Cricket World Cup 2019 predictions: England, David Warner and Jasprit Bumrah to emerge winners
The National's staff forecasts winners, best batters, best bowlers, surprises and disappointments at the tournament that gets under way on May 30
Who will be the winner?
Paul Radley, sports reporter: WEST INDIES. In February 2018, Jason Holder said it was about time West Indies added to their two World Cup titles. They had yet to even qualify for this competition at that point. They only managed that by the skin of their teeth, and they have gone five years without winning an ODI series – a run of 19 series. But it’s Chris Gayle’s swansong. Holder is the world’s best allrounder. Shai Hope is mint. It’s going to happen.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil, assistant sports editor: AUSTRALIA. Recent ODI series victories against India and Pakistan had already given the five-time champions a timely confidence boost before the previously suspended Steve Smith and David Warner were due to return. Having served out their year-long suspensions for ball-tampering, the duo will be on a mission to resurrect a wounded nation’s cricketing prestige, not to mention theirs. Josh Hazlewood’s absence will be felt, but they have enough bowlers to do the job.
Graham Caygill: sports editor: AUSTRALIA. Know how to win big tournaments and will be boosted by the returns of David Warner and Steve Smith. Can bat big big and also take wickets so very good chance of the defending champions retaining.
Nick March, assistant editor in chief: INDIA. The two-time world champions, including a famous victory against West Indies at Lord’s in 1983, are blessed with talent throughout the side including the top-two rated batsmen in the world, three of the top ten bowlers and an embarrassment of riches at wicket-keeper. They were badly beaten in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval. They won’t slip up this time.
Stephen Nelmes, homepage editor: INDIA. Other than England, they seem to have all bases covered. Their batting is stronger and the most consistent. They have enough depth and variation in the bowling department and Virat Kohli will marshall them well in the field. England have a poor innings in them somewhere in the tournament and their bowling already looks too shaky.
Ian Oxborrow, homepage editor: ENGLAND. Have they ever had a better chance (apart from 1992)? The number one ranked team in the world have it all - explosive batting right through the order as well as canny operators in Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, an experienced bowling line up, and above all else they have home advantage. And we all know how many international sides struggle in English conditions.
Amith Passela, sports reporter: AUSTRALIA. They have history and momentum on their side. Their squad has the right balance of competitiveness and confidence. The most successful side in the competition's history head to England having won eight games on the trot, rallying from 2-0 down to beat India 3-2 followed by a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the UAE.
Chris Whiteoak, staff photographer: ENGLAND. They bat so deep it should blow away most teams. With this England side, the toss never feels crucial as they love to chase and with the batting. They have 10 potential bowling options in the squad, and that doesn't include the potential inclusion Jofra Archer, giving England the X-factor. Their ability to bring in James Vince for Alex Hales shows the depth of English cricket. Holding their nerve in the big games will be the key.
Which two sides will be in the final?
Paul Radley: West Indies v India
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: Australia v India
Graham Caygill: Australia v India
Nick March: Pakistan v India
Stephen Nelmes: England v India
Ian Oxborrow: England v India
Amith Passela: Australia v England
Chris Whiteoak: England v Pakistan
Who will be player of the tournament?
Paul Radley: SHAI HOPE (West Indies). Fastest West Indian to 2,000 ODI runs, ahead of Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle. Five centuries within the space of 13 innings. And good in England, too.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: DAVID WARNER (Australia). He is one of the world’s best batsmen and fielders, is in excellent form and seems determined to make up for last year’s ball-tampering scandal.
Graham Caygill: DAVID WARNER (Australia). It feels as if it is written in the stars. Twelve months ago in disgrace over the ball-tampering scandal, Warner can bludgeon his side to World Cup glory to begin his redemption arc.
Nick March: JASPRIT BUMRAH (India). Bowlers and all-rounders tend to take this crown, only two batsmen have ever won this award and none since 2003. My hunch is that it will be Bumrah in 2019. The Indian bowler is top of the world rankings and with good reason.
Stephen Nelmes: JASPRIT BUMRAH (India). The Indian quick will enjoy the English conditions more than any one else at the tournament.
Ian Oxborrow: BEN STOKES (England). Having put his off-field troubles behind him and with the home crowd roaring the all-rounder on, expect him to come out fighting. He hasn't been setting the IPL alight, but 50-overs under leaden skies is a different matter.
Amith Passela: DAVID WARNER (Australia). Has returned from a one-year ban for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa with a point to prove and if he maintains his IPL form he could be a very dangerous force for the other sides to handle.
Chris Whiteoak: JOS BUTTLER (England). One of the most feared batsmen in cricket. With a strike rate of 118.34 at No 6 he can quickly take the game away from any team, even if the opposition grabs early wickets.
Who will score the most runs?
Paul Radley: DAVID WARNER (Australia). A man on a mission, as proven by his relentless return to big match action at the Indian Premier League. Even if he doesn’t open the batting.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: DAVID WARNER (Australia). Expect a chippy Warner to channel all the hate he gets from English fans to his advantage. A lukewarm batting record in England will not matter to the left-hander.
Nick March: DAVID WARNER (Australia). He has been in superb form in this year’s IPL and is a master of all formats. He will be given a hard time by the English crowds, but Warner will thrive in the adversity of a Northern Hemisphere summer.
Graham Caygill: JASON ROY (England). The England opener will score big on three or four occasions and will ensure his side have the best run in the tournament since 1992.
Stephen Nelmes: JASON ROY (England). It could be anyone from the England camp, but the opener will score a hatful of runs at a rate of knots.
Ian Oxborrow: CHRIS GAYLE (West Indies). Expect the big man to go out with a bang with this being his last ODI involvement with the West Indies. Capable of scoring as many runs in one innings as some frontline batsmen score in a whole series.
Amith Passela: JOE ROOT (England). The England top order batsman can take advantage of home conditions to contribute loats of runs for his team with his stroke play and ability to set himself for the long haul in the middle.
Chris Whiteoak: DAVID WARNER (Australia). The bull is charging in the IPL and he has never feared coming to England. With an ODI average of 43.43 Warner is likely looking to win back the Australian public.
Who will take the most wickets?
Paul Radley: YUZVENDRA CHAHAL (India). India have a formidable bowling attack, with pacers who will prove difficult to repel. But conditions could well favour Chahal’s spin, too. Expect him to profit.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: KAGISO RABADA (South Africa). The 23-year-old has already taken 300 international wickets, including 106 in ODIs, making him the world’s best paceman. He has the pace, aggression, smarts and form to make a difference – provided he stays fit.
Graham Caygill: PAT CUMMINS (Australia). Australia’s key paceman can make the difference here and has the knack of taking key wickets at vital times.
Nick March: JASPRIT BUMRAH (India). Bumrah, see above. He was half fit last time he toured England, not so this year. He has been in good nick in IPL 2019 and I am expecting his form to be even better in June and July.
Stephen Nelmes: JASPRIT BUMRAH (India). There's been a lot of rain around the UK early in the season, so a spinner won't define the tournament. Bumrah should get his wickets in clumps.
Ian Oxborrow: ADIL RASHID (England). Don't expect him to run through teams, but he's capable of chipping in with a few wickets in each game as batsmen look to dispatch his leg-breaks over the boundary.
Amith Passela: PAT CUMMINS (Australia). Being a member of the winning 2015 Australian World Cup team, Cummins brings in vital experience to the bowling department. Has the ability to win a match in one spell when he is firing on all cylinders.
Chris Whiteoak: HASAN ALI (Pakistan). Shone in the PSL 2019, finishing as the highest wicket taker with 16 wickets at an average of 9.25. His variations will provide useful on the different pitches in England.
Who will be the surprise package?
Paul Radley: WEST INDIES. Granted, backing them to win the whole thing is a bit spacey. They are ranked ninth – so second lowest – ahead of the competition. Their long-term form has been woeful. And they haven’t been a force in the format since the 1990s. But any team that leaves John Campbell on the bench, has young jets like Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas, a rock like Shai Hope, and not to mention the Universe Boss, is going to be good to watch.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: WEST INDIES. It is a team packed with young and exciting players (captain Jason Holder, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer) and experienced veterans (Chris Gayle and the in-form Andre Russell). The last of their two World Cup wins came in England in 1979 – the year Gayle was born – and victory will be the best way to send off the retiring batsman and revive the team’s fortunes.
Graham Caygill: PAKISTAN. Easy to write them off when they have had a series of indifferent results in the warm-up. But Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men can get big totals and their bowlers, when they have their tails up, can be a real handful.
Nick March: PAKISTAN. Ranked sixth in the world, but they won the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England, overcoming both India and the hosts on the way, proving they can play well against the best in difficult conditions. Two decades ago, a Pakistan team of colossal talent made their way to the final at Lord’s before being trounced by Australia. I am expecting Mickey Arthur’s side to fare well this time out.
Stephen Nelmes: AUSTRALIA. The World Cup holders have been terrible in one-day cricket for the past two years, but everything will click into gear again when the green and gold get down to business. They're more than well equipped in the bowling department, but will get blown away by a high-powered batting force.
Ian Oxborrow: NEW ZEALAND. Ranked fourth in the world and have the second best bowler (Trent Boult) and third best batsman (Ross Taylor) and are capable of playing explosive cricket. Plus they have plenty of experience with Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson in the top order.
Amith Passela: PAKISTAN. It’s hard to imagine Pakistan winning the World Cup but they certainly can create a few shocks in the competition. On their day, they can produce a champion form and in the same way, can be also be equally terrible on another day.
Chris Whiteoak: WEST INDIES. They possess a lot of fire power and are ready to prove it to the rest of the world. John Campbell and Shai Hope showed just how good by scoring an ODI world-record opening stand of 365 against Ireland. Andre Russell is also in the form of his life, with an average of 56.67 in this year’s IPL.
Who will be the disappointment?
Paul Radley: ENGLAND. A classy, steely-eyed captain. Firepower all through the batting order. A seamless run of form in the lead up to the competition. A neat balance between batting, pace bowling, spin bowling, youth, and experience. Home support. But, it’s a World Cup. It is almost guaranteed to end in tears. Semi-final heartache feels nailed on.
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: ENGLAND. The No ODI team in the world are also hosting the competition for the first time in 20 years, and not having won the title before means there will be more pressure on Eoin Morgan’s men. There is a feeling they may have peaked too early and, even though a semi-final spot is almost certain, they will likely crack under pressure and lose – an outcome most disappointing for home fans.
Graham Caygill: ENGLAND. Only because of the great expectations on them to win. Considering where they were in 2015 they have come on massively. But the bowling attack still leaks too many runs and the hosts can’t expect to score 350-370 per match just to be in the hunt.
Nick March: ENGLAND. They have been in superb form for most of the four years since a disastrous 2015 World Cup and have set new standards for the one-day game. That said, the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy semi-final defeat shows they can be unpicked and they may feel overly burdened by expectations. The Alex Hales suspension, among other distractions, has hardly helped their preparations, either.
Stephen Nelmes: ENGLAND. Anything other than a win will be a disaster for the hosts. They've spent the four intervening years between World Cups to finally etch their name on the trophy at the expense of everything else.
Ian Oxborrow: AUSTRALIA. This is a far from classic Aussie side despite beating Pakistan 5-0 and India 3-2 in March. Steve Smith and David Warner will feel the full force of an unforgiving English crowd.
Amith Passela: INDIA. The expectations, as always, are sky high for India. Any blemish on their performance can ring the panic button, bringing their own game down. They certainly are one of the favourites but may come short in handling the pressure and the English conditions.
Chris Whiteoak: SRI LANKA. Having won only one ODI since a very disappointing Asia cup in the UAE last September, they are going to have to fight very hard to not end up bottom of the table. They will have to rely heavily on runs from Kusal Mendis and wickets from Lasith Malinga to drag them through.
What will be the tournament talking point?
Paul Radley: Sorry to be a curmudgeon, but at some point over the six weeks of everyone is going to get World Cup fatigue, brought on by the fact each of the 10 teams plays nine (!) group matches each. There will be no Nepal to break the monotony. No Kevin O’Brien. No Mohammed Naveed or Rameez Shahzad, Safyaan Sharif or Calum Macleod. Just the same faces we see all the time in between World Cups. Sure, there will be some excellence from the likes of Virat Kohli, Warner, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow. But what good will it be if the only people that serves to inspire are the same old crowd?
Chitrabhanu Kadalayil: The World Cup is already under the scanner for its format and duration. Despite controversially downsizing the tournament to include just 10 teams for the first time since 1992, it will go on for two and a half months. Worse, having fewer teams effectively shut the door on exciting sides from the Associate Nations, such as the UAE, reducing the chance of an upset. The format has thus helped avoid an early exit for the likes of India, assuring the ICC of television revenue.
Graham Caygill: The daft decision to get rid of the group stages and instead have one big one with 45 matches. It means it will take a while for the tournament to get going as results begin to mean something, with no immediacy. There is also a danger if the top four become apparent early on that there will be lots of meaningless games before the semi-final stages.
Nick March: Let’s hope it’s not the vagaries of the English weather. If it’s not, I expect format will dominate the conversation. This year’s competition is as long as the 2007 edition in the West Indies, albeit without quite the convoluted scheduling that played out in the Caribbean. But, the current single-group tournament looks bloated and there may be far too many meaningless matches along the way in a competition now also devoid of associate nations, who have traditionally provided charm and the odd shock in previous World Cups.
Stephen Nelmes: Why there isn't a plethora of Associate members in the tournament causing shocks and taking a big scalp or two. Cricket remains the only sport that actively seeks to contract its marquee tournaments rather than look to expand. The event's format will go on for too long without feeling like any progress is being made.
Ian Oxborrow: Hopefully the good behaviour of the players and all of those involved. Cricket's reputation has been tarnished in recent years with its well-publicised match-fixing problems and ball tampering. There's also been too many incidents of players crossing the line when it comes to sledging. Playing at the home of cricket will hopefully inspire those taking part to upkeep the spirit of the game.
Amith Passela: Australia’s resurgence from the ball-tampering scandal and the potentially key roles of the two players involved – Steven Smith and David Warner. The two batsmen will have something to prove to the cricketing world as they aspire to be remembered for their roles in the World Cup rather than the humiliation that rocked Australia cricket on their tour to South Africa on March 2018.
Chris Whiteoak: That there are only 10 teams in the World Cup. Associate cricket is getting so much stronger, conveyed by teams like USA and Papua New Guinea gaining ODI status even though cricket is far from mainstream. Ireland, Scotland and Zimbabwe have a lot of quality cricketers that have the potential to causes upsets, as we saw when Scotland beat England in Edinburgh last year.
Updated: May 21, 2019 10:48 AM