It’s a World Cup, and England are involved. No, this isn’t a lovely dream about the joys of last summer, but a look forward to the excitement coming in this one.
The Cricket World Cup is here to bring a tremendous amount of colour and big hitting to the country for the next six weeks, and white ball punters are about to be in absolute heaven with nearly a game a day for more than a month. Please do read the tips of Ryan Sidebottom, who is leading the coverage for Star this evening.
Winner: It’s understandable – and exciting for most reading this – that England are favourites, and they deserve to be given that they’ve won 28 of their 36 matches since their Champions Trophy semi-final defeat to Pakistan, and 15 of their last 16 at home. However, they’ve never made it to the semis of a World Cup and are now just 2/1 to take the trophy, a price which feels short given the sometimes extremely tight margins that decide World Cups. Their battling will give them a favourite’s chance but India went off even money to win the ODI series last summer and ended up losing just 2-1, and they are one of the few teams that can match England even in these conditions on paper. They were unlucky to lose the test series by such a margin and Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dawan are a fearsome top three whilst Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami have a lot of recent experience in England and that six gives India a puncher’s chance. On neutral ground, they can reverse their defeat to Australia in their recent ODI series and they make marginally the most appeal in what’s sure to be an extremely well contested tournament.
Advice: 3 pts India (10/3 general)
Top Batsman: One statistic just jumps out when looking at this market – Four of the last five World Cup top runscorers have been openers. One simply has to get one onside and there’s a number of strong contenders. Jonny Bairstow averages 58 on home soil over the past two years and is in an England side which is favourite to take the whole tournament. Australia have improved greatly over the past six months and Aaron Finch’s average of 52 is second only to Rohit Sharma in the last two years since the Champions Trophy. Scores of 116, 153 not out and 90 in the first three ODIs against Pakistan in the UAE show his quality and his experience in English conditions should prove to be useful.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Johnny Bairstow (10/1 Boylesports*, 11/1 general), 1 pt each/way Aaron Finch (18/1 Boylesports, 22/1 Ladbrokes, Betfair, Paddy Power)
Top Bowler: In four of the last for the five editions a left arm bowler has taken the honors, a remarkable stat. the only team in recent editions to have won it without one is the Australia side of 1999, one which contained Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. So having at least one left armer looks best and Trent Boult makes immediate appeal. He shared the top honors with Mitchell Starc in 2015 and in the last two years, he has 60 wickets in ODI’s. New Zealand will hope to reach the semis and if they do, that could give him enough of a shot to take enough wickets here, certainly enough to make him value as the favorite at 14/1.
On the pure figures, the most effective ODI bowler in the world this year is Pat Cummins. Mercurial, if not fragile, the seamer has 17 wickets in just six matches this calendar year, going at a staggeringly impressive 4.39 while averaging 14.29, and he took seven wickets in two warm-up games against New Zealand. 18/1 with Bet365 and Betway is excellent value if he stays fit through the tournament.
There are a number of fascinating spin options – Kuldeep Yadav, Rashid, Adil Rashid and Yuz Chahal are the top four wicket takers in the world over the past 24 months – but one must weigh up their talent and consistency against the conditions and record of spinners in England. They’ve taken less than 30% of ODI wickets to fall in England and only 3 of the top 15 wicket takers over the last five tournaments have been spinners.
If there is one contender who makes enough appeal to break that run, then Kuldeep – who averages 2 wickets a game – took six wickets in the first ODI between India and the Three Lions last year and ended 2018 with 45 ODI wickets.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Trent Boult (14/1 general), 1 pt each/way Pat Cummins (18/1 Bet365, Betway), 1 pt each/way Kuldeep Yadav (25/1 general)
Player Of The Tournament: Shikar Dhawan has already won a POTT in England – when he was top runscorer in the Champions Trophy, and in 2017 he was also the top runscorer too despite India not winning. If the market is correct India will contend for the title and he can play a big part in that.
An all-rounder is obviously going to have some appeal here and whilst Ben Stokes needs to catch some fire here, Stokes is a fearsome bowler and huge hitter who also excels in the field when on top of his game and at some point you’d imagine he’ll play a big part if England are to go far.
Quinton De Kock averages 49 in the game over the last 2 years and if South Africa are to make it to the semis, then he will need to come to the fore. Hashim Amla can go well too but he’s not been I the same touch as his age had advanced and if South Africa are to back up their talent with the ball then he’ll need to do it.
We don’t have Pakistan onside but it would be foolhardy to not get them in the book somehow and Hasan Ali makes appeal. Two of the last three Champions have been bowlers and Ali took the player of the tournament award two years ago with 13 wickets. If Pakistan outperform their odds then the 50/1 could look big at the time of the semi-finals.
Advice: 1 pt Shikar Dhawan (18/1 Betfair), 1 pt each/way Ben Stokes (20/1 general), 1 pt Quinton De Kock (18/1 Betfair) 1 pt Hasan Ali (50/1 Betfair)
Team Bets & Specials
Bangladesh: The change of format to a ten-team group is a serious blow in their bid to reach a semi-final for the first time but they ought not to be underestimated. You won’t die wondering if Tamim Iqbal wanted to be top scorer.
Advice: 1 pt Tamin Iqbal Top Batsman (9/4 BetVictor)
Pakistan: Are stacked with batting talent but Babar Azam, who averaged 55.40 in three games against England, might be the best of them. He scored 100 against Afghanistan in the warm up and looks in the right touch to make a quick start in the competition. He looks to be the right favourite in the top batsman market.
Advice: 2 pts Babar Azam Top Batsman (9/4 general)
West Indies: The Windies will certainly be a lot of fun to watch through the tournament with not only bat but ball, and Kemar Roach, who impressed so much against England earlier, could be best with the ball. His quality is clear for all to see and he could be a big threat in overcast conditions when the ball moves early.
Advice: 1 pt win Kemar Roach Top Bowler (10/3 general)
New Zealand: We don’t have Martin Guptill onside in a normal market but now we can get him in the book and the 2015 top runscorer makes a lot of appeal at 7/2 to top the charts for New Zealand. He earned that accolade thanks to a score of 237 against the West Indies but will hopefully have a chance to knock up the same in eight or so games, and with three centuries in 10 ODI’s this year.
Advice: 3 pts Martin Guptill Top Batsman (7/2 general)
Winner/Top Tournament Batsman: A chance to double up England with some creative options. This is a good way to have Joe Root onside and also Jason Roy too. New Zealand and Martin Guptill also makes appeal the prices, alongside Australia and Steve Smith (we need one non opener.)
Advice: 1 pt win England/Joe Root (25/1 Boylesports), 1 pt England/Jason Roy (28/1 Boylesports), 1 pt New Zealand/Martin Guptill (150/1 Boylesports), 1 pt Australia/Steve Smith (66/1 Boylesports)