Monday, March 12, 2007

World Cup Preview - Group C

  • Opinion: A couple of wins at the end of a torrid summer, and as always, the home media has the English right up there as potential winners of the tournament. Don't believe the hype. They lack that cliched, but always requisite, X-factor to really make a major impact on the tournament. In their favour is the momentum gained from a couple of big wins, and they will believe that they can pull it out in a crunch situation. The problem is, this time around they will need other results to go in their favour as well. The utility axis of Lewis, Reeve, Pringle, DeFreitas and Botham served them well in 1992, but not well enough. Mahmood, Collingwood, Dalrymple, Bopara and Flintoff will be striving to achieve the same this time around.
  • Ones to Watch: It's got to be Monty. He's looking in great touch, and in proving to the English selectors and coach that there is room for a specialist in one-day cricket, has shown that he is right up there. You could be watching the bowler of the tournament right here.
  • Prediction: Although they are capable of losing to Kenya or Canada, they will not, but a Super 8 showing is about as good as they can hope for.

New Zealand
  • Opinion: The game against England is going to make or break their tournament. Win that, and they could just get on a roll. However, it's always dangerous to bet on New Zealand given their penchant for blowing it when it really matters. The small grounds, however, are something they will relish - they know how to work with those constraints as they face them day in day out at home. Furthermore, although I don't yet believe Andy Roberts when he says we'll see some tracks with bounce and movement, but if we do, the Kiwis know how to use a seamer too.
  • Ones to Watch: Shane Bond, is of course the key. I don't know if he's quite the bowler he once threatened to be, but what he is is a top class quick. He is also a pleasure to watch with the ball, and quite capable of destroying the best top orders, even on a placid track. I also have seen very little of the new kid on the block, Ross Taylor, but he has shown that he has the mental fortitude to mix it with the best of them on the biggest stage.
  • Prediction: I would love to see them squeeze through to the semi-finals, just to give us all something a little different, but I suspect the highlight of their tournament will be topping Group C.

  • Opinion: Kenya, led as ever by Steve Tikolo, have a point to prove. They feel they don't get the opportunities they deserve, especially in light of their semi-final spot at the last tournament. They will probably see their game against England as the opportunity for an upset. It's the last game of the group stage, and the opportunity will never be better.
  • Ones to Watch: I simply haven't seen or read enough about the Kenyans to make a judgement here.
  • Prediction: A comfortable third in the group, but perhaps the most likely to pull off an upset and sneak through to the Super 8 stage.

  • Opinion: John Davison thrilled on occasion in 2003, but he is 4 years older, and his performances have been on the wane. He may yet lift himself for a last hurrah, and he has a steady if not inspired bowling attack at his disposal, but again, the batting doesn't look to have the depth it would need to compete. They were hammered by Kenya in the WCL recently, and there's little reason to expect anything different.
  • Ones to Watch: Ashish Bagai, the young keeper-batsman has been a standout for Canada for years, and was man of the tournament in Kenya. This is his big chance to show he can mix it with the best -- a couple of impressive performances in the big games, and he could find himself playing cricket in England in the summer.
  • Prediction: Dead last.

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