Cricket fans rejoice – the World Cup is here.
After months of selection speculation and qualifying drama, ten of the world’s top cricketing nations head to England for the right to call themselves champions on the final day at Lord’s.
Ladbrokes has a host of markets available on every team and every player, so be sure to read on below for our entire 2019 Cricket World Cup Preview. We’ll also be offering daily tips for each game here.
England mean business this year and judging by their recent One Day results, it’s certainly hard to disagree. Trevor Bayliss’ side put up well over 300 runs in all four of their ODI wins over Pakistan this month, and with a current run rate of 6.29, England opens as the favourites to end their World Cup drought.
Runners up in 1979, 1987 and 1992, anything short of a spot in the final will be deemed an epic failure this year. England has been prepping for this tournament for the better part of five years, and with captain Joe Root in the side – the eighth-best ODI batsmen according to Cricinfo – you can expect the same kind of high-risk approach from a team well known for slugging fours and sixes in a hurry.
Home-field advantage should also play a large part in England’s success. Since 2016, England has played 37 ODI’s at home and lost only four. Vice-captain and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will also play a key part in the middle order averaging just shy of 42 runs at ODI level. On the bowling side, 24-year-old sensation Jofra Archer remains a handy sleeper pick as the team’s top wicket-taker.
Best Bet: Jofra Archer Top English Wicket Taker @ $4.50
The 2015 Semi-Finalists return with a much-improved bowling attack capable of rivalling the favourites.
Just like in years past, India will rely heavily on the world’s best batsmen Virat Kohli to carry most of the workload at the crease. The world No. 1 is supported by world No. 2 Rohit Sharma, who is currently averaging 47.29 runs when facing the white ball.
Sharma terrorised Australia during a series of ODI matches back in January, notching a century in Sydney and a handy 43 in Adelaide. Kohli’s reputation speaks for itself, but India should also benefit from a versatile seam and spin attack with the ball in hand.
Medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has taken 19 wickets in 10 ODI matches this year, will play an integral part, as well as the ever-reliable Jasprit Bumrah, who will play his 50th ODI match in India’s opener against South Africa.
The two-time champs look just as complete as England this year, leaving these odds looking a little over.
Best Bet: Virat Kohli Top Indian Runscorer @ $2.00
There’s plenty of unknown about this Australian side.
Captain Aaron Finch is one of the best when he’s on top of his game, but the fact he combined for just 26 runs in three matches against India back in January remains a concern.
The good news is Finch has found some form posting back-to-back centuries against Pakistan in March. Of course, the 32-year-old will be helped out by Glenn Maxwell and the returning Steve Smith, both of which have over 200 matches over ODI experience between them.
Maxwell could hold the key for the Aussies in the middle order, and he will be relied upon to gain runs in a hurry. Smith has shown strong signs in exhibition matches this month, while the jury is still out on David Warner.
Pat Cummins heads the bowling attack after Justin Langer’s decision to rest him against India. Cummins has been untouchable over the last 12 months allowing just 4.36 runs per over to go along with 17 wickets in five ODI matches, but if he fails to receive any kind of support from Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa – both of which have struggled with the white ball recently – the Aussies could be in for an early exit.
Best Bet: Pat Cummins Top Australian Wicket Taker @ $3.00
A popular dark horse pick to win their first ever World Cup, New Zealand will be hoping to reach the final after finishing runner-up in 2015 behind Australia.
On paper, the Kiwis have the firepower to cause a few upsets, and it starts with the bowling attack. Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson make up a lethal lineup of spin and pace, all of which should relish the fast conditions in England.
On the other side, captain Kane Williamson is more than capable of carrying the team on his back. With over 100 matches of ODI experience, Williamson headlines a deep attack alongside Martin Guptill, who’s currently averaging just shy of 44 runs.
This is a “prove-it” kind of year for the Black Caps as they boast perhaps their most promising XI ever. New Zealand faces Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan first-up, so with an easy strength of schedule to start out, look for the Kiwis’ explosive batting lineup to put some runs on the board early.
The Proteas will be hoping experience can guide them through this year’s World Cup, although it hasn’t helped in the past.
South Africa have never made it to the Final since first appearing in 1992, but with seven players returning from the 2015 squad, you could argue these odds look a little too wide.
Captain Faf du Plessis will be hoping to make up for the 2015 Semi-Finals loss to New Zealand with a much-improved bowling attack. Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada have taken over 300 ODI wickets between them, and there’s plenty of optimism about 23-year-old youngster Lungi Ngidi.
Unfortunately, all three have struggled with injuries in the leadup to Thursday’s opener against England. Quinton de Kock, who has scored 14 ODI centuries at age 26, figures as one of the players to watch this year. Even so, South Africa look primed for another Semi-Final berth and maybe, not much more.
Bet Bet: Kasigo Rabada Top South African Wicket Taker @ $3.75
Pakistan is in the enviable position of having already played five ODI matches in England ahead of their opener on Friday.
Despite losing the series, the visitors still held their own compiling 300-plus runs in three of the five matches. Pakistan fans were left a little shocked when fast-bowler Mohammad Amir was left out of the original side, but the 27-year-old has made a quick return to feature in the XI.
Most of Pakistan’s hopes rely squarely on the top order. Babar Azam is currently the seventh-ranked ODI batsman in the world, while Fakhar Zaman is averaging over 50 runs when facing the white ball.
Imam-ul-Haq is perhaps the most important Pakistani player this year. He caused havoc last fortnight scoring 151 against England and should contribute to his team’s underdog status.
The loss of Usman Khan Shinwari will hurt the bowling, but we’ve seen Pakistan rally when the chips are down before. You can’t call them a sleeper, but this is still a tough side that will take some beating.
Best Bet: Fakhar Zaman Top Pakistani Run Scorer @ $4.00
It’s been a while between drinks since the Windies last enjoyed success at the World Cup, but they’ll still be hungry to improve 2015’s Quarter-Final result.
Chris Gayle returns for one last run at age 39, stating earlier this year that the World Cup will be his last appearance at ODI level. The superstar lefty has played 30 matches in England averaging 39 runs to go along with his 25 career ODI hundreds.
Further down the ranks, Andre Russell will play a key part if the Windies are to rewind the clock back to their 1990’s glory days. Unfortunately, the bowling attack looks sub-par this year in both pace and spin. Ashley Nurse has exactly 50 matches of ODI experience under his belt, but the fact he’s taken only 49 wickets leaves the West Indies looking a little vulnerable in terms of depth.
Best Bet: Kemar Roach Top West Indies Wicket Taker @ $4.50
Don’t let the odds fool you, Bangladesh could still cause a few upsets in the early stages.
Ranked No. 7 ahead of the West Indies, Bangladesh will be hoping to return to the Quarter-Finals with a returning squad of eight players from the 2015 World Cup.
We should learn a lot about Steve Rhodes’ side in their opening match against an injury-depleted South Africa. If nothing else, lefty Mustafizur Rahman should be fun to watch against some of the world’s top batsman – plenty of which have fallen victim to his medium-pace delivery. Bangladesh always receives plenty of crowd support at One Dayers, and after spending much of their time training in Europe for the English conditions, they should at the very least be competitive.
Best Bet: Mustafizur Rahman Top West Indies Wicket Taker @ $3.25
If there’s one team likely to struggle with the English conditions it’s Sri Lanka.
So far this year Chandika Hathurusingha’s side have won only one ODI against Scotland, which in turn saw veteran Lasith Malinga dropped as captain in favour of Dimuth Karunratne.
There’s plenty of surrounding the 1996 champions on both sides of the ball, and although Malinga has taken an impressive 43 wickets in his 22 World Cup matches, there’s no real value in Sri Lanka this year.
Best Bet: Lasith Malinga Top Sri Lankan Wicket Taker @ $3.75
It’s been a messy leadup to the World Cup for Afghanistan, barely surviving in the qualifying stages to sneak into the Super Six.
Afghanistan went on a run through March defeating Nepal and taking three of their five ODI matches against Ireland to win the series. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worst though with Ashghar Afghan relieved from captaincy in favour of Gulbadin Naib.
The Semi-Final looks an unrealistic expectation for a side that made it only as far as the Group Stage in 2015, but that’s still the goal Afghanistan have set themselves. Unfortunately, it’s tough to see them making it that far with a weakened squad that will likely serve as nothing more than cannon fodder for the world’s top five teams.
On the plus side, Rashid Khan looks nice odds to lead the team as Top Wicket Taker. The 20-year-old has taken 125 wickets with the white ball in 59 ODI’s.
Best Bet: Rashid Khan Top Afghanistani Wicket Taker @ $2.20