to the sport’s premier showpiece. So, which team will be the last one standing in July?
Here are the favorites:
The Men in Blue started the year in style, winning their first Test series in Australia since 1948. They have kept at it since, taking two of three ODIs from Australia and winning the first two against New Zealand. India’s dominance against the Black Caps, in fact, prompted the New Zealand police to issue a tongue-in-cheek “warning” about the Men in Blue. As we reported here at The Cricket Times, the Eastern District Police of New Zealand took to Facebook to warn citizens about “the exploits of a group touring the country at the moment.” That group will next take its act to the UK in May, where it will be the heavy favorite to win it all. The Men in Blue are loaded with some of cricket’s brightest names, from team captain Virat Kohli to former captain MS Dhoni to veteran stars Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
England is playing even better than India and is actually the pick of Yahoo! News as the favorite to win the Cricket World Cup, owing to its remarkable play these past four years. At the heart of England’s years of spectacular play has been its batting, with four of the five top ODI run scorers for 2018 on the squad. Leading the charge is Jonny Bairstow, who scored 1,025 runs. He is followed by Joe Root (936), Jason Roy (890), and Eoin Morgan (756). Further, England, like India, is stocked with talent. Aside from their precocious batsmen, the English also boast of Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, and Moeen Ali, all of whom have world-class talent. On top of it all, England will also have home field advantage.
India and England are the sexy picks as favorites given that they are arguably the two best teams in the world, talent wise. But former England skipper Nasser Hussain thinks otherwise. The News notes that Hussain is picking Pakistan to win the Cricket World Cup. Sure, Pakistan may not have the star power of India and England, but the Men in Green have some pretty good players, too. Their middle order — India’s Achilles’ heel — is a proven difference maker. That of England, meanwhile, has been solid, but not to the level of Pakistan’s. Then there is the Sarfraz Ahmed effect. Ahmed knows how to lift up everyone around him. Don’t be surprised if he does so again in the upcoming World Cup.
The highly anticipated Cricket World Cup will be held from May to July and will feature 10 of the world’s best cricket nations. It is expected to be a major draw, and underscore yet again the immense popularity of the sport despite reports of a dwindling fan base. Whether such rumors are true or not is immaterial, though, as cricket remains relevant enough to be spreading throughout the world in various ways. Perhaps most visibly, cricket is popular enough for game developers to align themselves with the sport. The online slot Cricket Star alludes to cricket and features some of the sport’s most recognizable players. It’s is a clear indication that cricket still resonates to a large number of fans.
More directly, we are also seeing interest in cricket expanding around the world, with multiple reports in recent years indicating there is growing interest in the United States (where cricket has traditionally been a fringe sport at best). Americans will not have direct involvement with the Cup, but with more and more of them watching and playing the sport, there should be increased international attention surrounding the tournament.
These same fans – the ones playing cricket games online and taking up interest where cricket has never been a big sport before – should only add to the spectatorship for this summer’s World Cup, and help make it the best one yet.