The ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup gets underway on Thursday, with host England taking on 2015 semifinalists South Africa in the opener at The Oval in London. But this year, England, who have never won the cup despite being the country that invented the game as The Telegraph recounts, open the tournament not only as the top-ranked 50-overs team in the world but as tournament favorites according to most oddsmakers.
At the same time, the defending — and five-time — Cricket World Cup champions, Australia, have only the third most favorable odds heading into the 2019 competition, according to Gambling Sites. Despite the return of captain and vice-captain Steve Smith and David Warner from a year-long suspension over ball-tampering allegations just in time for the World Cup, the team that has won four of the last five trophies comes in at 5-1 odds to win yet another.
England, on the other hand, enjoy 3-1 odds to win the tournament, which has been scaled back to 10 teams from the 14 who competed in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to missing Smith and Warner for the past year, Australia has also been hit by injury woes, in particular to their top fast bowler Mitchell Starc who has missed four months already this year, according to The Australian.
Starc was named the Player of the Tournament in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, taking 22 wickets in the competition including three in the final against New Zealand, as Cricket.com recounted. But Starc’s bowling averages have declined sharply over the past year.
In fact, cricket commentator Paul Cully, writing for the New Zealand news site Stuff, suggests that statistics show the Starc may have benefited greatly from the ball tampering allegedly carried out by Warner ands Smith.
England, on the other hand, have changed their entire approach as a team since the 2015 World Cup disaster that saw them bow out at the group stage after a dismal showing that saw them win just two of six group stage matches, according to CricInfo, and only against minnows Scotland and Afghanistan.
But since then, no One Day Interational side has scored more runs than England, topping six per over according to BBC statistics, and even setting a record with 481 runs in an ODI match against Australia in 2018. England have won about 70 percent of their ODI matches over the past four years, also the best in the world.
India are second-favorites in the 2019 Cup, according to the oddsmaking site Pinnacle.com, at 4-1 odds. South Africa come in at 9-1 and 2015 runners-up New Zealand stand at 11-1. Afghanistan brings up the rear, at 98-1 odds to take home the 2019 Cricket World Cup.