On the eve of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Kettle Mag takes a look at the fourteen teams starting the 11th World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with dreams of lifting the trophy.
The Aussie’s enter the tournament as firm favourites, the world’s No1 ranked ODI side, are the team to beat. After proving their strength in home conditions with a tri-series win against England and India, Australia look formidable, particularly with the ability to bat deep down the order. With a bowling line up spear headed by powerhouse Mitchell Johnson, who simply blew England away in the last Ashes series, the pace attack will trouble batsmen throughout any innings. On the batting side, the power of David Warner and Glen Maxwell, and the incredible form of possibly the most improved batsmen, Steven Smith, puts the opposition on the back foot straight away. Complimented with the experience of Michael Clarke(albeit an injury concern) and Brad Haddin, Australia are a strong force to be reckoned with
Joint hosts alongside the Aussie’s, New Zealand are in pursuit of their first ICC World Cup title, and it would take someone braver than myself, to bet against them. The Kiwis always seem to be challenging for the title, making six of the last ten semi-finals in the competition. With innovative skipper and star batsman, Brendon McCullum describing them as one of the strongest teams he’s been involved in, could it be their year? With a classy line up, including the likes of Vettori, Southee, Taylor and Ronchi, it’s not difficult to see how, with home advantage, New Zealand will be a strong force in this tournament.
A strong unit in all departments, can South Africa finally rid the reputation of chokers and succeed in this year’s world cup? They will miss the skill and experience of Jacque Kallis and Graeme Smith, as well as an established all-rounder but it is without a doubt that South Africa possess some of the best cricketers in the world. From AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla with the bat, to Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel’s skill with the ball, many will suggest it is their tournament to lose, as they also enter as one of the favourites.
Attempting to move on from the aftermath of the KP fiasco, England have some fresh faces hoping to take the tournament by storm. Not even close to being favourites however they are by no means a write off. With the experienced new ball attack of Broad and Anderson, and new skipper Morgan, alongside the skill of opening batting pair Bell and Moeen Ali, it will make them a tough side to beat. A testing game to start the tournament off against host’s Australia, which could knock them sideways but nevertheless, a young side trying to make their way once again.
— England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) February 13, 2015
Current World Cup holders, India are a strong side who will go far in the competition. With star batsmen such as Kohli and Dhoni, you should expect fireworks however both have been in woeful form since touching down in Australia. Notorious for not performing well away from home, Australia and New Zealand’s bouncy green pitches are a huge barrier in the way of success for the Indian team however you would be a fool to rule them out.
A team which boasts immense experience in the likes of Jayawardena, Sangakkara and Dilshan, Sri Lanka are always a contender in the one day game. Batting is quite clearly their strength, with dynamic Dilshan at the top of the order and lynchpin Matthews. Sri Lanka rely heavily in their bowling attack on the dangerous Malinga with the new ball, the ace in the pack who can cause damage to any team’s batting lineup. With conditions that aren’t best suited to them, they aren’t favourites however teams will have to play very well to beat them.
— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 13, 2015
The last time the World Cup was held Down Under in 1992, Pakistan pulled off an unbelievable victory to lift the trophy and they will obviously hope that their success will be repeated this time round. Suffering a setback with one of their frontline pacers, Junaid Khan ruled out of the tournament, their bowling is not at full strength however still a strong team. At times, they can be unpredictable but this can also be one of their strengths however the Pakistan side can never be underestimated, with players such as Afridi able to turn the magic on when it really matters.
A team of power, flair and flamboyance, West Indies are one of the most attractive sides in the competition and have had much success in ODI and T20 tournaments.Often very reliant on big guns Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, they will need their young players to stand up and be counted too if they are to stand any chance of lifting the trophy. The lack of experience in their bowling is a weakness, and will make bowling at the death somewhat difficult, however the Windies batting will be their mainstay in the tournament, with the ability to blow opposition bowling attacks out of the water. Would be a major surprise for them to lift the trophy this time round.
Not yet to win a match in either of the host nations, Bangladesh are not a huge threat to the main eight teams. Shakib-al-Hasan does have the ability to turn a match on its head, as does Tamim Iqbal at the top of the order and Rahim had a fantastic 2014, averaging 44.00 but apart from those three, there is little depth in either department.
After pulling off a historical win against Australia last August, it has become clear that the Zimbabwe team are able to hold their own against the big guns.Fighting to keep their test match status, keep an eye out for the match versus Ireland, who are battling to show they’re ready for the test arena.
All teams will have to be on their guard when facing Ireland, something England learnt the hard way in 2011, losing off the last ball in a thrilling run chase and they have acquired a reputation of pulling off incredible wins against Test playing nations. Ireland have improved immensely, with players such as Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield and Ed Joyce meaning they are on longer seen as an ‘easy game’. Will be great for them to get through the first stages and are most likely to cause upsets in the tournament.
Beating Kenya to secure a place in the tournament, this will be the first time Afghanistan have taken part in a 50 over event. Will be a surprise if they record a victory however their journey to partake in the tournament has been inspiring.
For the third time in history, Scotland have made it to the World Cup(that’s cricket, not football…). The squad has a few familiar faces from the county scene and will be supported by former England all-rounder, Paul Collingwood as coach. Will be interesting to see how they fare and could cause an upset or two if they play well, reflected in their narrow 2 run defeat against the West Indies earlier this week.
The biggest outsider of the tournament, United Arab Emirates are making a comeback to the World Cup after nearly two decades. Would be a huge shock for them to win, with almost no chance against the main eight, however a fantastic experience for them all the same.