The ICC Cricket World Cup begins in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh later this week and it is proving to be a difficult one to pick a standout favourite. Any one of five teams can be named the victors this year and after pouring over the facts many people are still unclear who to lean towards. This is where we come in, what you will read in the following article is an in-depth analysis of every team in the World Cup – covering an 11 man squad we expect to take to the field, the key factor, the “x” factor and where we predict them to finish.
GROUP A is made up of Australia, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. GROUP B is made up of Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, Netherlands, South Africa and West Indies.
Potential Lineup- Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Cameron White, David Hussey, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Doug Bollinger.
Key Player – Shane Watson: He is the main man in Australian cricket at the moment, certainly the most consistent performer over all forms of the game for the Aussies in our summer of cricket. He has the important role of opening the batting, most likely paired with Brad Haddin, and he will be expected to give the Australians a good base to launch their attack off. Opposition teams will be wanting to get Watson out very quickly because he has the ability to lash out and score at a run-a-ball or better, or manipulate the ball around the field for the singles and twos. The Austalian batting score will hinge immensely on what Watson produces. He is also a very handy seam bowler and is usually used as the second change bowler and he is known to get a wicket almost immediately when he comes into the attack. Opposition teams shouldn’t underestimate his bowling ability either, this is isn’t a Test match so he doesn’t have to bat again, which means he will bowl his alloted ten overs each game.
X-Factor – Mitchell Johnson: Most people would say Johnson I know, however understand that he isn’t my first choice. Steve Smith would have been my choice as x-factor, but he is injured still and fighting to be ready in time, so Johnson it is. When Johnson bowls well, he bats well. Or if he bats well, he bowls well, it’s that simple with him. His game is built on his own confidence and if that confidence is high, opposition teams watchout! He can be devasting when brought into the bowling attack and can easily take a number of wickets in a limited amount of time. He will play second fiddle to Brett Lee in terms of leading the bowling attack. In recent years Johnson has been upgraded to all-rounder status and at times he legitimately is just that. If he plays his natural game of trying to thump the ball out of the ground, he does well and will score very quickly. Australia will look to Johnson to bring some aggression and will hope that his confidence peaks at the right moments.
Predicted Finish – Winner
Potential Lineup- Hiral Patel, John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Ashish Bagai, Zubin Surkari, Amabhir Hansra, Tyson Gordon, Rizwan Cheema, Henry Osinde, Harvir Baidwan, Khurram Chohan.
Key Player – John Davison is their opening batsmen and a devastating one at that, anyone else remember that 100 from 67 balls? This man is one of the few recognised cricketers in this Canadian team. The people from Victoria and South Australia would recognise him and remember his hard hitting style of batting as he suited up for them from 1995-2002 and 2002-2005 respectively. Davison isn’t a key player in terms of gaining a result for Canada, they will be few and far between, he is the key to Canada posting a respectable score.
X-Factor – Ashish Bagai, the captain and the wicketkeeper, possibly second only to Davison in regards to batting talent. He is a very good batsmen that can either stick around at the crease or blaze away. Expect him to try to occupy the crease and build a score. As the wicketkeeper/captain the opposition teams can expect his voice in their ears at all times. Also as a player born in India, the conditions and wickets may suit him more than others in the Canadian team, further solidifying his value to them.
Predicted Finish – Group stage exit for the Canadians unfortunately
Potential Lineup- Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Maurice Ouma, Rakep Patel, Jimmy Kamande, Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Elijah Otieno, James Ngoche.
Key Player – Thomas Odoyo: The main man in the Kenyan team, this guy is expected to make runs and take wickets each and every match. He is the star of Kenyan cricket and holds a number of records for them. If he doesn’t get a couple of wickets and 20+ runs a match, he hasn’t done his job.
X-Factor – Steve Tikolo: Touted as the greatest to come out of Kenya! If Tikolo can hit a big score then the Kenyans can post a reasonable total. They are capable of worrying a few teams, not overthrowing them, but at least making the matches interesting and Tikolo will be the determining factor in that. If he turns it on, its on!
Predicted Finish – Unfortunately for Kenya, an exit in the group stage beckons.
Potential Lineup- Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee.
Key Player – Daniel Vettori: The New Zealand skipper is possibly their most important player. Even more so in this World Cup where he may be the strike bowler for the Kiwis, who have no Shane Bond to bully opposition batsmen. Aside from his excellent spinners, Vettori is a more than serviceable batsmen and an outstanding tactician in the field. While an outside chance to win the World Cup, they can never be discredited.
X-Factor – Jacob Oram: This was a tough call, could have had Ross Taylor or Brendon McCullum here instead. I’ve gone with Oram because time and time again he proves to be a difficult batsmen to get out. When he is there, no opponent score is safe because he can put a massive dent in any buffer they may have had. He is also a very handy medium pace bowler, that has the ability to break partnerships.
Predicted Finish – QuarterFinals
Potential Lineup- Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akhmal, Umar Akhmal, Misbah Ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Saeed Ajmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Aktar.
Key Player – Shahid Afridi: The man that can hit the ball further than the majority of players in this World Cup. Also a very handy spin bowler for the Pakistanis. If this man is on song he can be one of the best ODI players in the world, which he has demonstrated a number of times in the past. Pakistan will be looking to Afridi to steer them through to a grand finish.
X-Factor – Umar Akhmal: This is the young superstar that has Pakistan fans and international fans alike salivating. He has burst onto the scene and if he performs to the high standard expected of him, could win Pakistan a number of games in this tournament. His combination of pure technical brilliance and his ability to power hit the ball makes him a key wicket for opposition teams.
Predicted Finish – Semifinals
Potential Lineup- Tillakratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaweera, Chamara Kapugadera, Angelo Matthews, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan.
Key Player – Kumar Sangakkara: One of the best wicketkeeper/batsmen in the world today. Sri Lanka will be looking to him to lead from the front with the bat and continue to make the right decisions that saw Sri Lanka beat Australia in Australia.
X-Factor – Lasith Malinga: Slinga-Malinga is the out and out pace option for the Sri Lankan team. He has the ability to change his deliveries and keep the batsmen guessing or dodging or closing their eyes or anything else they can think of doing when a ball is coming at your head at 150km/h. If he rips through opposition top orders then Sri Lanka will win more games than they lose.
Predicted Finish – Semifinals
Potential Lineup- Brendan Taylor, Charles Coventry, Tatenda Taibu, Sean Williams, Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura, Chris Mpofu, Ed Rainsford, Greg Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Ray Price.
Key Player – Greg Lamb: A spinning all-rounder for the Zimbabweans, that started off as a batsmen that could bowl a bit. In the recent warm-up match against Ireland he took 3 wickets off his 10 overs for a very economical 3 per over. If he is a batsmen that bowls a bit he could be a darkhorse in the lineup for Zimbabwe. With everyone focusing on the larger names of Taylor, Ervine etc. he may just be able to make the opposition pay
X-Factor – Tatenda Taibu: Strange I know that a wicketkeeper could be the x-factor however, he will be. Zimbabwe has named three keepers in their 15 man squad, so if Taibu wants to continue to play in the WC he has to perform. He can strike a ball, however is inconsistent with the bat. So with the threat looming over his head that there is not one, but two backup keepers ready to play, expect him to suddenly find some form and consistency.
Predicted Finish – Again will only be a group exit for Zimbabwe who have never been as good since Heath Streak left, and on a side note that is an awesome name.
Much like a small child being gently eased into the shallow end of the swimming pool, after MV’s brilliant analysis of Group A, I’m left with the group where only three of the top four qualifying teams actually deserve to make it to the quarters. Lets begin
Shakib Al Hasan (c), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shariar Nafees, Zunaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Raqibul Hassan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riad, Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam, Shafiul Islam, Suhrawardi Shuvo, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain.
Sakib Al Hasan – Bangladesh’s captain may be only 23 years old but he’s lead the Tigers to possibly their most successful year ever. After leading Bangladesh to their first Test series win over a current Test nation in 2009, 2010 saw him lead the team to a 4-0 brownwash over New Zealand. He’s sort of like Bangladesh’s Andrew Strauss.
I know that Bangladesh are playing at home and this will annoy fans of Bangladeshi cricket, but really they shouldn’t really make it past the group stage. With South Africa, India and England in their group, Bangladesh better be praying that the Irish don’t repeat their performance at the 2007 World Cup if they want a chance to make it to the finals. Quite frankly their development is pathetic for a Test nation. Sri Lanka was granted Test status in 1982 and won the Cup in ’96 for crying out loud.
Andrew Strauss (captain), Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.
Graeme Swann – It’s the sub-continent and these pitches are usually very spin friendly… if you’re from the subcontinent that is. Even Shane Warne couldn’t turn a doorknob on Indian wickets so if England want to get a bit of silverware in their trophy cabinet Graeme Swann must start bagging wickets. The shorter boundaries of the Indian grounds make scoring runs easy so wickets will win matches.
As we saw in the Champions Trophy in 2009, don’t let England’s one day thrashing at the hands of the Aussies post-Ashes be any indication of how they will fair in the tournament. Andy Flower seems to have done what no other English coach has done before him, and actually made a team where each person has a specific role. The only downside to England’s march to glory in 50 over cricket is their inability to win when it matters against Australia. Semi final exit for the English.
MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth.
Sachin Tendulkar – It is absolutely amazing just how great this man’s form has been in 2010… in the Test arena. Yes I know he scored 200* in an ODI and it’s fitting that he holds the record, but in 2010 he only played two ODI’s where he scored 4 and 200*. Sure bouncing back from four runs to make 200 is an impressive feat but his two innings against South Africa in January netted him a total of 31 runs. If he’s at the form he was in when he made that 200, then we’ll be looking at one hell of a matchwinner.
The good thing with India in any form of competitive cricket that they participate in, is that there is always only two outcomes. India don’t win, effigies of the players are burnt and the people riot. Or India do win, everyone celebrates and the people still riot. If looking at the way the crowd reacted to India’s impending defeat in the 1996 World Cup Semi Final, India have to win this tournament. Anything less is failure especially with the exit of Gary Kirsten as coach. Either India win or they become runners up. My gut says runners up but I’m assuming we’ll get plenty of commenters saying how this is India’s time.
William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Ed Joyce, John Mooney, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Gary Wilson, Andrew White.
Ed Joyce – If Ireland was a Test playing nation (and I’ll say it, they should be) Eoin Morgan would be the name highlighted in this column. It’s ironic that in Ireland’s superb 2007 World Cup campaign Ed Joyce was a part of England’s squad and Eoin Morgan was a big part of Ireland’s rise. Well how times change and after 2007, Ed Joyce made it his ultimate goal to re-qualify so he could play for Ireland. With only room for in the quarters and Ireland reasonably better than the ever failing West Indies and the never progressing Ireland, the veteran (and lets face it Ireland doesn’t have many that still play for Ireland at least) will want to get is team past the group stage at least.
India and South Africa are world class teams and on their best day, Ireland is an associate nation that is too good for the minnows yet don’t get the exposure and amount of games that they deserve as a team with ODI status. They’ve applied in 2009 to the ICC for Full Member status but let’s face it the Asian bloc wont want another team that could tip the balance of power, but that’s neither here nor there. Ireland will look to have West Indies and Bangladesh in their sights and if they play to the ability they are capable of they should easily make it into the quarters.
Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Adeel Raja, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent, Michael Swart.
Ryan ten Doeschate – Why him? Because he’s the only person in the entire playing squad I’ve actually seen play. He did pretty well for Tassie in the Big Bash and he’s taken player of the series in New Zealand domestic competition, plus he’s the first ever player from a non-Test playing nation to score a big money IPL contract. However all the highlights I’ve listed none of them matter since this isn’t T20 cricket.
It’s the Netherlands. They’re always involved in something big that happens in the World Cup. Be it upsetting a Test nation, to having six sixes clobbered off their bowlers in an over something eventful will happen in this Tournament and somewhere there’ll be Dutch fingerprints on it. As for their progression in the Tournament? They’re just making up the numbers.
Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk.
Jacques Kallis – Jacques Kallis is the statesman of the South African team. While this is Graeme Smith’s last time playing for the Proteas as captain, this tournament is one that Jacques Kallis will attempt to stamp his authority on. Being the only one in the squad who was there during that infamous World Cup semi final in 1999 which was the last time South Africa legitimately had a chance at winning the cup. With the squad that South Africa has at the moment and the form (and new hair) that Kallis has combined with the scars from ’99, Kallis will be the key player for South Africa.
There’s something about South Africa that I just can’t put my finger on. Their batsmen make runs, their bowlers take wickets and they field like a team of eleven Jonty Rhodes’s. They just don’t win. They’ve been labeled as chokers so much since 1999 that hell, most of us are finding it difficult to breathe. All I can guarantee is that Jacques Kallis won’t get what he deserves at the end of this tournament. Interpret that however you wish but I’ll bet when every South African cricket fan looks back at their prior World Cups, they wish that the Duckworth-Lewis method was around in 1992.
Darren Sammy (captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr., Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.
Chris Gayle – It’s a strange situation with Chris Gayle. Sometimes he looks so indifferent when he’s standing there in the slips with one of his many fashionable pairs of sunglasses and the other times he’s taking wickets and belting bowlers into the second tiers of the boundaries. Ever since he was stripped off the West Indies captaincy, Gayle has been unleashed scoring a triple century against Sri Lanka in the Windies last Test series and pulverizing Aussie domestic bowlers in the Big Bash.
Since it’s not 1975, labeling the West Indies as a favourite isn’t really a smart thing to do. This is a team that doesn’t really gel together as a unit like the other squads. In the past couple of years they’ve had players strikes, team infighting and the refusal of their top players in signing contracts. In short they’re the new Pakistan minus the match fixing. The West Indies haven’t been competitive since 1995 and considering their earlier dominance of the ODI format its quite sad to watch what they’ve become today. They’ll make it through to the quarters but they don’t deserve to.
That being said, this really is the world cup where at least six of the competing teams actually have a shot to reach the cup. It’s mainly the decline of the Aussies, but even a bad Australia can beat a good Pakistan any day of the week. The 2011 World Cup also marks the last time we’ll be seeing any Associate nations take part as the 2015 Tournament is reduced to the Test playing nations only. Which, as Graeme Swann so elegantly put, “removes the world from the World Cup”.