The 10 best ODI cricket teams in the world will play 48 matches in England and Wales as Australia looks to defend their title won in 2015.
It has been a rough journey for the Australian Men’s cricket team in the lead up to this world cup: the ball-tampering scandal, subsequent suspensions and the first ever Test series loss against India on home soil. But we are finally here.
In the warm-up games, Steve Smith and David Warner were showered with boos from the crowd. But the Australian side should own their villain status. Following the ball-tampering scandal and as defending champions they will have a target on their backs.
On top of the controversy, we are in wonderful form and the Australian media figureheads lay out their token cases to lift the world cup trophy once again.
But there may be some truth behind all these predictions. While England is favoured, there will be a lot of pressure on them to win especially at home. South Africa is starting the round robin stage without Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada is only just returning from a back injury.
Andrew Symonds summed it up well on cricket.com.au: “the World Cup is a different animal. It’s a different type of pressure, especially at the start.”
“If you have a good start, win your first game, then your second game and third game you can then get into your work. But if you’re under pressure early on, you lose your first couple of games, it’s a different atmosphere, a different type of heat.”
Australia has proven they can win World Cups. Four of the last five to be exact and have consistently ranked in the top-five in ICC ODI rankings.
Aaron Finch didn’t play amazingly in the warm-up matches but is coming off a record-breaking series against Pakistan where he set a new record for the most runs in a five-game ODI series in Australian history. In four games.
Steve Smith has also rounded into form at the right time putting up 76 and a cheeky ton against England in the warm-up matches. The same can’t be said for David Warner, also on his return after the ball-tampering bans, who hasn’t passed the 50 mark since returning to the Australian side.
However, coach Justin Langer has an embarrassment of riches heading into the first game against Afghanistan as he decides who to open the batting next to Finch. Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh each have viable cases.
“It’s going to be a really tough call. We’ve said it from day one, there’s going to be some tough calls but we’re going to have a good squad,” Langer said to 2GB on Thursday morning.
In a batsmen’s game when 350 runs are about par, bowling is seemingly less-important to the winning formula. But other teams can’t boast the GOAT; Nathan “Gary” Lyon on their squad.
In all seriousness, the return of Mitchell Starc to a deep bowling attack will help the Aussies. Every bowler in the side was able to take at least one wicket in the warm-up matches and hopefully every bowler can be a threat for 50 overs.
Defending champions, the return of the ‘cheaters’ and on English soil has set the stage for Australia to be the super villains of the tournament. Maybe the villains will win this one.