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.
Cricket World Cup 2015: 10 young players to watch
Cricket World Cup 2015: 10 young players to watch
1/10 Usman Ghani, 18, Afghanistan
At just over 18 years old, Ghani is the youngest player at the tournament, but the attacking opener already has an ODI century to his name. If the Aghans are to spring a shock, much will depend on him getting them off to a good start.
2/10 Pat Cummins, 21, Australia
With his wonderful action and searing pace, Cummins burst onto the scene when he took seven wickets as an 18-year-old Test debutant against South Africa. Terrible injuries have prevented him from adding to his solitary Test cap, but now the stage is set for Cummins to re-establish himself as one of cricket's hottest talents.
3/10 Mominul Haque, 23, Bangladesh
A compact left-handed batsman, Haque will occupy the No.3 spot in the Bangladeshi batting order. He has already made 24 ODI appearances, but thus far has enjoyed more success in the longer format - in 12 Test appearances he has plundered almost 1200 runs at 63.05, with four centuries.
4/10 Jos Buttler, 24, England
One of the genuine box-office talents in the England squad, Buttler's 121 against Sri Lanka last summer was the most eye-catching innings of the season. His keeping needs work, but as a mid- to lower-order batsman he has the talent to change the course of a game in the blink of the eye.
5/10 Akshar Patel, 21, India
One of the few positives of India's disastrous recent Tri-Series with Australia and England was the consistency of Patel, who was miserly and probing with his tight left-arm spin. He enjoyed a superb 2014 IPL season with 16 wickets and an economy rate of just 6.22 for Kings XI Punjab.
6/10 George Dockrell, 22, Ireland
Despite having been a mainstay of the Ireland side since his debut in 2010, and with four county seasons at Somerset under his belt, Dockrell is still only 22. The canny spinner was named the ICC Associate Player of the Year in 2012, and he has been touted to follow Eoin Morgan into England colours.
7/10 Kane Williamson, 24, New Zealand
Williamson is the most consistent performer in a dangerous New Zealand batting line-up, his devastating recent form in all forms of cricket cementing his reputation as one of the most exciting, talented batsmen in world cricket. Having recently had his action cleared, he can now resume bowling his useful off-spin.
8/10 Ahmed Shehzad, 23, Pakistan
Despite his tender age, Shehzad boasts a wealth of experience, with over 50 ODI appearances and six centuries to his name. More of a classical, patient opener than a David Warner-esque pinch-hitter, he will lay the foundation from which Pakistan's big-hitting middle order can tee off.
9/10 Quinton de Kock, 22, South Africa
Since making his debut just after his 20th birthday, De Kock has been an aggressive, punchy performer at the top of the South African order, plundering six hundreds in just 36 matches. A tidy gloveman, who by taking over keeping duties has allowed AB De Villiers to focus on his batting, to devastating effect.
10/10 Tendai Chatara, 23, Zimbabwe
An athletic opening bowler with a curious, idiosyncratic action, Chatara takes the ball away from the right-hander at decent pace and is Zimbabwe's key strike bowler. His maiden Test five-wicket haul set up a famous victory over Pakistan in 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.Reuse content