Cricket World Cup 2015: All of your questions about the tournament answered

With the tournament starting on Saturday, here is everything you need to know

Click to follow
The Independent Online

WHO WILL WIN IT?

It's almost impossible to look past Australia and South Africa.

Australia have home advantage, boast the explosive opening pair of David Warner and Aaron Finch, and have a potent pace attack led by Mitchell Johnson.

The South Africans have within their ranks the best limited-overs batsman in the world in AB de Villiers, the best fast bowler in Dale Steyn and, in Imran Tahir, a potentially match-winning spinner. New Zealand and Spain have finally shrugged off their reputations as chokers in rugby union and football respectively – surely it is the Proteas' turn.

Of the rest, Australia's co-hosts New Zealand pose the most significant threat – their eye-catching batting line-up, led by Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Brendan McCullum, is capable of chasing any target.

 

DIDN'T INDIA WIN IT LAST TIME THOUGH?

Yes, but they have spent all winter in Australia, which should have been the ideal preparation, without even looking like winning a match. Worryingly, they were just as at sea against England in the recent Tri-Series as against their hosts, and lean far too heavily on Virat Kohli, their one genuine world-class batsman.

With Rohit Sharma, the other standout member of the Indian top order, battling injury, the weight on Kohli's shoulders will be huge, and it will take a drastic reversal in fortunes for India to mount a serious defence of their title.

NO CHANCE FOR ENGLAND THEN?

No. Their victories over India were encouraging, but also as much a reflection of India's dire recent form as English excellence. On paper, Eoin Morgan's side are ideally suited to the conditions – England have a varied, high-quality pace attack and a decent blend of touch players and explosive hitters like Jos Buttler.

Buttler-Getty.jpg
Jos Buttler can change a game in an instant (Getty)

However, their clashes against Australia indicated the gulf between England and the best one-day sides in the world, and their recent poor form in the format means Peter Moores' team lack the crucial ruthless winning streak they require. A semi-final spot would be a triumph.

WHO ARE THE PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR?

His absurd 149 off just 44 balls against West Indies cemented AB de Villiers' status as the world's best ODI batsman, and he will spearhead the Proteas' charge with his more than able deputy Hashim Amla.

Kane Williamson and Steve Smith go into the tournament in free-scoring form for the two host nations and Chris Gayle is always on the verge of a devastating innings, while the evergreen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will target a fitting swan song in their farewell tournament.

Kane-Williamson-Getty.jpg
Kane Williamson is set to make a big impression (Getty)

Recent limited-overs cricket has been dominated by mystery spinners, but here the stage is set for the pacemen. The likes of Mitchell Johnson, Morne Morkel and England's Steven Finn will be licking their lips at the prospect of Australia's hard, bouncy tracks, while Dale Steyn and Jimmy Anderson will relish New Zealand's swing- and seam-friendly conditions.

The most effective spinners are likely to be two all-rounders – Bangladesh's Shakib Al-Hasan and Pakistan's experienced maverick Shahid Afridi have the nous to blossom even in unfavourable conditions.

WE KNEW ALL OF THEM ALREADY. ANYONE A BIT MORE LEFT-FIELD?

Every World Cup throws out a couple of breakout stars.

South Africa's 22-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock is already well-established at the top of the order and will relish his chance on the world stage, while fit-again Australian paceman Pat Cummins, still just 21, will be eager to live up to the hype that has surrounded him since his teens.

Keep an eye out too for Bangladesh's No 3 Mominul Haque – the left-hander hasn't set the world alight in ODI cricket yet, but has plundered more than 1200 runs in just 12 Test appearances.

WHICH OF THE MINNOWS CAN SPRING A SURPRISE?

Eoin Morgan will be delighted that the Netherlands, who have twice embarrassed England in the World T20, failed to qualify. His native Ireland, who stunned England at the 2011 tournament in an epic contest, did make the cut, and are the most likely of the associate nations to spring a shock.

hair-dye.jpg
Ireland shocked England in 2011 thanks to Iain O'Brien's century (Getty)

William Porterfield's side will fancy their chances not only against the UAE and Zimbabwe, who are in a perennial downward spiral, but also the West Indies. Jason Holder's side have faced a tumultuous build-up to the tournament, were brushed aside by England in a warm-up match, and meet Ireland in a crucial opening clash.

Victory there, and a quarter-final berth for the Irish is a realistic possibilty.

Comments