Since 1992 when Ian Botham and Alec Stewart carried England to the final, there have been numerous disappointments for England when it comes to the Cricket World Cup.
But this summer there has never been a better chance to right the wrongs of previous years and erase the memories of humiliation against Ireland and Bangladesh.
England come into the tournament off the back of a 4-0 series thrashing of Pakistan on home soil and have been made 15/8 favourites to win the tournament. Throughout the side, England possess quality. With the bat, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, and Jos Butler can be bracketed as World class while the bowling line-up of Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes has the ability to do some serious damage. England have plenty of potential matchwinners.
The competitiveness of this side and the steely determination to chase down big totals of more than 350 over the last few years proves how impressive really is this side is. Eoin Morgan has guided the team beautifully over the last four years and this is his time to shine in a team that appears to have it all. At 15/8, this doesn’t feel a very backable price and with the pressure of the tournament being on home soil and it being theirs to lose, I’ll be opting against backing the Three Lions this summer.
The Windies won the first two renewals of the Cricket World Cup and despite not having the quality that they possessed around the 70s and 80s, they look the each-way punt for the outright winner.
At first glance, the form of the West Indian team is nothing to write home about but with the firepower of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Shai hope they could well go far into the tournament. Gayle in fact averages 106 with the bat this year and if Andre Russell can convert some of his IPL form to international level, they well could outperform their odds.
With the ball, Shannon Gabriel and captain Jason Holder can make a real difference. After the West Indies claimed a 2-2 draw in a winter ODI series with England earlier in the year I’d be more than happy to have them onside here. At 16/1, with bookmakers paying ½ odds each way if we’d be looking at a healthy payout were Holder’s side to reach the final.
When looking at the top runscorer market, it’s worth noting that four of the last five winners have been opening batsman. If the trend continues it would rule out favourite Virat Kohli and English talisman Joe Root. On home soil, Jonny Bairstow averages a consistent 58 which is considerably better than their other opening batsman Jason Roy. This summer could really establish Bairstow as one of the superstars of the game and at 11/1 and bookies paying four places each way, this could be absolute each-way filth!
When it comes to who will be the leading wicket-taker in the tournament there’s certainly value to be nibbled at with the favourite Indian’s fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah being as big as 14/1 in places.
India are expected to go deep into the tournament and in my opinion have the best bowling attack. However, it’s away from Bumrah where I’ve found my selection in the form of left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav at an attractive 25/1. Finishing 2018 as the second highest wicket-taker in one-day cricket Yadav ticks all the boxes and he could be a key player for India away from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
One other player who I cannot get away from in this market is England’s Jofra Archer. Yes, he may have only played in three ODIs for England but he could be a very special talent. Born in Barbados, Archer only became eligible to play for England in March after the England and Wales cricket board changed their qualification criteria. He’s a young man who can comfortably bowl at speeds over 90mph and has been tipped by many to be the next big thing in English cricket. Priced at 16/1, each way with four places available, yes it is a bit of a shot in the dark on a player with relatively little international experience, however, If Archer can live up to the hype surrounding him we could be in line for something very special for years to come.