Cricket World Cup bluffer’s guide

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Let’s start at the beginning – the World Cup of one day international men’s cricket begins next week in England and Wales. They play it every four years – the last one was here and in Australia, when we made the final for the first time and everyone went a bit loopy.

England is a fantastic place to hold it, ‘cos it’s the Home of Cricket. The grounds are small-ish, games usually all sell out, and the migrant population, especially from Asia, means lots of teams get virtual home crowds.

You’re going to hear a lot of chat about Big Totals. Big hitting Twenty20 cricket is still changing the game – 300 was an astonishing score back in the 80s, but now it’s considered just par. Teams are regularly going over 400 now and there’s talk 500 could be next. This is all great if you’re a batsman with your punishing slab of willow and chewing gum and that, but luckily for the guys serving it up, England has some of most bowler-friendly conditions going so we may see more of a proper contest between bat and ball. 

Because cricket goes all day, the tournaments tend take ages – it starts next week and the final’s not til 14 July. This time there are just ten teams, meaning up and coming cricket nations like Ireland have missed out just when they’re getting some momentum, which is a bit shit. Anyway, all the teams play each other once, then there are semi finals and the final, which is a much neater format than we’ve had in the past.

The favourites are England, India and Australia, with the West Indies, us and Pakistan next. Then there’s South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – here’s a selection of how they’ll go: 

New Zealand
We’re coming in much more low-key, with a new coach and captain since last time. We’ve got fantastic batsmen in Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls, but we’ll need Martin Guptill at the top and one or more of Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme or Mitchell Santner to go really fast if we’re going to go over 400. Our bowling attack is as good as anyone’s, and should get some help from the conditions. People will call us dark horses a lot, and there’s no pressure on us – I’m biased but I like our chances, let’s see how we go.  

This is probably their best ever chance to win it, at home and in white hot form. They’ve learned a lot of tricks from us about playing without fear and are stacked with massive-hitting batsmen like Jonny Bairstow, Joss Buttler and Jason Roy. Their challenge will be handling the favourites tag and the never-ending stream of ex-players lining up in the press to tell them how they’re going.

They were a bit shit for a while there but, disappointingly, seem to be coming right. Old mates Steve Smith and David Warner are back from the dog house and they’ll be better for it. They’re still a really strong team but the sand-paper schmozzle has opened the door to doubt like we haven’t seen from this unpleasant lot in some time. Could win it, could crash and burn.

Probably the best group of players with the best batsman in the world in Virat Kohli, at the peak of his powers, with some of the most imaginative and effective bowling attacks to call on. Like Guinness, they often don’t travel well and will be under pressure to win it. Whoever wins will have to beat them at some stage.

Get around the BLACKCAPS on Instagram and Twitter, and follow some of the players for the behind the scenes carry-on, starting with Jimmy Neesham’s Twitter.  

This one’s all SKY, who are taking every match including warm ups, you can see the times and channels here. Check in with the ICC website when the tournament’s underway for highlights. In NZ, most of these games start at around 9.30, so you can take in the first 15-20 overs, have some kip and get up early for the end. 

Spend the world cup on your phone missing the action
Cricket’s actually good for using two screens at once ‘cos there’s natural breaks in play, so make sure you install the NZC app, Cricinfothe official ICC Cricket World Cup app and Stick Cricket for any rain breaks. 

Bonus world cup content
Mark Geenty talks to Geoff Allott, who was the leading wicket taker in the 1999 world cup, the last time it was played in England [Stuff] 

Alex Braae has a crack at picking the winner [The Spinoff]

With talk of someone going over 500 at this world cup, Dylan Cleaver has the willies about our run rates lately [NZ Herald] 

Author: Richard Irvine

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