Michael Jeh June 27, 2010

Excited about the World Cup - the cricket one

Anyone brave enough to make any predictions
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England have the potential to become a force in one-day cricket © Getty Images

I've just returned from two weeks in South Africa, haven't been anywhere near a World Cup game, haven't been following any cricket results and yet ... I've got World Cup Fever! Yes, it's the round-ball game I'm talking about but with the little white one made of leather. I'm really looking forward to cricket's World Cup next year. It promises to be a genuinely open contest with just about every major country fancying their chances. At this stage, I'm prepared to go out on a limb and leave West Indies off that list but just about every other team is capable of winning the trophy. And isn't that what the World Cup should be about?

Chatting to the more football-crazy tourists in South Africa, while I was looking after some Australian clients on safari in Kruger National Park, you get the sense that the football World Cup is a genuinely open competition. Just about every team that showed up, barring the obvious long shots, seemed to believe that they could win it, judging by the self-belief of their supporters. Even allowing for obvious jingoistic (patriotic) fervour, their optimism appeared genuine. I suppose football, with tighter scorelines where a single goal could decide a game, is more open to that sort of scenario, whereas cricket will generally need more than one moment of attacking brilliance. It's harder to win a cricket World Cup with tight defense. You need to go out and play positively for 80% of the duration rather than nicking an early advantage and then defending stoutly for the rest of the match.

I can't say I was surprised to hear that England were 2-0 up in the ODI series against Australia. It's not that I think Australia are a poor side - far from it. They're obviously still one of the best teams going around but that's exactly the point - they're now one of the better teams rather than being a clear No 1. Unlike during the last decade or so, when they clearly justified their top ranking at World Cups, this time around they will have every reason to be optimistic (that's just the way Australian cricket teams mentally prepare themselves) but none of the other teams will freeze with fear. A healthy respect all round me thinks.

England are clearly one of the most-improved teams. They seem to have a versatile and athletic unit, not necessarily revolving around any one individual, although Pietersen is still the scalp that will be most treasured. South Africa must surely shrug off their bad luck at major tournaments soon and. with arguably the world's most in-form player in AB De Villiers and wristy players like Hashim Amla to complement their coterie of allrounders, they will feature in the final shake-up.

Naturally, the hosts will be among the favourites to make the last four (Bangladesh excluded). Local support, local conditions and good depth are valuable assets in a long competition. I honestly can't see Bangladesh going all the way but the way they played (in patches) in England suggest that they may cause more than one upset, perhaps doing enough to derail another favourite. It will be interesting to see if Muttiah Muralitharan can be as effective as he once was in these conditions. I get the sense that he is not feared in the same way, although that might yet work in his favour. Harbajhan Singh is bowling well but India will need some good support for him, or teams will just sit on him and target the likes of Pathan, Jadeja or Mishra. India's fielding too will be crucial to their prospects.

New Zealand are always dangerous in World Cups, although they seem to lack the genuine depth of world-class players to go all the way. In subcontinent conditions, though, if Vettori is in top form and with clever use of medium-pacers on 'tired' pitches at the end of the tournament, they pose a credible threat. They bat deep, if not with any world-class pedigree but if it comes down to a scrap, New Zealand will fight to the death.

Pakistan are the big unknown. As always. The pitch conditions should pose no problems for them. It might just come down to whether the team dynamic is going through a smooth phase during that period or if there is yet another upheaval, either in the dressing room or at board level. They have the players to win it but they will need to soon start shedding the "unpredictable, mercurial, hot & cold" sort of reputation. The professional game cannot indulge such excuses, even though that is often what makes them such an alluring side to watch. For Pakistani supporters, I daresay they'd prefer a more predictable and bankable commodity at the expense of the usual roller-coaster ride.

Australia, of course, will probably enter the tournament as joint-favourites and rightly so. Their natural competitiveness and adaptability has always been their World Cup strength, coupled with big-match temperament. They might struggle on the spin-bowling front but Nathan Hauritz has continued to improve and they may yet be able to plug that gap effectively.

The reason I'm prepared to write off West Indies this early is because I don't think they have the depth of all-round talent to go even half the distance. Dwayne Bravo is probably their only genuine allrounder (especially now that Chris Gayle is reluctant to bowl 8-10 overs) and even their wicketkeeper bats too low and poorly when compared to just about every other team. Sure, Gayle might explode and win a game off his own bat but I don't think you can get to the last four on his relaxed shoulders. And their middle order plays spin too poorly.

Ironically enough, with all the exciting young talent coming through, it might still prove to be a World Cup decided by the one of the veterans. The peerless Sachin Tendulkar looms as one of the best bets for highest runs scored, Ricky Ponting is still the Australian wicket most prized and Mahela Jayawardene is probably the danger man for Sri Lanka. Many of the other top batsmen are not young men - Virender Sehwag, Pietersen, Brendon McCullum, Gayle, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Michael Hussey are closer to the end of their careers than the start. For some, it might be their last World Cup. Pakistan's batting talent seems to be in the hands of relatively young men. Umar Akmal and Salman Butt will need to score heavily for them to feature in the final wash-up. England too have a couple of young lions in Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter who may provide a good foil for their older players.

Just as the 'other' World Cup nears its climax, I can't help but feel excited about the cricket version in 2011. It will make these next few months all the more interesting. Instead of watching meaningless ODI's that merge into anonymity, I'll be keeping an eagle eye on the form players and adjusting my predictions accordingly.

Coming through Johannesburg's international airport, there was a real sense of atmosphere in the air. Even when Bafana Bafana were eliminated in the first round, the locals shrugged their shoulders and kept smiling. They played the role of perfect hosts even in the face of disappointment. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India have always been renowned for their warm hospitality but I suspect the similarity will end there. For Sri Lanka and India, especially, exiting in the group stage will be nothing short of a calamity. For Bangladesh, their best bet may well be to play with freedom and gay abandon and see if their fanatical crowds can carry them past nervous opponents. For me, the most fascinating thing will be to see how Australia approach a tournament when they are not clear favourites. It's one thing convincing yourself that you're still the best but it's a lot easier to believe that when you know everyone else thinks that too. I suspect that may not necessarily be the case in 2011- which is what makes the next few months so important in fighting for those little psychological edges.

Anyone brave enough to make any predictions? I can't pick a clear favourite just yet. That's what makes a World Cup!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anonymous on August 8, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    dude pakistan is just a poor team there bats man even harbhajan can bat better than them and yu r saying indian bowling is poor but dude they are no 1 in test matches not pakistan and test match can only be won if 20 wickets are taken and also saeed ajmal is a chucker i dont no why icc is not taking any action

  • Jack on July 12, 2010, 6:39 GMT

    1. Aus (just because they are used to winning this WC's) 2. Eng (Seems to have become a threat recently and winning) 3. Ind (well India, India, India! God will only know what will happend to your players if you don't qualify the 1st round) 4. Pak (Ball biter is actualy taking his players to a new level which we missed since the era of Wasim Akram) 5. NZ (they always end up as semi finalist, maybe luck is going to me on their side this time) 6. SA (they have potential) 7. SL (If their batting can come through, they can do it) 8. BD (if one can look through their looses, they can surely find that they have some hardcore cricketers and can woop anyone's behind like they did to ENG :( recently) 9. WI (Just because they are ranked top 8 *I still think they are digging their own grave) 10. Zim (Slightly edges over IRE because they have way more experience on the sub-con.)

  • Zak on July 7, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    my favorites for semifinal spot are: 1.England 2.Australia/Srilanka* 3.Pakistan 4.India

    * Srilanka can reach semis because Srilanka r playing their WC matches in Srilanka

  • jagadish on July 6, 2010, 18:15 GMT

    if u know a bit about cric..check it out..!! sachin is at the peak of his form n nearing end of his career..d only thing he is yet to achieve is 2 get a world cup..he has almost done it in 2003..bt dis time he wil get it back..!! look at the batting order & reserve bench..d line up starting with sachin..sehwag...gambhir..yuvraj..raina..dhoni..jadeja..harbajan..praveen..zaheer..nehra..!! if any 3 of the top 7 click..dat 2 on sub continent..no 1 can stop dem..!! n coming 2 reserve bench..kohli..rohit..yusuf pathan..pragnan ojha..ishant sharma...!! all r top class performers..!!

    my ratings:: 1.india 2.south africa 3.australia(not consistent dese dayz..bt has best pace attack) 4.england(emerging...depends on kp,morgan.colwd) 5.pakistan(really unpredictable..even may reach finals) 6.srilanka(really good team..who knows dey 2 may..) 7.newzealand(has experience..bt donno..dey r nt up to it0) 8.west indies(least expectationz)

    CHAK DE INDIA

  • craigmnz on July 6, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    As a loyal New Zealander I would point out that currently NZ is 4= with England in the ICC ODI Rankings and only inferior to Aus, SA and India. I'm not sure we can win a World Cup particularly on the subcontinent - but I'd like to think we'll be contesting a semi-final once more. We are lacking in star power but I'd like to think as the author says that we'll go down fighting. Remember NZ is a country with the same population as Sydney - not NSW, Sydney. We should be as bad if not worse than the West Indies - and at test cricket these days there's not much to choose. That we've been fourth in the ODI rankings or thereabouts for some time now is a tribute to some underrated players.

  • David on June 30, 2010, 0:16 GMT

    1. Australia 2. England 3. South Africa 4. India 5. Sri Lanka 6. NZ 7. Pakistan 8. Zimbabwe/bangladesh/WI

  • QK on June 29, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    Well i read all comments above n have to one common conclusion, almost 98 % people think Australia are favourites and 95 % think India is strong on paper and 90% have Pakistan as unpredictable, this makes a point that India, Autralia and Pakistan are certainities for Semis with New-Zealand/England to accompany them.

    Australia India Pakistan England/NewZealand Srilanka South Africa Zimbababwe Bangladesh/West Indies Ireland Some will object to South-Africas rating.

  • muhammad saeed on June 29, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    I can bet on this

    1, Pakistan 2, England 3, South Africa 4, Australia 5, Srilanka 7, New Zealand 8, West Indies 9, Zimbabwe 10, India (the only team lost to zimbabwe twice in the same tournament)

  • Charles Opatha on June 29, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    Cont... 4:) India (Well balanced team and good crowd support, the question is can their big names in the Indian team perform or will the young team come under pressure and loose their confidence.)

    5:) Pakistan (Unpredictable team and team to watch out. To them to succeed in the world cup the players need to support each other and play together.)

    6:) England ( Well can they really turn the tables around win the world cup?? Surely we need to see how well they can perform in Sub-continent pitches with turning and lower bounce.)

    7. New Zealand ( Is a team sightly improving but is hard see them qualifying to the next stage in the world cup. However they got some good players and will need some individual performance to carry them out.)

    8:) West Indies ( need chris gayle to fire if not whole team fails) 9: Bangladesh ( Seriously can't see then qualifying through group stages and winning against top teams.) 10: Zimbabwe ( No chance will win against Irealand maybe Bangladesh) 9: Ireland ??

  • Charles Opatha on June 29, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    As a strong Sri Lankan supporter when i hear cricket world cup i always think of Australia coming on top. This is not hard to imagine because Australia has been the #1 team for a long time in ODI and Test cricket. England is going to be surprise package because they are in good form, but the question is how long can England keep going with their form?? will they win their 1st ever world cup or will they be England that we know by losing and winning in patches.

    Ranking as follows:

    1:) Australia (they will regain their injured players before the world cup and will have balance team.)

    2:) Sri Lanka (the reason i put Sri Lanka #2 because its in home soil, they perform better and does really well in Group stages. However if they do come to finals the question is can they perform given that they have lost 3 finals under Kumar Sangakkara.)

    3:) South Africa (Well all rounded team with strong bowling attack and good middle order and weakness is at the top of the order.)

  • Anonymous on August 8, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    dude pakistan is just a poor team there bats man even harbhajan can bat better than them and yu r saying indian bowling is poor but dude they are no 1 in test matches not pakistan and test match can only be won if 20 wickets are taken and also saeed ajmal is a chucker i dont no why icc is not taking any action

  • Jack on July 12, 2010, 6:39 GMT

    1. Aus (just because they are used to winning this WC's) 2. Eng (Seems to have become a threat recently and winning) 3. Ind (well India, India, India! God will only know what will happend to your players if you don't qualify the 1st round) 4. Pak (Ball biter is actualy taking his players to a new level which we missed since the era of Wasim Akram) 5. NZ (they always end up as semi finalist, maybe luck is going to me on their side this time) 6. SA (they have potential) 7. SL (If their batting can come through, they can do it) 8. BD (if one can look through their looses, they can surely find that they have some hardcore cricketers and can woop anyone's behind like they did to ENG :( recently) 9. WI (Just because they are ranked top 8 *I still think they are digging their own grave) 10. Zim (Slightly edges over IRE because they have way more experience on the sub-con.)

  • Zak on July 7, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    my favorites for semifinal spot are: 1.England 2.Australia/Srilanka* 3.Pakistan 4.India

    * Srilanka can reach semis because Srilanka r playing their WC matches in Srilanka

  • jagadish on July 6, 2010, 18:15 GMT

    if u know a bit about cric..check it out..!! sachin is at the peak of his form n nearing end of his career..d only thing he is yet to achieve is 2 get a world cup..he has almost done it in 2003..bt dis time he wil get it back..!! look at the batting order & reserve bench..d line up starting with sachin..sehwag...gambhir..yuvraj..raina..dhoni..jadeja..harbajan..praveen..zaheer..nehra..!! if any 3 of the top 7 click..dat 2 on sub continent..no 1 can stop dem..!! n coming 2 reserve bench..kohli..rohit..yusuf pathan..pragnan ojha..ishant sharma...!! all r top class performers..!!

    my ratings:: 1.india 2.south africa 3.australia(not consistent dese dayz..bt has best pace attack) 4.england(emerging...depends on kp,morgan.colwd) 5.pakistan(really unpredictable..even may reach finals) 6.srilanka(really good team..who knows dey 2 may..) 7.newzealand(has experience..bt donno..dey r nt up to it0) 8.west indies(least expectationz)

    CHAK DE INDIA

  • craigmnz on July 6, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    As a loyal New Zealander I would point out that currently NZ is 4= with England in the ICC ODI Rankings and only inferior to Aus, SA and India. I'm not sure we can win a World Cup particularly on the subcontinent - but I'd like to think we'll be contesting a semi-final once more. We are lacking in star power but I'd like to think as the author says that we'll go down fighting. Remember NZ is a country with the same population as Sydney - not NSW, Sydney. We should be as bad if not worse than the West Indies - and at test cricket these days there's not much to choose. That we've been fourth in the ODI rankings or thereabouts for some time now is a tribute to some underrated players.

  • David on June 30, 2010, 0:16 GMT

    1. Australia 2. England 3. South Africa 4. India 5. Sri Lanka 6. NZ 7. Pakistan 8. Zimbabwe/bangladesh/WI

  • QK on June 29, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    Well i read all comments above n have to one common conclusion, almost 98 % people think Australia are favourites and 95 % think India is strong on paper and 90% have Pakistan as unpredictable, this makes a point that India, Autralia and Pakistan are certainities for Semis with New-Zealand/England to accompany them.

    Australia India Pakistan England/NewZealand Srilanka South Africa Zimbababwe Bangladesh/West Indies Ireland Some will object to South-Africas rating.

  • muhammad saeed on June 29, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    I can bet on this

    1, Pakistan 2, England 3, South Africa 4, Australia 5, Srilanka 7, New Zealand 8, West Indies 9, Zimbabwe 10, India (the only team lost to zimbabwe twice in the same tournament)

  • Charles Opatha on June 29, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    Cont... 4:) India (Well balanced team and good crowd support, the question is can their big names in the Indian team perform or will the young team come under pressure and loose their confidence.)

    5:) Pakistan (Unpredictable team and team to watch out. To them to succeed in the world cup the players need to support each other and play together.)

    6:) England ( Well can they really turn the tables around win the world cup?? Surely we need to see how well they can perform in Sub-continent pitches with turning and lower bounce.)

    7. New Zealand ( Is a team sightly improving but is hard see them qualifying to the next stage in the world cup. However they got some good players and will need some individual performance to carry them out.)

    8:) West Indies ( need chris gayle to fire if not whole team fails) 9: Bangladesh ( Seriously can't see then qualifying through group stages and winning against top teams.) 10: Zimbabwe ( No chance will win against Irealand maybe Bangladesh) 9: Ireland ??

  • Charles Opatha on June 29, 2010, 8:18 GMT

    As a strong Sri Lankan supporter when i hear cricket world cup i always think of Australia coming on top. This is not hard to imagine because Australia has been the #1 team for a long time in ODI and Test cricket. England is going to be surprise package because they are in good form, but the question is how long can England keep going with their form?? will they win their 1st ever world cup or will they be England that we know by losing and winning in patches.

    Ranking as follows:

    1:) Australia (they will regain their injured players before the world cup and will have balance team.)

    2:) Sri Lanka (the reason i put Sri Lanka #2 because its in home soil, they perform better and does really well in Group stages. However if they do come to finals the question is can they perform given that they have lost 3 finals under Kumar Sangakkara.)

    3:) South Africa (Well all rounded team with strong bowling attack and good middle order and weakness is at the top of the order.)

  • Alex on June 29, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    first readers who are considring any one off these team Australia England South Africa Ireland New Zealand West Indies

    Please look into there past performance in Sub-continent grounds you get your answer there it self ....

    for me real flight for world cup will be between India, Srilanka & Pakistan rest will spin there head around spin friendly wickets

  • M. I. Khan on June 29, 2010, 5:44 GMT

    I think the rank above does not sound like realist. What I could immagine that the Pakistan has an ability to rule out others as they have demonstrated in T20 2009 and won the world cup. Inida as I could see the comments above is best on the papers, however, they are really a different team in field, a team like West Indies or Srilanka could easily spoil their batting line up by introducing bouncers. Below is my rating:

    1. Pakistan 2. England 3. South Africa 4. Srilanka 5. West Indies 6. India 7. Newziland 8. Bangladesh 9. Zimbabwe 10. Ireland

    Best Regards.

  • srini on June 28, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    My favorites: 1) Australia 2) England 3) RSA 4) India 5) SriLanka 6) Pakistan (WI is worthless)

    1)Australians take their cricket seriously than any other cricketing nation and they deliver. I believe they are going to bounce back real hard for the World Cup and are my # 1 pick. 2)Kudos to England the way they have changed their complete outlook towards ODI's . Look at their form(vs RSA, Bangladesh, T20 final, current series vs AUS) and the psychological advantage they would be having going into this world cup. 3)RSA could be in any of the first three spots depending on how and when they choke.But they are less to none with the outfit they have. 4) India, except for their home ground advantage, I am not sure if the likes of Zaheer Khan and Nehra's could cbe consistent with their 10 overs on a given day. They bowled like a charm in the Asia cup final but hope that is not the end of it. As for batting no one has any doubts about their talent but the real ? is if they can fire.

  • Anonymous on June 28, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    I agree with your general argument Michael and I concur - it will be a good world Cup. But I'd like to to address a side issue - Faisal Mashood Afridi's comments about Australia's PERCEIVED constant favouritism - it's not really true, as he says. At the last 3 maybe 4 world cups, it has been South Africa who has been hyped as the side to beat. In 1999, they were on a great streak - Klusener was arguably the world's best player, they batted down to #10, while Australia were the fading old guys - Waugh bros, Tom Moody, Paul Reiffel, all mid 30s. India too were at the height of Tendulkar/Ganguly mania. In 2003, SA were at home and Australia had chinks in their armour - Ponting only new to captaincy, Warne suspended and relying on an unproven slogger (symonds). In 2007, Australia had an awful lead up losing lots of games and experts were falling over themselves to write Australia out of the tournament, yet they didn't get close to losing in the World Cup.

  • bunty on June 28, 2010, 19:38 GMT

    dont put so much of ur minds frnds , its India's Cup, who r saying india's bowling is poor , plz see the highlights of Asia Cup final(thr recent performance), and above all dont forget who is leading indian team..MSD(remember ipl final?),for those who r rating india low they shld not forget world cup is on subcontinental soil whr india's record is massive!!!...lol!

    1.india(apocalyptic batting,spin,sub continental soil,MSD,SACHIN) 2.srilanka(mahela,dilshan,mendis) 3.australia(good record on sub-con) 4.south africa(will reach semi) 5.pakistan(say anything,pakistan can do anything!) 6.england(just b'coz they won few matches recently ppl seeing them raisin WC, dont forget record n past) 7.WI(predictble) 8.Zim 9.Banladesh(those who r thinkin they'll do something this time ,dont fool urselves ,i wonder how can ICC give them TEST cap)

  • binny on June 28, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    COMMON GUYS LOOK AT FACTS,THIS WILL BE THE BOREST WORLD CUP EVER...LOOK AT THE FORMAT.4 TEAMS IN EACH GRP MOVES TO NEXT GRP.THERE ARE JUST 8 GOOD TEAMS IN CRICKET WORLD.SO EVERYBODY KNOWS EVEN IF THEY PLAY BAD CRICKET THEY CAN BEAT MINNOWS AND REACH QF...JUST 1 WEEK OF EXCITIEMENT AND 1 MONTH OF PURE UNCOMPETETIVE CRICKET..KUDOS TO THE BRAIN BEHIND IT..LAST NAIL IN ONE DAY CRICKET

  • Arfan on June 28, 2010, 19:12 GMT

    Pakistan can only perform in this world cup if they drop abdul razzaq and give more matches to fawad alam, drop k.akmal as a keeper perhaps sarfaz ahmed if he improves his battin or zulqerain haider might be a useful prospect. pakistan have their issues but with the assistance of sub continent pitches who knows. Team unity is crucial.

  • Srinivasan K V on June 28, 2010, 18:20 GMT

    Australia might have lost to England in the series but remember that this is the first one day series they have lost and they have not lost anywhere as far as ODIs are concerned (barring losses to England and India in the VB series). They will still go ahead and win in India which is always a batting paradise; like how they won in the champions trophy. I predict Aussies to prevail this world cup as well and I believe that only an unpredictable team like the west indies or pakistan is capable of toppling the aussies from their rightful throne.

  • ddadaadd on June 28, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    my predictions:

    1. pakistan 2. england 3. australia

  • desihungama on June 28, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    India tends to play their best Cricket just a fraction of time before the actual event starts and then fades away into oblivion. That first guy comment - Picking Zimbabwe before Pakistan and Ireland before Bangledesh only confirms what we think about you. I wish India the best of luck but I truely beleive it is Pakistan vs England in the final.

  • Anonymous on June 28, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    it's interesting that Gaurav thinks sri lanka's lower-middle order is weak, after (i assume you are one of) Indian fans saw so much of them recently. Mathews and Kapugedara have especially shone recently. But i do agree that it's still a bit too top heavy, but with Samaraweera back, they have some solidity (Russel Arnold was an unsung hero that really helped Sri lanka get to the finals in 2007) South Africa may finally come through now, they don't choke, they've just been outclassed recently. Australia are ALWAYS in it to win it though. You have to be naive to not think this. And the indian fan who put Pakistan below Zimbabwe either knows something about the ZIM team that we don't or is a walking stereo type of an indan :)

  • Anoop on June 28, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    1.Australia 2.India 3.Sri Lanka 4.South Africa 5.England 6.New Zealand 7.Pakistan 8.West Indies both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh r not capable to win the world cup but i'm sure they'll cause some upsets.

  • SFA on June 28, 2010, 11:52 GMT

    It seems Pakistan and Bangladesh will be the most unpredictable sides. I won't be surprised seeing Pakistan in the semifinals or Bangladesh in the quarterfinals. Bangladesh, despite of their horrible outings at the Asia Cup, seem to be shaping up well as a unit with the present bunch of cricketers, Shakib and Tamim being the icons, as their recent performance against India, NZ and England in tests suggests.

  • Gizza on June 28, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    This World Cup will be different for Australia. They are still up there to win the World Cup but won't be undefeated. Zimbabwe and Ireland have the ability to cause one or two upsets. As always New Zealand are the dark horses (they were finalists in the most recent Champs Trophy).

    South Africa will choke at the semis. India needs Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni to peak at the right time (end). Pakistan and the Windies will struggle due to infighting (just like France in Football).

    Sri Lanka are very formidable at home but need to settle their squad quickly (kick out Jayasuriya or not?). England are the big improvers as their imports gel well with the locals. My predictions: Group A 1. Aus 2. SL 3. NZ 4. Zim/Pak B 1. Eng 2. RSA 3. Ind 4. Ire/WI

    Aus vs Ind = 50-50, SL vs Ire/WI = SL, NZ vs Eng = Eng, RSA vs Z/P = RSA Semis: Aus/Ind vs SL = 50-50 again, Eng vs RSA = Eng Final: Eng to beat Aus/Ind/SL, unless Ind is there & Tendulkar plays a gem in front of his home crowd.

  • Vishal on June 28, 2010, 11:39 GMT

    @cricketloveinn I am not Pakistan hating Indian. I am an Indian for sure and I love my cricket. My all time favourite Bowler is Wasimbhai, my favourite all rounder of all time after Kapil Dev is Imran and my favourite captain of all time is Imran, my favourite commentator is Ramiz Raja and my favourite leg spinner after Warne is Kadir. The reason why I put Paistan at no.9 is that they are currently not playing as a unit. There are many players in the squad who are not playing for the team. Pakistan's most reliable batsman is averaging 23.something bowling attack is full of overrated bowlers like Shoaib, Aamir, Asif...Razak has passed his best. My wicket keeping is better than Pakistan Goal keeper sorry wicket keepers keeping...I am sure WI can beat them 3-2 if they play a 5 match series. As far as Australia goes SA, fully fit NZ, England and India on current form.

  • Vaseem Siddiqi on June 28, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    My ratings are as under:

    1. England 2. Australia 3. Pakistan 4. India 5. South Africa 6. Sri Lanka 7. Newzealand 8. West Indies

    England are playing some really exciting cricket. Recently they have won T20 World Cup, beaten Bangladesh in ODIs and as I write are leading Australia 3-0 in ODI series. The two remaining matches against Australia should confirm their rise in ODI cricket and depth of talent available to England. The ODI series against Pakistan would be interesting as Pakistan look to rebuild and I reckon by the time of World Cup they will have a settled team. Australia will always be one of the favourites and as for India whilst they have excellent batting line up, their bowling and home pressure will go against them.

  • Shamit on June 28, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    My rating on the favourites to win are:

    1. Australia 2. England 3. India 4. South Africa 5. New Zealand 6. Sri Lanka 7. Pakistan 8. West Indies 9. Bangladesh 10. Zimbabwe 11. Ireland

  • Anonymous on June 28, 2010, 10:31 GMT

    Are you guys out of your minds, England can never win the world cup. Remember how they were thrashed 5-0 by India and have a terrible record in Sri Lanka as well. They don't have the spinners that can produce any effect on the sub-continent pitches and batsman. Pakistan and West Indies certainly stand no chance, except all stars in the sky align for them in their crucial matches like Gayle/Afridi storm with the bat.

    Newzeland should never hope they can win any tournament, esp. with the team they have at present,no quality batsman except Taylor in the complete lineup, how do they expect to even compete. Also they have no fixed bowling unit

    Contrary to all this, Australia and India appear to be the two strongest contenders with their terrific record in the sub-continent. India have crushed every visiting country in the ODIs except Australia. So you can't really say that they have a weak bowling unit. I guess that we could see India become the first host country to lift the cup

  • tayyab saeed on June 28, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    I dont think Pakistan should be included in rankings they are so mercurial tat they can end up any where from first to last.

    still i will put 1 Australia 2 South Africa 3 England 4 Shrilanka and Pakistan trying to surprise all of us

  • Upender on June 28, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    This World Cup will definitely be of India's.I have a very strong reason for this.In 1996 WC Sachin was the highest run getter & India reached semis.In the next alternate WC that is in 2003 Sachin was again the highest run getter & India went a step ahead reaching the finals.The next alternate WC will be in 2011 & hopefully Sachin again tops the runs chart & India goes a further ahead & wins the trophy.

  • Shashank on June 28, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    I don't agree with England being the favorites as depicted by the comments posted above. They have won only 1 World Cup and seem to be peaking early. It should be one of the sub-continent teams or Australia. My ratings are: 1) Australia 2) Sri Lanka 3) Pakistan 4) England 5) South Africa 6) India

  • pranjal on June 28, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    I dnt know why india is rated so below, wid d likes of Sachin, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Raina, Dhoni, they form a dangerous batting unit and in the indian conditon d seam trio of nehra, zaheer, praveen nd spinner bhajji seems more then effective. I think d subcontinent teams will play as favourites leaving Bangladesh. Nd hw can ny one rate England so high?? there poor performance in subcontinent restict there chances of winning. my favorites for semifinal spot are: 1-India 2-Srilanka 3-Pakistan 4-Australia from the above mentioned 4 teams , i think any team can win the World Cup

  • andrew henshaw on June 28, 2010, 5:28 GMT

    Michael i agree with you regarding the competitiveness between the top 7 or so countries that was distinctly absent in 2003/2007. However, aren't you overlooking the absolutely absurdity of the draw? 42 games over 30 days to determine who the top eight countries are? I can do that in about 15 seconds! Given the massive gap between the top eight and the rest isnt this a complete waste of time? I think a better format would be 4 groups of 4 teams (a la 2007 world cup), with the top two in each group playing best of the 3 matches to advance. more quality matches with more context.

  • Faisal Mashood Afridi on June 28, 2010, 3:46 GMT

    I seem to remember exactly the same things being said about Australia in the 2007 version of the 50 over World Cup. I consider them favorites for any tournament to do with 50 over cricket. South Africa have been favorites for the 2009 T20 WC, the 2010 version and the Champions Trophy, they haven't come close to winning anything, no one can possibly have any confidence in them. India are a team every one throws around as one of the favorites for ICC events, I have no idea why but they do. India's bowling is very weak, no class acts in there, Harbhajhan Singh seems to be passed off as one but a guy with an average of 32? Not really. They depend on their batting to win matches, maybe if their class batsmen fire for every game they can go all the way. With Pakistan it doesn't matter what happens with the board, the only thing to look at is can they close matches? They have the talent to win but they don't close off matches, NZ in the T20 WC, Aus in T20, SL Asia Cup, India Asia Cup.

  • JW on June 28, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    Predictions?

    England will lose to Germany

  • Deepak on June 28, 2010, 1:37 GMT

    I agree, west indies team has 0% chance to win world cup, don't understand why WI board can't good opening batsman and good wicket keeper batsman.WI wicket keeper never makes run , he should be dropped ASAP. India ,Srilanka are not favorites despite home crowd/ground advantages,both these teams are no capable of playing good in finals/semi finals. Favorite to win my ratings are as under: 1) England 2) South Africa 3) Australia 4) Srilanka 5) Pakistan 6) India 7) Zimbabwe 8)West Indies

  • CricketLovinnn on June 27, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    @vishal[ Pakistan at number 9? I'm guessing you're one of those Anti-Pakistani Indians? No offence to the rest of the Indians but i don't see why Australia is at 5,SOUTH AFRICA is AHEAD of them at 4 when they are very well known to be 'chokers' and unlikely to be finalists of any major competitions ( would love to see them prove me wrong though ). The fact that Australia has been the more dominant team in the past decade or so doesn't give you a clue that maybe,just maybe,they should be AHEAD and more likely as favourites compared to South Africa?

  • Ibrahim on June 27, 2010, 22:01 GMT

    1-South Africa--genuinely classy outfit on any surface, they just have to try not to choke & play with freedom 2-Australia--sure they're in a slight rut, but always bring their A game & will be eager to extend their long world cup winning streak 3-Sri Lanka--home soil, & the lankans always get out of bed early for a big contest. genuine matchwinners with bat and ball, also finding some depth with the newer players 4-Pakistan--genuinely classy bowlers, and it's not beyond their batsmen to step up on home soil. Regarding how clinically they defend totals evenn to the 5 or so closing overs, it'll take butterfly-guts and slippery hands to let this one slip 5-England--finally enjoying their one-day game with positive intent. a world-class spin outfit and decent seamers, along with a diverse (in more ways than one) lineup 6-India--massively overrated, but a stout lineup. their bowling remains a concern, but Nehra/Zaheer/Praveen can hold their own while the spinners are OK

  • Armaan on June 27, 2010, 19:35 GMT

    That rating's just wrong. IMO it'll be more like -

    1) South Africa 2) England 3) India 4) Australia 5) Sri Lanka 6) New Zealand 7) Pakistan 8) West Indies 9) Zimbabwe 10)Bangladesh 11)Ireland

  • Sushant Singh on June 27, 2010, 19:12 GMT

    1. Australia 2. Pakistan 3. England 4. South Africa 5. Sri Lanka 6. New Zealand 7. West Indies. 8. India

  • turab on June 27, 2010, 17:57 GMT

    rating pakistan below west indies and zimbabwe clearly shows your hatred towards pakistan. don't let ur hatred towards pakistan affect your ratings man.

  • Sham on June 27, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    My Favorite are as follows: 1 India 2 Sri lanka 3 England 4 Pakistan 5 Australia 6 South Africa 7 New Zealand 8 Bangladesh 9 West Indies 10 Zimbabwe

  • Lagrocken on June 27, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    Australia will still do it...

  • acewings on June 27, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    @vishal: dude, have you been on mars for the last 5 years?

  • omar cheema on June 27, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    @vishal

    why not india at 1 and pakistan at 11? typically biased indian fan.

    having said that i feel this is going to be india's world cup. india's weakest link is their extremely sub standanrd bowling attack. that weakness will be nullified because south asia has flat pitches where batsmen will rule the roost and india has possibly the best ODI batting attack especially if the portly yuvraj singh rediscovers his spark and sehwag doesnt get injured.

  • Gaurav on June 27, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    continued...

    8) England: The most-improved team and a strong contender. However, to label them as THE first favourites (@vishal) is unrealistic. Highly versatile team with multiple all-rounders: Kieswetter(wk-batsman), Broad, Swann, Yardy, Bresnan, Wright, Collingwood etc. Much will depend however on the batting duo of Pietersen and Morgan. If the two click, England could go all the way. A suspicion that England is playing one all-rounder too many esp since Yardy, Bresnan and Wright are bits-and-pieces cricketers. Nevertheless, certain semifinalists. 9) Bangladesh: Have very good spin stocks but lack a pace attack. Batting is too dependent on Tamim and Shakib. Can cause an upset or two. 10) Zimbabwe: Except this team to do better than what people expect. On the slow pitches, they have a huge no. of spin options and a good opening pair of Taylor and Masazadska. Lack of experience will probably doom them to an early exit.

  • Gaurav on June 27, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    1) South Africa - strong team, but perennial chokers and under-achievers. 2) Australia - Shaky middle order, absence of a dangerous spinner. Still deserve to be among the favourites if their pace attack gets together: Tait, Johnson, Bollinger, Harris, etc. 3) India - Atrocious fielding and bowling. Strong though slightly shaky middle order. Can be contenders if Sachin and co fire. 4) Sri Lanka - Weak lower middle order, reduced effectiveness of Murali and insufficient pace back-up. Still remain one of the favourites. 5) Pakistan - Strong pace and spin attack, very weak top and middle order. Much will depend on the all-rounders: Afridi, Malik and Razzaq. Highly unpredictable. 6) New Zealand - Shaky middle order, excellent lower order. Lack of pace options. Too much rests on Vettori. Semifinalists at best. 7) West Indies - Too dependent on Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul. Have bowlers of high speed but little accuracy. Much depends on Gayle and their spin options. Not much chance for them

  • wanderer on June 27, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    The Indians will get bounced out of yet another International Tournament, unless they deliberately play rank turners (which they're prone to do under home conditions). They'll then sulk for a while before proclaiming themselves the best in the world because some Indian team has won the IPL, and then pretend that the ODI World Cup doesn't matter.

    I think the Sri Lankan's will take this one. Though Australia won't be too far behind, (their players are used to playing in the sub-continent thanks to the IPL, thankyou Lalit for once again helping other nations). The sub-continent holds no more uncertainties for outside teams.

  • Cricket2009 on June 27, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Lol at above!!!!

    New Zealand at number 2!!! Pakistan below Zimbabwe?????

    You need to start Watching Cricket man..

    I'd say these teams should be ranked like this:

    1) Australia (they are still a force) 2) India 3) Srilanka 4) England 5) South Africa (choker's tag puts them here) 6) Pakistan (You never know) 7) New Zealand 8) West Indies 9) Bangladesh (depends on Tamim) 10) Zimbabwe

  • Kane on June 27, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    I don't know why cricinfo publishes these kind of articles...Just states the obvious facts without any insights. It's like "I wake up in the morning...brush my teeth...have breakfast..then go to office...then do some work...have lunch...again work..may be some tea in the evening..then come back home...have dinner..sleep..good night!" Anything interesting?? Anything different views...??

  • Imran on June 27, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    England are the favourites definitely along with southafrica.But i want Newzealand to win.

  • Vidyendaran on June 27, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    India always on paper appear to be favorites but on field they tend to wilt away. Perhaps with some luck, they may make it to the last 4. The other predictions for the semifinals, the way i see it are - Srilanka, Australia and South Africa. I might not be surprised if Sri Lanka lift this one again.

  • Annony on June 27, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    @Vishal- Zimbabwe higher than Pak. Ireland higher than Bangla. India at 3 above austrailia. You are one biased indian

  • vishal on June 27, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Favourite to win my ratings are as under: 1) England 2) New Zealand 3) India 4) South Africa 5) Australia 6) Sri lanka 7) West Indies 8) Zimbabwe 9) Pakistan 10) Ireand 11) Bangladesh

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  • vishal on June 27, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Favourite to win my ratings are as under: 1) England 2) New Zealand 3) India 4) South Africa 5) Australia 6) Sri lanka 7) West Indies 8) Zimbabwe 9) Pakistan 10) Ireand 11) Bangladesh

  • Annony on June 27, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    @Vishal- Zimbabwe higher than Pak. Ireland higher than Bangla. India at 3 above austrailia. You are one biased indian

  • Vidyendaran on June 27, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    India always on paper appear to be favorites but on field they tend to wilt away. Perhaps with some luck, they may make it to the last 4. The other predictions for the semifinals, the way i see it are - Srilanka, Australia and South Africa. I might not be surprised if Sri Lanka lift this one again.

  • Imran on June 27, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    England are the favourites definitely along with southafrica.But i want Newzealand to win.

  • Kane on June 27, 2010, 16:31 GMT

    I don't know why cricinfo publishes these kind of articles...Just states the obvious facts without any insights. It's like "I wake up in the morning...brush my teeth...have breakfast..then go to office...then do some work...have lunch...again work..may be some tea in the evening..then come back home...have dinner..sleep..good night!" Anything interesting?? Anything different views...??

  • Cricket2009 on June 27, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Lol at above!!!!

    New Zealand at number 2!!! Pakistan below Zimbabwe?????

    You need to start Watching Cricket man..

    I'd say these teams should be ranked like this:

    1) Australia (they are still a force) 2) India 3) Srilanka 4) England 5) South Africa (choker's tag puts them here) 6) Pakistan (You never know) 7) New Zealand 8) West Indies 9) Bangladesh (depends on Tamim) 10) Zimbabwe

  • wanderer on June 27, 2010, 17:02 GMT

    The Indians will get bounced out of yet another International Tournament, unless they deliberately play rank turners (which they're prone to do under home conditions). They'll then sulk for a while before proclaiming themselves the best in the world because some Indian team has won the IPL, and then pretend that the ODI World Cup doesn't matter.

    I think the Sri Lankan's will take this one. Though Australia won't be too far behind, (their players are used to playing in the sub-continent thanks to the IPL, thankyou Lalit for once again helping other nations). The sub-continent holds no more uncertainties for outside teams.

  • Gaurav on June 27, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    1) South Africa - strong team, but perennial chokers and under-achievers. 2) Australia - Shaky middle order, absence of a dangerous spinner. Still deserve to be among the favourites if their pace attack gets together: Tait, Johnson, Bollinger, Harris, etc. 3) India - Atrocious fielding and bowling. Strong though slightly shaky middle order. Can be contenders if Sachin and co fire. 4) Sri Lanka - Weak lower middle order, reduced effectiveness of Murali and insufficient pace back-up. Still remain one of the favourites. 5) Pakistan - Strong pace and spin attack, very weak top and middle order. Much will depend on the all-rounders: Afridi, Malik and Razzaq. Highly unpredictable. 6) New Zealand - Shaky middle order, excellent lower order. Lack of pace options. Too much rests on Vettori. Semifinalists at best. 7) West Indies - Too dependent on Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul. Have bowlers of high speed but little accuracy. Much depends on Gayle and their spin options. Not much chance for them

  • Gaurav on June 27, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    continued...

    8) England: The most-improved team and a strong contender. However, to label them as THE first favourites (@vishal) is unrealistic. Highly versatile team with multiple all-rounders: Kieswetter(wk-batsman), Broad, Swann, Yardy, Bresnan, Wright, Collingwood etc. Much will depend however on the batting duo of Pietersen and Morgan. If the two click, England could go all the way. A suspicion that England is playing one all-rounder too many esp since Yardy, Bresnan and Wright are bits-and-pieces cricketers. Nevertheless, certain semifinalists. 9) Bangladesh: Have very good spin stocks but lack a pace attack. Batting is too dependent on Tamim and Shakib. Can cause an upset or two. 10) Zimbabwe: Except this team to do better than what people expect. On the slow pitches, they have a huge no. of spin options and a good opening pair of Taylor and Masazadska. Lack of experience will probably doom them to an early exit.

  • omar cheema on June 27, 2010, 17:36 GMT

    @vishal

    why not india at 1 and pakistan at 11? typically biased indian fan.

    having said that i feel this is going to be india's world cup. india's weakest link is their extremely sub standanrd bowling attack. that weakness will be nullified because south asia has flat pitches where batsmen will rule the roost and india has possibly the best ODI batting attack especially if the portly yuvraj singh rediscovers his spark and sehwag doesnt get injured.