It's not a traditional sport over here but our Oddschecker sister sites in Australia and the UK are going mad for the Cricket World Cup. We decided that if there's a chance to earn a few dollars then we wanted to hear it.
What a summer of cricket we have in store we have with the World Cup. 2015’s offering was an absolute disaster for England, but the root-and-branch review (where have we heard that phrase before?) following the debacle Down Under has turned a bunch of uncompetitive misfits into the best short-form cricket side in the world.
So, what better place to start this preview than the outright winner market – can England finally clinch their first ever ICC Cricket World Cup?
In my opinion: yes, absolutely.
The balance of this England side is just exceptional, and with home advantage a key factor, they’re correctly favourites to win. A convincing 4-0 series victory against Pakistan leading into the tournament sets Eoin Morgan’s men up nicely – and it’s hard to identify a discernible weakness.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root are consistently outstanding at the top of the order, providing a platform for the destructive hitters—Morgan, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali—to really tee off with reckless abandon.
With the ball, England are just as potent. Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett will make the ball sing in English conditions, while Jofra Archer’s x-factor gives the side yet another exciting dynamic. Moeen and Adil Rashid rarely underperform with the ball, either. England are just so good.
The hosts are a short price at +180, and there’s always a chance of disaster striking in a one-off match, but when they’re on song, the Three Lions are nigh-unbeatable. It’s theirs to lose.
You’ll notice straight away that I’ve not included an England player amongst my top batsman tips. While as a collective England have the strongest batting line-up, their runs are very often shared around, and though Roy and Bairstow in particular have shown brilliant form leading up to the tournament, it’s actually skipper Eoin Morgan who has plundered the most runs in 2019.
I’ve also omitted favourite Virat Kohli, simply because in a market this big, +650 doesn’t seem particularly great value. There’s every chance Kohli and a number of England players will be in the upper echelons of the run table, but there’s more each-way value elsewhere.
My first tip for top batsman is David Warner, +1100, and it’s one I’m pretty confident about. We all know about last year’s sandpaper-related antics and his subsequent ban, but Warner’s return to the crease in the spring—for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL (I appreciate it’s a different format, but that doesn’t detract anything)—was sensational. The Australian opener scored 692 runs in 12 innings, averaging 69.20, comfortably finishing the tournament as top run scorer, despite batting fewer times than the next eight on the list.
It was clear the break from cricket did Warner absolutely no harm whatsoever, and the devastating form he’s shown in the last few months makes him my favourite to end the tournament with the most runs under his belt.
South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock is also a nice long shot bet at +1800. Like Warner, de Kock had a brilliant IPL—ending the tournament as the third-highest run scorer—and averages 58.62 in ODIs this year, striking at an eye-watering 111.13.
At the age of just 26, de Kock is already South Africa’s 11th-highest ODI run-scorer in history, and I expect him to continue improving.
For my final top batsman pick, I’ve gone for West Indian Shai Hope – priced at an incredibly generous +2500.
Though Chris Gayle is still Windies’ superstar, Hope is their best player. The 25-year-old has scored 568 runs in nine innings this year—averaging 65 with a strike-rate of 93.90—which has seen his overall ODI average rise to 51.06. This follows-on from a wonderful 2018 ODI campaign, where he struck 875 runs in 18 innings, averaging 67.30.
The West Indies are always a wildcard, and if they do perform during the World Cup, it’s likely Hope will be the main man.
Honourable mentions: Babar Azam, Ross Taylor, Rohit Sharma.
David Warner - Top Batsman @ +1100
One-Day cricket can be a pretty unforgiving arena for bowlers, but for my money, more matches are won with the ball than with the bat. I have four picks for the top bowler market, all of which are cracking each-way value.
First up is Australian seamer Pat Cummins, +1600, who has been nothing short of sensational so far this year. Of course, England know all about how devastating Cummins can be—the ability to make the most of swing-friendly English conditions whilst maintaining an express pace is always a killer combo—and he’ll be a threat throughout the tournament.
With 17 wickets in just six matches this calendar year, going at a staggeringly impressive 4.39 while averaging 14.29, Cummins has been the world’s most effective ODI bowler since the turn of the year; a definite contender in this market.
Still only 20 years old, Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, +1600, is rightly viewed as one of the world’s very best. After ending last year as the leading ODI wicket-taker on the planet—narrowly edging out Kuldeep Yadav, who we’ll touch on a little later—Khan, who has primarily played T20 cricket this year, possesses a deadly mix of a low economy and ever-present wicket-taking potential. Khan’s outstanding performances for Sussex last season is evidence that his leg-spin is mightily effective in English conditions – as if we need reminding.
While Cummins and Khan are two of the shorter-priced bowlers in this market, my next two picks both present delicious value.
Chris Woakes’ five-fer in England’s final ODI against Pakistan was a timely reminder of the devastation he can cause when bowling with the new ball.
Pakistan’s top order had no answers to Woakes’ skilful swing bowling, and +1800 does look a little insulting for the 30-year-old to finish as the top wicket-taker on home soil. The threat of rotation probably plays a part—with Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood and Jofra Archer also battling for places—but Woakes’ new ball expertise makes him a very tough man to leave out.
And finally the Coup de grâce: Kuldeep Yadav, the Indian left-arm wrist-spinner, for best bowler – priced at a frankly ridiculous +2000 in some places.
Kuldeep certainly made a splash in England last year, taking six wickets in the first ODI between India and the Three Lions (particularly impressive because he dismissed five of England’s top six), and he’s certainly not slowed up since.
Finishing as 2018’s second-highest ODI wicket-taker (with 45)—behind the aforementioned Rashid Khan—averaging just 17.77 is pretty special, and only New Zealand quickie Trent Boult has taken more wickets than him in 2019.
India’s probably have the best attack in the tournament—with Bhuveneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Shami all world class operators—but for me, Kuldeep is still the pick of them. Well worth backing at 33s.
Honourable mentions: Adam Zampa, Kagiso Rabada, Trent Boult.
Pat Cummins - Top Bowler @ +1600