What a start to the weekend lies in store as on Valentine’s Day, Saturday 14th February, one of the biggest sporting events of the year begins. All eyes will be focused on Australia and New Zealand as 14 of the world’s best one-day cricket sides compete in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Let’s learn a little about how the tournament is organised, before looking at which teams will likely make it through to the quarter finals and who out of all the teams, is most likely to lift the trophy in the final at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday 29th March 2015.
At the end of this article, we’ll give our tops bets UK punters should consider for the Cricket World Cup. We recommend Bet365 as a top UK sports wagering destination – and new players are qualifed to receive a $100 Bet365 Sports welcome bonus just for creating a new account at the site.
Fourteen teams have qualified for the Cricket World Cup and they have been split into two groups of seven teams apiece:-
Pool A Afghanistan Australia Bangladesh England New Zealand Scotland Sri Lanka
Pool B India Ireland Pakistan South Africa United Arab Emirates West Indies Zimbabwe
The teams in each pool will play each other once during the first round of the tournament, with each team playing a total of six one-day games. At the end of the first stage of the tournament a final table will be compiled for each pool and the top four teams in each pool will progress into the quarter final stages of the tournament.
Unlike other events where position in the pool determines your opponent and venue in the quarter finals, the ICC have seeded the quarter finals so that four teams, Sri Lanka, England, Australia and New Zealand will be kept apart and play in the quarter finals against qualifying opposition from the other pool.
Furthermore, if New Zealand or Australia reach the semi finals of the tournament, then both these teams would have favourable ‘home’ draws in the semi’s, New Zealand playing at Eden Park in Auckland and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. That will be the case only if the teams do not face each other. Should Australia and New Zealand be drawn together to meet in the semi finals, the team who finished highest in their pool will have the home advantage.
The final itself will take place on Sunday March 29th at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with play starting at 14:30 local time.
A preview of each pool of teams
Of the two pools, Pool A looks arguably the tougher group. Four of the super-powers in the world of cricket, Australia, New Zealand, England and Sri Lanka will be expected to progress into the quarter finals from the group and indeed, it would take a radical loss of form from any of this quartet to deny them a place in the last eight.
In truth, Scotland, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are only likely to gain experience of playing these top teams with their only chance of success realistically coming when they face each other; though of course Scotland will be keen to give England a tough game as they have done in the past.
How high teams finish in Pool A will likely determine the strength of their opponent in the quarter final, so matches between the top four in the group will be keenly contested, none more so than the opening game between Australia and England on the opening day.
Given the relative lack of strength of the current West Indies and Pakistan teams, Pool B does look considerably the weaker group and if there is likely to be an upset in the group stage, it could well come in this group. India and South Africa will almost certainly qualify in the top two positions of the group but after that, Pakistan and West Indies could be sorely tested by an emerging Zimbabwe side, not to mention an Ireland side that is also growing in confidence and experience.
The UAE however are not likely to pose a threat to any of the top sides and it would be a surprise if they managed to win a single game in the group.
With India and South Africa so dominant, it does mean that the rest of Pool B is up for grabs and while Pakistan and West Indies should prevail, one loss against Ireland or Zimbabwe could see either of these teams sneak a place in the quarter finals.
Top bets to consider
To win pool – It’s very hard to back against Australia to win Pool A at 10/11, though the sensible choice would be to pair them with South Africa, who are the 8/11 favourites to win Pool B. A £10 bet on this double would return £32.90.
Top Batsman – In order for a player to be the top Batsman it is likely they will have to reach the Semi Finals at least and that means you are generally looking for players from teams that have a great chance of doing so. In my mind, that means Australia, South Africa and India. David Warner is the smart pick as he is in outstanding form with the bat at present and he is an 8/1 shot, but the pressures of a World Cup on home soil will be great. My choice here would be the ever-reliable Virat Kohli of India who at 12/1, looks excellent value.
Top Bowler – Two names dominate this market, Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson and it is hard to go against either of these 9/1 co-favourites for the title of top bowler. Both are equally important to their team’s attack and both are in great form heading into the World Cup. Home advantage however could be crucial here so we think Johnson is the wiser choice, by the smallest of margins.
Overall Winner – Finally, which country will be successful in the final in late March? Well Australia have home advantage and it is hard to argue with their 15/8 pricing as they have been in good form of late. South Africa look the side most capable of stopping them, and they are a 3/1 shot. However, Cricket World Cup’s have occasionally thrown up a surprise finalist so with that in mind, I’d suggest taking Australia for the win but perhaps an each way bet on Sri Lanka at 11/1 would be worthwhile. The Sri Lankans have an excellent World Cup pedigree and have a fearsome batting line up, combined with a decent bowling attack.