Ok everyone. It’s cards on the table time. How do you really rate England’s chances of winning the World Cup?

Many cricket fans I talk to (English supporters) seem to think it’s in the bag already. Plus we’ve read that the ECB have already started planning a victory parade through London – which seems more than a little dangerous. It’s a bit like when Colin Graves described the West Indies as ‘mediocre’ ahead of a tour. We all know how that turned out!

I’ve been monitoring the cricket betting over recent weeks and the bookies tend to have England at about 2/1 to lift the trophy. That implies we’ve got a 50:50 chance. To be honest thats seems a bit tightfisted in a ten team race. Anyone can win if they hit form at the right time. Nobody thought Pakistan would win the Champions Trophy but they did so in style.

Consequently I wondered if this price was just a reflection of home bias i.e. the bookies responding to a surge of patriotic bets placed by overly optimistic Englishmen. This kind of things happens in the football all time. England are often fourth or fifth favourites for a World Cup or European Championship in our own country even though we feature way down the list in others. Perhaps the same is true when it comes to cricket?

However, my research has revealed this isn’t the case. The England cricket team are favourites just about everywhere – including down under. And we all know the Aussies have about as much faith in the England cricket team as regular readers of this blog have in the ECB.

The same is true elsewhere around the world too. Even international sites like the Canada-based cansportsbetting.ca have similar odds. Occasionally you’ll see 9/4 rather than 2/1 but overall England are still hot favourites despite our terrible recent World Cup pedigree.

The two teams who represent the best value are possibly New Zealand and the West Indies. Although the latter haven’t had much success in ODIs in recent times I think their squad is fairly well suited to English conditions. The batting looks pretty strong with the likes of Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, and Darren Bravo, whilst their seam attack of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, and Andre ‘X-factor’ Russell should be quite potent.

The West Indies are 12-1 with many bookies which isn’t a bad price for a team who doubtless enjoy their cricket without too many expectations. The high scoring grounds should suit their T20 stars too. And we all know that the reigning World T20 champions are a match for anyone when it comes to hitting contests.

I’ve discussed New Zealand’s prospects before so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, Kiwi gamblers would be advised to take a few moments away from the real money pokies to back their team at a generous 9-1.

Are New Zealand really more than four times less likely to win the World Cup than England? Personally I don’t think so. What’s more, I don’t see why South Africa, who are 8-1 with most bookies, are favoured more than Kane Williamson’s side.

I think what the above shows us is that although England are currently ranked No.1 in the world, there are several sides capable of winning this tournament. We haven’t even mentioned India and a somewhat resurgent Australia.

I just worry that England will feel the pressure more than most. We’re not only favourites but hosts too. That’s a double dose of expectations. What’s more, so much has been sacrificed in order to win this event. The ECB are absolutely desperate to secure England’s first major ODI trophy, especially with all the controversy surrounding The Hundred. Will this desperation spread to the dressing room too?

Personally I think English cricket has been a bit tetchy of late. The board want the players to be whiter than white, player indiscretions have been punished severely, and Eoin Morgan’s harsh public criticism of Alex Hales perhaps suggests that the skipper is feeling the pressure a bit too.

Did you see Eoin’s celebrations when England won the essentially meaningless T20 against Pakistan at the weekend? It seemed a bit over the top to me. England certainly seem pumped up a the moment.

Some would say too pumped up.

James Morgan

Written in collaboration with Sports Betting Canada