The Cricket World Cup will provide one of the key moments of this summer’s sporting calendar.
Here, Press Association Sport Cricket Correspondent Rory Dollard takes a closer look at the competition.
When and where will the tournament take place?
The World Cup is back in England and Wales for the first time since 1999, with
the ECB hosting for the fifth occasion in all. As for venues, early suggestions
that the London Stadium could be used fell away and instead 11 traditional
cricket grounds will be utilised. They are: Lord’s, the Oval, Edgbaston,
Headingley, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge, the Rose Bowl, Chester-le-Street,
Cardiff, Bristol and Taunton.
Who is involved?
The International Cricket Council courted controversy when it decided to
decrease the game’s global showcase from 14 teams, as per the last two
tournaments, to 10. As hosts, England were handed their spot automatically, with the next seven slots awarded in line with the world rankings as of September 2017. That left just two more places to scrap for, with Afghanistan and the West Indies coming through the 2018 qualifying tournament.
So who missed out?
The rest of the world’s cricketing nations, basically. Zimbabwe are missing for
the first time since 1983, while Ireland – responsible for memorable
giant-killing feats against Pakistan and England in previous editions – were
also squeezed. Scotland will consider themselves most unlucky of all though,
denied by a woeful lbw decision in the qualifier that would have edged them
ahead of the Windies had the correct decision been made.
What is the format?
The precise structure of the cricket World Cup has always been open to
tinkering and the version in place on this occasion is one of the more
straightforward, though it does feel somewhat bloated. All 10 sides will compete in a round-robin group stage comprising 45 fixtures. The top four will then advance to semi-finals at Old Trafford and Edgbaston before the Lord’s final on July 14.
Who are the favourites?
Despite never winning the trophy before, home advantage and world number one status makes Eoin Morgan’s England side the team to beat with most pundits and all bookmakers. India are considered the next strongest squad in the betting markets, but Australia have made a late surge following an upturn in form and the return of banned duo David Warner and Steve Smith. Pakistan go in as Champions Trophy winners in England two years ago, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are considered rank outsiders.
Will there be controversy?
There was much sabre-rattling between India and Pakistan several months ago, fuelled by ongoing political instability between the nations, and much talk of the scheduled match between the teams being boycotted. The Board of Control for Cricket in India even appeared to be pushing for Pakistan’s expulsion at one stage. Tensions appear to have calmed but do not be surprised if there is another flare.