As mentioned a few posts back, it’s a big summer for cricket. There’s the World Cup, and the Ashes, both of which take place in England.
The World Cup uses the ODI — one day international — format. That is: one team has 50 overs — 300 deliveries — or ten wickets (outs) (whichever comes first) to score has many runs as possible. Then the teams switch and the other team has 50 overs or 10 wickets to best that score. The games take, you guessed it, about a day, or about 6-8 hours depending on if both sides use their full allotment of overs.
The best ODI team right now — using the ICC’s rankings — is England. Followed by India and New Zealand. These three are, more or less, the favorites. The reigning champions, Australia, are ranked a distant 6th, but, annoyingly, you really can never count them out of an ODI World Cup.
Format wise, it’s something of a joke among cricket pundits, but it shouldn’t be so bad. It’s a single group of ten teams in the opening stage, with each team playing every team once. The top four teams then advance to the semi-finals, with the winners of those matches playing each other in the final at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on 14 July at 4:30 a.m. central time. Mark your calendars. (The first match is at the Oval on 31 May. That’s right, the tournament lasts for six — SIX — weeks.)
Other than the hosts, England, and other three squads mentioned above, the tournament features South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the West Indies. My guess for the semi-finals right now is England, New Zealand, India and South Africa, in that order. England will lose their semi, New Zealand will win theirs and then beat South Africa to lift the trophy. You heard it hear first.
There are some upcoming ODIs to keep an eye on as we move toward May: Australia play India in three ODIs starting on Friday, South Africa host Pakistan for five ODIs starting on 19 Jan., and England are in Caribbean for five ODIs against the West Indies, with the first one set for Feb. 20 in Bridgetown.
And then there’s the highlight series: New Zealand in India for their own set of five ODIs starting 22 Jan.
We will learn a lot over the next few weeks. Can England continue their strong run of form and beat up on weaker opposition? Can New Zealand win in unfamiliar conditions? Are Pakistan and South Africa good enough for the knockouts? What about India? Should they — and not the hosts — be the real favorites? Is Australia really in shambles, or are they just hiding in the tall grass?
We won’t get definitive answers to those questions, or course, but we will get close, and have a lot of fun along the way.
South Africa v Pakistan, Australia v India and West Indies v England are available for viewing in the States on Willow.TV, while India v New Zealand is on ESPN+ (formerly ESPN3).
At this point, I don’t know who is broadcasting the World Cup in the US. When I know, you’ll know.
Tomorrow: looking ahead to the Ashes. Until then.