Cricket World Cup 2015 tips
Co-hosts Australia are the strong favourites to win the Cricket World Cup, which gets under way on Friday 13th February when New Zealand take on India. The tournament is being shown live on Sky Sports.
Australia have won four of the last seven editions, including three in a row between 1999 and 2007, although their grip on the trophy was broken by India, who beat Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai four years ago to win their second title.
The West Indies, who won the first two World Cups in the 1970s, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also tasted success in what is now a 50-over, one-day format, leaving England, South Africa and Australia's fellow co-hosts New Zealand as the major nations yet to lift the trophy.
Australia look in no mood to let the opportunity to win a fifth title on home soil - the final will be played in Melbourne - slip from their grasp and even at a short price it is hard to pinpoint a better contender in the outright betting. They have displayed a steely determination since the tragic death of batsman Phil Hughes in November, beating India 2-0 in the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy and winning the one-day tri-series against India and England. These results followed on from a convincing 4-1 ODI series win against South Africa.
Their batsmen have been in wonderful form with stand-in captain Steve Smith leading the charge and at 20/1 with Sky Bet Smith looks a decent each-way bet to be the tournament's leading run scorer (1/4 odds for the place - if your player is in the top 5 batsman). After scoring centuries in all four Tests against India, he went on to be Australia’s top scorer in the tri-series, extending a rich vein of form in both formats.
South Africa, who have never reached a final in six attempts - they first entered after the end of the Apartheid era in 1992 - are second favourites at best odds of 7/2 with Stan James, although that 4-1 series defeat to Australia suggests they might need someone else to take the favourites out.
In truth that series was a little closer than the 4-1 scoreline suggests, with Australia winning both the fourth and fifth matches by fine margins. Their status as second favourites reflects the fact that they are currently third in the ICC ODI rankings. India, who are second, should find the conditions Down Under much less to their liking.
India's poor recent results in Australia have caused the bookmakers to push them out to 9/1 chances, with New Zealand rated as the third favourites in the betting at no bigger than 6/1 with Stan James. Alongside South Africa, New Zealand are one of two major cricket nations never to reach a World Cup final.
In 10 attempts the Kiwis have finished third twice, including the last time they were co-hosts in 1992. The ICC rankings indicate they are the sixth best team in the world, albeit virtually on a par with fifth-ranked England. Their preparations have gone well, however, with nine matches over the last five weeks bringing a 4-2 series win over Sri Lanka and a 2-0 win over Pakistan.
Kane Williamson, who smashed almost 400 runs in two Tests against Sri Lanka prior to the one-dayers, also top scored in the limited overs format with an average of 59. He's as short as 11/1 in the Top Batsman betting, but Stan James quote him at 16/1.
England's performances in the tri-series only served to highlight their current inconsistency, with two victories over India coming amongst three defeats to Australia, two of them hefty but one by the finest of margins.
The performances of Ian Bell, who top scored with 247 runs in five matches, was the highlight but he'll do well to carry his erratic team-mates all the way to the final, 23 years after the third of their World Cup final defeats. At a best price of 10/1 with Bet365, Betfred, BetVictor and Coral, England, who have still not moved out of the lingering shadow of the Kevin Pietersen debacle, are probably best avoided.
In between they scored a 5-2 home series win over a lacklustre England, but it's hard to say who that result tells us more about. Sri Lanka are 10/1 across the board.
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