Ok it’s here! The World Cup has arrived! From 16th March to 6th April!!
Wait… hold on, calm down, this is not THE big football World Cup of the summer, it is the cricket T20 version. This is the 5th ICC tournament in the 20 over version of the game and is being held in Bangladesh. England cricket fans will know we won this 4 years ago and we probably have more hope of bringing home this trophy than the big one from Brazil – there are no penalty shoot outs here (just super overs!)
T20 cricket is not one for the purists, but more of a slog and run dash as you have 120 balls to score as many as you can by any means possible. Designed to bring more kids into the game it has caught on and become very popular in the West Indies and India, with the IPL it is also popular in England with bored football fans over the summer on a Friday night often due to cheap drink promotions.
The World cup itself is split into 2 sections and the Super 10 (or business end of the competition) begins this Friday (21st March) and is 2 groups of 5 with the top 2 in each group heading to the semi final stage. India playing Pakistan who start things off on Friday along with England and the other 5 main test nations (Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand & West Indies) have already qualified for this stage. There are 2 spots left to join those 8 in the Super 10 group and as you may have seen the qualifying group stage is currently being played this week in what seems more like an X factor aside this includes plucky underdogs Ireland, troubled Zimbabwe the hosts Bangladesh and sob story Afghanistan vying for the right for a game against the big guns.
Here is a brief rundown of the participating countries to give you a guide if your thinking of tuning in for a spot of cricket or putting some money down over the coming month!
SUPER 10 GROUP 1
Sri Lanka (to win tournament 5/1)
T20 History- Runners Up (2009,2012) Semi-Finals (2010) Super 8 (2007)
Chances- Perennial losers on the world stage, (losing 4 knockout finals out of 4 including ODI world cups) , they have a good solid squad and are always tough to beat- look more than capable of getting out of the group– but whilst they are long overdue a tournament win a losing culture in big matches can be hard to shake Fun Fact - Hold the T20 record for most runs in a match scoring 260 v Kenya (13 an over!)
Key Player- Lasith Malinga (bowler) – his bowling action has to be seen to be believed
England (to win tournament 14/1)
T20 History- Winners (2010), Super 8 (2007,2009,2012)
Chances- Apart from our surprise win in 2010 we have failed to perform at this competition, our dismal ashes showing has meant low expectations and interest the usual Kevin Pieterson controversy aside (as per our national habit of alienating and dropping our best players before major competitions) Poor warm up performances aside if we get out of the group we could yet go all the way. But we lost to Holland in 2009 and often struggle on the subcontinent Fun Fact - A third of our 15 man squad is born outside the UK, or another way we take Ireland’s best players and call up those not good enough for South Africa and New Zealand
Key Player - James Tredwell (bowler) – with no KP will need him to help keep run rate down
South Africa (to win tournament 7/1)
T20 History- Semi Finals (2009), Super 8 (2007,2010,2012)
Chances- The world’s number one test team, but that does not always mean a lot in terms of the T20 format based on this and their strong batting ability they are dark horses for the tournament although they may struggle with their bowling as mainly rely on a pace attack not ideal on the subcontinent more suited to spinners Fun Fact - Their cricketing nickname Proteas means… flowering plants?!
Key Player - Quinten De Kock (Wicketkeeper) – unfortunate name, but a useful big hitting batsman
New Zealand (to win tournament 9/1)
T20 History-Semi Finals (2007), Super 8 (2009,2010,2012)
Chances- You can never write off the blackcaps in any shortened format of the game, they are good to watch and have some giant boundary hitting batsmen, if they hit the ground running and get out of the group they could quite easily walk away with the trophy (look at West Indies last time around) Fun Fact - Went 40 years without a test series victory between 1929 – 1969 (40 years of hurt)
Key Player - Corey Anderson (batsmen) great to watch & world’s fastest T20 century (100 off 36 balls)
They will be joined by one of the 4 teams from Group A of the group stage below:
Zimbabwe – Group Stage (2007,2010,2012) 500/1 to win tournament.
Although a full test playing nation Zimbabwe have constantly struggled in world terms- they are seeded to qualify for the Super 10 but have never won a world cup T20 match – they should break their duck this year against the UAE but an opening day defeat to Ireland looks to have already eliminated them.
Ireland - Super 8 (2009), Group Stage (2010,2012) 150/1 to win tournament
Quite why the Irish don’t have test playing status is absurd given they regularly over perform at these tournaments and with some notable wins and some great performances in both this and the ODI world cups. Expect them to make the super 10 and possibly cause an upset (vs England?!)
Holland – Group Stage (2009) 1000/1 to win tournament Holland famously beat England in 2009 but without their star batsman Ryan Ten they will be hard pushed to get the chance to repeat history. They should feel at home in Bangladesh as another country beneath sea level prone to flooding. Will beat UAE, may shock Zimbabwe, won’t beat Ireland.
United Arab Emirates - Debut (2014) 5000/1 to win Tournament
The UAE's only previous major tournament was the 1996 World Cup. In their opening game against South Africa, UAE captain Sultan Zarawani walked out to face fearsome pace bowler Allan Donald in a sunhat rather than a helmet. He was hit on the head first ball. Let’s hope they have improved since then – if you have the float lay them every match
SUPER 10 GROUP 2
West Indies (to win tournament 7/1)
T20 History-Winners (2012), Semi Finals (2009), Super 8 (2010), Group Stage (2007)
Squad/chances- Ok so they are defending champions, but West Indies are so unpredictable that I have no idea how they will perform here. They were largely unfancied in 2012 this is a tough group, especially with hosts Bangledesh to add to it but have triumphed on the sub continent once and they have Chris Gayle who can out score teams on his own with the bat Fun Fact - A west indies select XI beat England by 10 wickets in a $20Million T20 match in 2008
Key Player - Chris Gayle – (batsman) Hits the ball further than anyone I’ve seen
India (to win Tournament) 4/1
T20 History – Winners (2007), Super 8 (2009, 2010, 2012)
Squad/chances- Let’s face it this is virtually a home tournament for India, who will be well supported, at home on the pitches and even without “god” / Tendulkar who retired last year this should be their tournament. Most of their team play in the Indian Premier League too so will be used to tournament T20. Why won’t they win? The burden of expectation? Fun Fact - In the 2007 T20 world cup young English bowler Stuart Broad saw all 6 balls hit for 6 by Indian Yuvraj Singh in one over. Singh is in this squad and the IPL’s most expensive player
Key Player - Mahendra Dhoni (Captain) – will need to keep egos in check and manage the team well
Pakistan (to win Tournament 7/1)
T20 History – Winners (2009), Runners up (2007) Semi Finals (2010, 2012)
Squad/chances- Pakistan love this tournament and have made the last 4 every year they will most likely need to finish above India or Australia to continue this run, they are more than capable of doing this or losing to Bangledesh and the West Indies! Whilst it is close to home for them they are wildly unpredictable in all forms of the game
Fun Fact - You can guarantee a scandal for Pakistan, remember the spot betting one? Walking out off of an England test match? The Death of their coach at the 2007 world cup? List goes on
Key Player - Kamran Akmal (Wicketkeeper)– Recent problems behind the stumps have led to Akmal’s recall
Australia (To win tournament 3/1)
T20 History – Runners up (2010) Semi Finals (2007, 2012) Super 8 (2009)
Squad/chances- The only ICC trophy not in the cabinet for Australia, they are widely tipped to change that at this tournament since their near Lazarus return from the cricketing wilderness under new coach Darren Lehmann and destruction of England in the Ashes. However they still have a young team and they also do not have a wide choice of spin bowling options. Fun Fact - Did I mention the Aussies haven’t won the T20 yet although England have!?
Key Player - Aaron Finch (Batsmen) World best T20 innings 156 from 63 balls, 14 sixes.
They will be joined by one of the 4 teams from Group B of the group stage below
Bangladesh – Super 8 (2007)Group Stage (2010,2012) 50/1 to win tournament
In a poverty stricken country that suffers plenty of natural disasters it’s great to see them hosting this world cup in their national sport of Cricket. Unfortunately they have no hope of winning it. They should negotiate their qualifying group to keep local interest going (as long as they beat Afghanistan) then will hope for a morale boosting win against one of the big guns in the next round to give the next generation of Bangladeshis something to aspire to
Afghanistan - Group Stage (2010,2012) 1500/1 to win tournament
Wonderful story about them qualifying after the war there in 2010, and they are certainly an improving team in world cricketing terms, this tournament comes too soon for them, they won’t beat Bangladesh on their home soil, and they won’t qualify for the Super 10
Nepal – Debut (2014) 2500/1 to win tournament
I personally did not know Nepal had a cricket team. But they are an ex British colony like every other nation here apart from (Holland & UAE) so it is no real surprise. They will be delighted to have qualified and they also hold a T20 world record once bowling out Myanmar for 10 runs. They will be focused on beating Hong Kong, which will be their world cup final
Hong Kong - Debut (2014) 5000/1 to win Tournament
Another ex British dependency and another debut at the tournament they scraped through qualifying knocking out Papua New Guinea and Scotland on route. Likely to be humiliated against the Afghans and Bangladesh – they do however have 23 year old Warwickshire wicketkeeper Jamie Atkinson captaining them here and what an experience for the young man.
Well that concludes a team by team breakdown – I’ll be keeping my eye out for any T20 world cup offers and post them here once the main action begins with the start of the super 10’s on Friday
If placing bets on this event we suggest you use either Betfair where the odds are usually the highest available and it is possible to trade your positions as the tournament goes on, or BoyleSports where if India win the competition all losing outright bets placed before Friday 21st are refunded.