England confirmed their 15-man squad for the ICC cricket World Cup 2019 earlier in the week with Liam Dawson getting the nod ahead of Joe Denly for the back-up spinner’s role which was no great surprise.

Dawson is the superior bowler of the two and that was the key – England bat all the way down to number 11, but if there is an injury or loss of form to either Adil Rashid or Moeen Ali then they will need Dawson to fill the gap. The slow left-armer is likely to carry his fair share of bats, gloves, drinks and towels in the opening weeks, but the tournament is over a marathon six-week period involving the 10 best cricketing nations in the world.

England have never won any of the 11 previous World Cups – beaten finalist three times – but this is, undeniably, the best side England have produced in the period. The batting has power and depth with our very own “Bash Brothers” at the top of the order – Jonny Barstow and Jason Roy – while Test captain Joe Root is key at number three.

Root has the ability to settle the innings if England lose early wicket(s) but also the flexibility to score freely himself if the game dictates. No side in the competition, arguably, has the destructive hitting power of Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Josh Buttler in the middle order but Root is pivotal. England are likely to be bowled out for a below par score at some stage during the tournament – their supporters must hope it is not in the knock-out stages.

When you add home court advantage, two genuine fast bowlers in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood and a world class leg spinner in Rashid, it should come as no surprise to find Eoin Morgan’s side as the 15/8 favourites at BetVictor. The value has long gone on the hosts, however, and it would be no surprise if they were still hovering around 15/8 if they reach the semi-final stage.

 

Tournament format

For the uninitiated, the ten qualifying nations will play each other in a round-robin format before the top four teams meet in the semi-finals. The Final will be played at Lords on July 14, but if the value has gone on England who should we be looking at over the next six weeks?

 

Leading Outsider

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Sri Lanka celebrate the wicket of Aaron Finch of Australia during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Warm Up match between Australia and Sri Lanka at The Hampshire Bowl on May 27, 2019 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

At first glance Sri Lanka look overpriced at 80/1 and their batsmen will find the English pitches much more amenable to the green seamers they faced in South Africa earlier in the year. Sri Lanka have recalled Lahiru Thirimmanne to their squad after a dip in form that lasted well over 12 months. I fondly remember his 139 not out in the last World Cup against England when he and Kumar Sangakkara put on an unbroken stand of 212 for the second wicket as they easily chased down 309.

Sri Lanka will miss the runs of both Sangakkara – 541 runs in the last WC – and Mahela Jayawardena who have both retired since the last World Cup in 2011 but 80/1 is an insult for such a talented side.

 

Pre-tournament selections

 

Outright

India are a strong well-balanced side, but I can’t help but think they missed a trick in not selecting Rishabh Pant who should have made their 15-man squad instead of Dinesh Karthik. Indeed, if India are asked to chase down 300+ I worry about their ability in the middle order especially with MS Dhoni taking an eternity to get going at this stage of his career. Pant is a rare talent although the said can be said about Hardik Pandya who must have a massive World Cup with bat and ball if BetVictor’s 3/1 second favourites are to prevail. Their lack of a world class number 4 might come back to haunt them however.

South Africa at 9/1 don’t travel well enough and Hashim Amla is badly out of form. They are likely to be too dependent on skipper Faf du Plessis and wicketkeeper/batsman Quinton de Kock for runs and the same can be said of the excellent Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir with the ball. It pains me to say it, but this may be one major tournament too far for the Proteas great quick bowler Dale Steyn.

I’ve never been a great fan of Australian skipper Aaron Finch, but I think the Baggy Greens will exorcise the demons of their 2018 annus horribilis and “Sandpapergate” and at 4/1 they are taken to lift the Trophy at Lords on July 14th.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Aaron Finch and David Warner of Australia pump fists during the Cricket World Cup One Day Practice Match between Australia and New Zealand at Allan Border Field on May 06, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

England did beat Australia 4-1 in 2018 in Australia but that was a very tight series and I believe the Baggy Greens are the forgotten side of the tournament. I expect them to improve markedly over the six weeks. Their batting and quick bowling is much vaunted, but Nathan Lyon is the best finger spinner in the tournament and leg spinner Adam Zampa is a potential matchwinner who is improving with experience of the big stage. Let’s not forget that Australia came from two-nil down to beat India in their back yard best-of-five series earlier in the year.

England are worthy favourites but 15/8 is far too short. My final four are England, Australia, India and Sri Lanka – after that who knows?

Tip: Australia

 

Top batsman

I have already backed both Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow and I am slightly surprised that the former is still available at 14/1. England are likely to rotate their squad, especially if they get off to a fast start in the competition, with James Vince waiting in the wings for his opportunity, but Roy and Bairstow (11/1) will feast on the 1st Power Play if the opening bowlers do not find the correct length. With the forecast of good pitches and small boundaries it would not surprise me if one of England’s openers went big – and by big I mean north of 175 in one of the group games.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Jason Roy of England plays a shot during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Warm Up match between England and Australia at Ageas Bowl on May 25, 2019 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Having staked my case for Australia I feel David Warner must be worth a couple of quid each way at 12/1. Yes, he and Steve Smith (18/1) – are going to get it in the neck from the English crowds, but Warner was the leading runscorer in the recent Indian Premier League – 692 runs at an average of 69.2 – and there are many who believe he has returned from his cricketing exile a better player than ever.

If Warner at 12/1 can average nearly 70 in the T20 form of the game in the IPL, then he will be a prized wicket in the 50-over form of the game. He has often been criticised for giving his wicket away after a quick 30 or 40, but he showed a maturity that has not often been the case in India and he is a must for any short-list.

Virat Kohli (15/2 fav) is too short in the betting despite the fact that the rest of the Indian side – Dhoni apart perhaps – may play around their skipper. I just wonder if there will be too much pressure on Kohli.

Tips:

Jason Roy each way ¼ odds

David Warner each way ¼ odds

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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