By the time you read this, the 10th Cricket World Cup will be well underway in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Whilst seemingly lasting longer than any other major sporting event, it always delivers thrilling cricket. What’s more is that the time difference will make it much easier to watch than the unforgiving, sleep pattern-destroying Ashes series did. Here, then, is a handy guide to the 14 competitors.
Winners of the last 3 tournaments and undefeated in World Cups since May 27, 1999. Coming into the competition off the back of some of their worst cricket for many years, the Aussies have everything to lose.
Key Batsman: Shane Watson.
Key Bowler: Mitchell Johnson.
Having performed above expectation back in 2007, cricket’s perennial underdogs will once again look to embarrass the big teams. But with Mashrafe Mortaza out through injury their lack of depth in fast bowling will not help their cause.
Key Batsman: Tamim Iqbal.
Key Bowler: Shakib Al Hasan.
With the number of teams due to play at the 2015 World Cup reduced to 10, this could be Canada’s last appearance at the tournament for the foreseeable future.
Key Batsman: Ashish Bagai.
Key Bowler: John Davison.
As ready as they’ll ever be to win their first 50 Over tournament, injury trouble is the only thing that might hold England back from continuing their rise through the ranks in all three formats of the game.
Key Batsman: Kevin Pietersen.
Key Bowler: James Anderson.
Very slight favourites ahead of South Africa. With a line-up including names like Tendulkar, Sehwag and Harbahjan, India have all the ingredients required to dominate the tournament. How they bowl at the death will likely decide whether 2011 will be their year.
Key Batsman: Sachin Tendulkar.
Key Bowler: Zaheer Kahn.
Ed Joyce has returned to the team having given up on his England career and will hope to help Ireland slay a couple of giants as they did four years ago.
Key Batsman: William Porterfield.
Key Bowler: Trent Johnston.
Probably the strongest of the minnows, they famously reached the semi-finals in 2003. Bet against them at your peril.
Key Batsman: Steve Tikolo.
Key Bowler: Thomas Odoyo.
While slightly better than their World Cup record suggests, they are still unlikely to trouble the top teams.
Key Batsman: Ryan ten Doeschate.
Key Bowler: Ryan ten Doeschate.
Skipper Daniel Vettori will step down after the tournament and, like Australia, the Kiwis go into the tournament having played some of their worst cricket for years. However, they are a side that should never be underestimated.
Key Batsman: Ross Taylor.
Key Bowler: Daniel Vettori.
Considering the on-going spot fixing inquiry and hearings, they’ve had a very good build up to the tournament. Any team that allows Afridi or Razzaq to gain momentum at the end of an innings could be chasing a bigger total than they think.
Key Batsman: Umar Akmal.
Key Bowler: Umar Gul.
With two of the top 3 ODI batsmen in the world, they have a formidable batting line-up and explosive bowlers to go with it. If they can overcome their tendency to choke when it really matters then they can easily make the final.
Key Batsman: AB de Villiers.
Key Bowler: Morne Morkel.
With a runners-up medal from the 2007 World Cup and the incomparable Muttiah Muralitharan playing his swansong competition, the Sri Lankans are the tournament’s dark horses. If I were a betting man…
Key Batsman: Mahela Jayawardene.
Key Bowler: Lasith Malinga.
Since winning the first two World Cups in ‘75 and ’79, the Windies have done nothing but underachieve at major competitions. As poor in bowling as they are spectacular in batting, they’re probably the hardest team to prepare for playing against as you never know which West Indies team will show up on the day.
Key Batsman: Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Key Bowler: Dwayne Bravo.
Currently in a self-imposed exile from Test cricket, they certainly have more national issues outside of cricket than any other side. Despite this, they always turn up to World Cups playing carefree cricket and even have some uncharacteristically good form building up to this year’s competition.
Key Batsman: Brendan Taylor.
Key Bowler: Ed Rainsford.