The People’s Preview Panel: 2019 Cricket World Cup
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
Cricket returns to the Motherland, but will it be the ‘Boys in Sky Blue’ that are left holding the World Cup on July 14th? As England and South Africa got the festivities underway, our Cricket Nuffies dig into on all of the major talking points for the tournament ahead a
There are three clear favourites (ENG / IND / AUS) but which nation is the dark horse?
Jack Banister: I guess it depends whether you think the dark horse has to be a potential winner. I could be missing the notion of the question, but I’m going to go with Afghanistan. They’re the sort of team that could really bugger someone’s tournament up with a win, especially given they have Rashid Khan, who could just rip the heart of even one of the top-end sides with some sort of absolutely mindblowing spin skullduggery. Imagine if England cough up the World Cup on home soil by finishing fifth after a loss to Afghanistan…yum.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: New Zealand seem to be the staple dark horse of Cricket World Cups and I reckon they are probably the most likely team to fill the final semi-final spot. I also think that South Africa could surprise a lot of people. They have a talented team and although they haven’t performed well at all recently, they could click in this tournament.
Will Stanistreet: I’m on South Africa for this. They’ve got some real talent in their list, especially in the quicks department. Plus, all the teams that I perennially dislike are doing well at the moment, so I think they’re pretty much a shoo-in. Or wait… how are Afghanistan doing again?
Gordon Meredith: With this version of the tournament seeing every nation playing each other once, I believe it’s going to be very hard for an outsider to “jag” a spot on the final but I believe there are three nations vying for that fourth spot in the semi-finals. New Zealand come across on paper as a side that should be suited to the English conditions. South Africa’s bowling attack (if somewhere near their absolute best) can blow apart a team on any given day. But the ultimate smokie for mine is the West Indies. Off the back of a 421 total in their final warm-up fixture vs. New Zealand, the Windies are changing the cliches of cricket. It used to be “catches win matches” but it could be “hit another six, put us in the mix” and at $19 they are absurd value for lovers of the punt.
Which discipline will decide the tournament?
Jack Banister: Hmmmmmm. I think new ball / pace bowling. Stopping sides getting that ridiculous start in the Power Play is going to be vital, and I do think there’s A LOT of explosive bats going around. Whether the conditions are moist and the need is wickets from rampaging spells, or they’re dry and it’s just about containing, I think the seamers will be key.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: I reckon that with teams going after massive totals (talk of needing 400 at some small grounds), getting early wickets will be key to try and stop players from getting in and being able to hit it wherever they want. This could be with the new ball or in the middle overs and I think that spin may play a big role in taking wickets as players try to go too hard against them.
Will Stanistreet: Run chasing has just become “the thing” with the dominance of Twenty20, I’m backing it to also to be the deciding factor in the 50 over game. Cue MS Dhoni hitting 60 off four overs or something equally daft.
Gordon Meredith: Spin to win baby. The top three wicket takers in the last two years of ODI cricket are spinners. And while they have all played a massive wodge of matches in the last 24 months they have impressive economy and strike rates to back up their massive wicket hauls. Kuldeep Yadav: 87 wkts @ 4.93 Econ / 26.4 SR, Rashid Khan: 72 wkts @ 3.73 Econ / 23.0 SR and Adil Rashid — 5.53 Econ / 29.3 SR. Sure the quicks are scary, but a french cut is still a boundary and a top edge is still a “maximum”. Look for off-speed bowling and variations to get the commentators' tongues wagging.
Virat Kohli is expecting 260–270 totals this tournament, but the most recent bilateral series in England saw 340 as closer to the ‘standard’ score. Which World Cup are you expecting “Stick Cricket IRL” or “Back-to-the-Future” One Day Cricket?
Jack Banister: I mean, there’s the Melbourne summer, and then there’s the English summer, so this one is a poisoned chalice. I’ll try, though… I’m predicting the Climate Change World Cup. Expect flat tracks, and the associated bullies, ridiculous temperatures, and Jos Buttler tonking them to infinity and beyond.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: I kind of hope the scoring follows the retro team kit trend and we see a lot of tight chases with 250 being a competitive score. But realistically, the way England have set the standard, I think it will be difficult to win without posting at least 300 most matches.
Will Stanistreet: I’m hoping for some tight low scores but I just can’t see it happening. People want big scores. Are we sure Virat wasn’t talking about his individual total for each game?
Gordon Meredith: Come on Kohli, you’re having a laugh! In their final warm-up fixture, MS Dhoni and KL Rahul out on a master class of “total setting” to progress from 4/102 after 22 to finish 7/359 after 50! (That’s a casual run rate of 9.18 for 28 overs.) The mean score for the warm-ups was a paltry 264 but if you exclude NZ’s domination of India and England’s steamrolling of Afghanistan and the mean score increases to 296. This is will be the “runs for fun” World Cup.
Which game(s) will you be staying up for?
Jack Banister: I guess I don’t have fan allegiances here. I don’t really actively support Australia, and while I like England in the Ashes, part of me just reckons the best and/or funniest story is if they royally cock it all up. So, with that in mind, I’ll be watching them closely. On form, they should be supremely entertaining, but if not, it’s going to be a great choke — so really, it’s a win-win.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: I’m planning on becoming nocturnal for the next month and will watch as many as I can. Although I reckon the extended group format might make some later matches pretty pointless and can probably catch up on some sleep for those ones.
Will Stanistreet: The big duke out. England vs India is just such an event. So much historical anger to get played out. Also, who even is this Jack Banister bloke? Not supporting Australia. Did you sanction this Gordon? How did he get in here?
Gordon Meredith: Depending on how the tournament plays out, Match 45, the final match of the round robin portion of the tournament, could be a pseudo Elimination Final. It also just happens to be between Australia and South Africa. Revenge of Sandpapergate. De Kock vs. Warner. A place in the finals (potentially) on the line. There are pressure cookers and then there are moral paradox flashbacks on the field of sporting battle. It will be must watch television. And yes Will Stanistreet, Jack Banister is a closet Pom.
Which player are you most looking forward to watching this tournament?
Jack Banister: Rashid Khan. Nothing excites me like a well-bowled flipper. Or a swear jar. Or Mick Molloy.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: Cricket’s a team game…
Will Stanistreet: Not a player but I’m most looking forward to the stump mic audio when Quinton de Kock is keeping up to David Warner. It’ll get BOG.
Gordon Meredith: Two words… Bum Pats! :cough: I mean, GLENN MAXWELL. He went over to England early to play with Lancashire and has been a match winner WITH THE BALL! If he gets going with the bat, and continues with the ball, then roll in his magic in the field and you have the best player in the world. Forget “The Big Show”, Glenn Maxwell is “THE SHOW.”
Can Warner and Smith restore their ‘legacy’ in this tournament, or is winning not a “Band-Aid” fix?
Jack Banister: Sigh. The story if Australia go deep her will be redemption, but I think that’s short-sighted. Their legacies are now forever going to be intertwined with sandpapergate. No matter what they do from here, it will probably be seen as the defining point in their careers. Even if Australia won, and it was billed as a redemption story, you can’t have redemption without the fall…
Oliver Fitzpatrick: Their ‘legacy’ will always be tarnished by what happened in Cape Town and nobody has ever really questioned their on-field abilities so performance is irrelevant to their off-field perception. Having said that, if Australia win the final and Warner dances whilst waving a stump above his head on the Lord’s balcony then he will probably get a statue outside the MCG.
Will Stanistreet: Nah, they’ll always have the smell of Cam Bancroft’s well-worn jocks to contend with. I don’t think runs will really fix that. But then again if Smith adjusts his pads to a couple of tons, we all might feel a little differently.
Gordon Meredith: It seems everyone still has long memories, but they’ve forgotten the one adage of professional cricket. Runs fix everything. Warner and Smith tonning up in the World Cup Final is a sports redemption movie that writes itself. (Although Sporting Chance dibs first crack at producing the script.)
The English Press are renowned for being hard taskmasters, how long into the tournament before they start to eat their own?
Jack Banister: Honestly, the minute there is any sign of a crack. It’ll be like that scene in Madgascar where Alex starts seeing his friends as lamb chops. Except here Alex is the press and Joe Root is the lamb chop (I know Eoin Morgan is captain, but he’s Irish).
Oliver Fitzpatrick: As soon as they run out of sandpaper gags then they will be looking for the next victim and if England even remotely look like stumbling early in the tournament then it will be on.
Will Stanistreet: I assume someone has already started abusing the curators for not making English friendly pitches? Won’t take long before somehow Piers Morgan will feel empowered to say something daft.
Gordon Meredith: England are raging favourites and as such they won’t even have to lose before the pile on begins. They’ll have a free hit for their first game against South Africa but if they “only” beat Pakistan by less than 25 runs / 2 wickets / 5 overs, the doubters and the headlines will come. Set your UK newspaper trial subscriptions to commence Tuesday 3rd June.
What’s more important to you as a cricket fan? Winning the World Cup or winning an Ashes in England?
Jack Banister: Nah. Just an even contest. IDGAF who wins either.
Oliver Fitzpatrick: Some of my greatest cricket memories have been Australia’s World Cup winning finals, the noise when Starc bowled McCullum was the loudest I’ve ever heard the G. But, the 2005 Ashes series in England was the peak of cricket watching enjoyment and so I think winning a series like that would top winning the World Cup (although not many Ashes series are like that).
Will Stanistreet: The Ashes. It’s the slow delightful burn that takes an entire season and really demands focus and energy. Plus, my family is English and it’s much easier to sneak an ‘Ashes’ reference into pleasant conversation than a ‘World Cup’ one.
Gordon Meredith: It HAS to be the World Cup. I get that Test Cricket is “real” cricket, and there’s nothing sweeter than beating the Old Foe at home… except, wait there is! Winning the World Cup AGAIN and beating every team the Top 10 in the process. Surely being the best in the world is more important than just beating one country. Apologies for the blasphemy, purists.
Pick ‘Em! Who will be the leading runs scorer, leading wicket taker and (of course) who will win the World Cup?
Jack Banister: Runs: Jos Buttler, good initials too… (He’ll score millions) / Wickets: Rashid Khan (32, all of them with flippers) / Winner: The West Indies (over England in the final by 1 run after a dubious Duckworth/Lewis equation and an almighty electric thunderstorm)
Oliver Fitzpatrick: Runs: Kane Williamson (and the most style points too) / Wickets: Jasprit Bumrah (yorkers, yorkers and more yorkers) / Winner: India (over England with an Allan Donald-esque runout sealing the win)
Will Stanistreet: Runs: Steve Smith (with a pad adjustment count of 1.5 million) / Wickets: The Third Umpire / Winner: Australia (with Mitchell Starc drinking a vial of Brendon McCullum’s tears he kept from last the last World Cup)
Gordon Meredith: Runs: Glenn Maxwell / Wickets: Glenn Maxwell / Winner: Glenn Maxwell… I’m just saying he’s THAT good! But to straighten up:
Runs: Virat Kolhi (and he’ll do it without a breakout despite all that time in a helmet) / Wickets: Kuldeep Yadav (he’ll get stacks of cheapies from blokes trying to hit him into the Atlantic Ocean, but cheapies are wickets too) / Winner: India (after Jos Buttler is “run-out-at-the-non-striker’s-end” for a diamond duck by Ravi Ashwin, setting off a huge batting collapse and a Twitterapocalypse.)