Australia are historically the most successful cricketing side at the World Cup, having won the competition no less than four times. However, after Ricky Ponting’s side were comfortably beaten by five wickets in the quarterfinals by India there will be a new name on the 2011 trophy.
Over the years the finals have produced some fantastic cricket, but they have tended not to go down to the wire. The tightest final in recent tournaments was in 1987 between the old enemies England and Australia. The Aussies ended up winning by just seven runs, after England fell short of chasing a target of 253.
The largest winning margin since 1987 was eight years ago as the Aussies beat India by 125 runs. Spread bettors already looking ahead to the final this Saturday will be interested to find that the average winning margin is 59.5 points for the market.
The highest total posted by a side at a World Cup final in the past 24 years is 259 runs in 2003. That year Australia opened the batting against India and posted the huge score. The lowest total recorded in that period was 132 by Pakistan, which Australia easily chased to win by eight wickets.
The average runs total during World Cup cricket finals since 1987 is 234.5 runs.
Kevin O’Brien isn’t a name that England fans will forget in a hurry, as much as they will want to. The Irishman’s 113-run assault at Bangalore on Wednesday helped cause one of the greatest shocks of all time in international cricket as the Three Lions once again had their inadequacies well and truly highlighted by supposedly inferior opponents.
There is important work for Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower to do in the build-up to their showdown with South Africa and if their quarter-final qualification hopes are already in the balance, then defeat against the Proteas could tip the scales.
The most obvious problem is the number of runs the Three Lions have haemorrhaged in their group games. They have conceded 959 and 621 of those have come against Netherlands and Ireland – two sides not good enough to cut the mustard at Test level.
Can England stop the rot against one of the most fearsome batting line-ups in the competition? Expect a quote of around mid-270s for South Africa runs if they bat first.
Just before the World Cup began I looked at England’s spread markets, and despite going unbeaten in their opening two group games, Sporting Index have revised their quote on the Three Lions in the outright market, moving them from 19-22 to 17-20.
Next up is the derby against Ireland and England will know they cannot take the threat posed by William Porterfield’s side lightly having already been run close by another Associate nation. Their slim margin of victory against Netherlands will make supremacy buyers wary, but this must be weighed-up against matching India’s huge total on Sunday.
Andrew Strauss looked in great nick then and his hefty knock of 158 against the hosts puts him at the head of the tournament batting charts with a total of 246 runs and an average of 123.00. Tim Bresnan is England’s leading wicket taker in the competition and he will be looking to carry on from where he left off after ending with figures of 5/48 against India.
The Irish came up short in their only game so far against Bangladesh, but not before looking like they would give the Tigers a good run for their money, as wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien top-scored with 38, one more than his brother Kevin.
Young George Dockrell displayed his talents in that game with two wickets and England will be keeping a close eye on him for another reason – the 18-year-old spinner has said in the build-up to this game that he is considering pursuing a career with the English Test side.
On the eve of the tenth installment of the cricket World Cup, England’s fifty over form will have the Barmy Army worried and punters wondering if it’s all going to go as badly as some are predicting, or whether there’s actually a chance to make a few quid.
Sporting Index have set England’s outright index at 19-22 (60-40-20-10-0). So, according to them at least, the Three Lions can be expected to reach the semi-finals before bowing out.
The traders look to have played it pretty safe here. Andrew Strauss’ men will anticipate getting through the group stage with the top four advancing and India, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands for company.
Once it gets to the quarters – assuming England don’t fall at the first hurdle – their finishing position is going to depend very much on which team turns up, and whether their injuries have cleared up. If they can emulate the achievements of the 20 over boys who claimed the country’s maiden international trophy with the World Twenty20 last year – or that of the Test squad which retained the Ashes this winter – then they will be laughing. On the other hand, play like they just did in the one day series against Australia when they were walloped 6-1 and they could be in all sorts of trouble.