It’s time to stock up on cheap beer and tell your boss you’ve got dengue fever. The World Cup is finally upon us! It’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster – albeit one that goes on seven months or something. With England likely to be knocked out by Ireland as karma for poaching their best player, we’re all going to need somebody else to support come the knockout stages.
This insightful, helpful, and definitely one hundred percent accurate, preview will help you choose that second team. And if you’re the betting type – if placing a bet is appropriate in this era of spot fixing -we’ll give you some useful tips. Our information comes straight from some bloke I met in a back alley in Calcutta. His said his name was ‘John’.
The Pakistanis have been in a fix since Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and their former captain Fish Bum, were banned for five years. However, there is still a lot of talent in their team. The bowling looks good and their opening bowler looks even better, according to Shoaib Akhtar; I think his exact words were ‘I’m gorgeous me, just look at my lovely hair’. The spinning duo of Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi also looks rather tasty, so Pakistan shouldn’t have a problem taking wickets. The batting, however, could be a problem. Younus Khan and Misbah are pretty handy players, but the others look a bit useless. Meanwhile, Kamran Akmal is the player in the tournament most likely to do a Hershelle Gibbs and drop the World Cup.
Dangerman: Shahid Afridi (whenever he’s wearing spikes, the middle of the pitch is always in danger)
Potential Dunce: The Akmals look far too much like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber to do anything useful
Do we like them? Depends who / what you’ve got money on
After recently beating a knackered and depleted England team that had been away from home for four months, the Aussies have fallen into the trap of thinking they’re good. They aren’t. Their batting hasn’t been consistent for a while, and they’ll miss Mike Hussey as much as England will miss Eoin Morgan. Meanwhile, the bowling is likely to have a rude awakening. Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait will leak runs in the early overs (before it swings) and their spinners will make Mike Yardy look positively brilliant.
Dangerman: Shane Watson
Potential Dunce: Jason Krezja. His recall makes about as much sense as David Boon after eighty cans of XXXX.
Do we like them? What do you think?!
Prediction: They’re lucky Bangladesh aren’t in their group, or they’d be heading for an early exit
The Kiwis are known as perennial under-achievers. However, in order to be an under-achiever, you need to have the talent to do better. We don’t think New Zealand do. Much as we secretly like the Black Caps and love egging them on (especially when they’re playing the rancid Aussies) this looks to be the worst New Zealand team for some time. Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram are their only World Class players. I tried to put Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder in the same bracket but I just couldn’t do it. They throw their wickets away far too easily. Meanwhile, Brendon McCullum must be the most overrated player in the history of world cricket. I’ve never seen so much fuss made over a bloke that averages just twenty eight.
Dangerman: Jesse Ryder (especially if you happen to be a meat pie)
Potential Dunce: Tim Southee. The promising youngster is likely to be Sehwag-fodder
Do we like them? Yes we generally do, because they don’t beat us very often
I’ve never met a cricket fan who hasn’t claimed that Sri Lanka are ‘dark horses’ for a tournament at some point. It’s the same this time. They could possibly win the World Cup (especially as they’ve got home advantage) but I doubt they will. Sangakarra, Jayawardene and Dilshan are all excellent players but the batting is top heavy. Once the superstars get out, there is very little to follow. Meanwhile the bowling isn’t that strong. Malinga is decent but is slowly losing his pace, Murali’s skills have deteriorated, Mendis hasn’t been at his best for a while, and the others will challenge Scott Styris for the batsman’s best friend award – sponsored by Mothercare. Sri Lanka will get to the semis, but if they meet India in the knockout stages they’ll lose.
Dangerman: Angelo Matthews (but with the bat, not the ball)
Potential Dunce: Anyone that bets on them
Do we like them? Depends whether you think Murali and/or Malinga chuck it.
Canada, Kenya, Zimbabwe
I haven’t got anything to say about these teams other than ‘do we really need them at the World Cup’?
If India don’t win this World Cup then something is seriously wrong. They have by far the best batting line-up and the competition is weak. Tendulkar, Sehwag, Ghambir and Yuvraj would walk into any team in the world, and Harbhajan and Chawla form a dangerous spin attack. The only possible draw back is a lack of a new ball partner for the excellent Zaheer Khan. If Indian tikka chance on Ashish Nehra, they might as well field with ten men. But if they go with Sreesanth, whose on-field behaviour often resembles that of a rabid dog, they’re likely to phal foul of the officials – in which case there’ll be tears on MS Dohni’s pilau. If the worst happens, and big guns flop like a soggy naan, the river Ganges will be awash with Indian tears. Yes, Indian fans take it all a bit too seriously, but as Lesley Gore once sang, ‘it’s their japati and they’ll cry if they want to’.
Dangerman: Tendulkar – it would be a fairytale if he lifts the World Cup
Potential Dunce: Can’t think of one actually
Do we like them? We envy them, does that count?
I hate to say it but the Cricketboks look to be one of the strongest teams. Their batting boasts four world class performers in Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB DeVilliers and bloody Jacques Kallis, the bane of our existence, who still refuses to go away. The bowling looks ok too. Dale Steyn is still a potent force, Morne Morkel should take wickets, and Johan Botha is a reliable bowler … if bowler is the right word. Does anyone remember when Matthew Hayden dead-batted one of his deliveries, picked the ball up, and threw it back at him with an exaggerated bend of the elbow? Priceless.
Fortunately, although South Africa have a decent side, they’ve got no chance of winning the World Cup. Even if they get into a strong position in the final and need one to win off the final ball, some tailender is bound to carve it down to third man but somehow fail to complete the necessary single. He’ll probably run down the wicket like a headless Nandos chicken, collide with his batting partner, drop his bat, forget where he is and walk off the ground in a daze, or start celebrating prematurely and forget to ground his bat. Everyone knows the Cricketboks will choke somehow.
Dangerman: Anyone but Kallis please
Potential Dunce: It’s got to be JP. He’ll probably get run out and spit his Duminy.
Do we like them? Hell no
Prediction: Beaten Finalists
We’ve got no chance. You know it, the team know it, the whole bloody world knows it. As soon as Eoin Morgan got injured any lingering glimmer of hope evaporated. When the Irish Terrier fractured his middle finger, it was as if the cricketing Gods were giving England the finger. Twelve months ago, we had a useful middle order. However, Collingwood’s forgotten how to bat, our best batsman is back home supporting Ireland, and Pietersen has inexplicably been promoted to open. If the gamble does pay off, and we’re not saying it won’t, then England might well reach the quarter finals – where further embarrassment is sure to be inflicted on us. However, it all depends on whether we can beat Bangladesh and the Windies. Can we do it? Probably not. We’ve got a totally new batting order again and nobody knows their roles now.
Dangerman: Kevin Pietersen (at least opening will keep him away from left-arm spinners)
Potential Dunce: Oh heavens. Probably Yardy.
Do we like them? I certainly hope so.
Prediction? Shootout with the Windies to see who qualifies
Not long ago the experts didn’t need to analyse the Windies chances, the names Richards, Greenwich, Lloyd, Lara, Ambrose, Walsh, Marshall etc spoke for themselves. The same applies today but for different reasons. Adrian Barath, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh and Kemar Roach have all been included in the West Indies squad. Need I go on? Unfortunately the Windies only have four quality cricketers these days: Dwayne Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Chris Gayle. Furthermore, I’ve been sulking on the latter since he admitted that he loved T20 and had no time for test cricket. In my opinion, that makes Gayle the enemy. I hope his career goes the same way as West Indies cricket in general. Git.
Dangerman: That left handed bloke we don’t like. The one that used to be captain
Potential Dunce: Suleiman Benn (possibly the most unathletic fielder since the legendary Dwayne Leverock of Bermuda)
Do we like them? Yes we do. It’s a real shame that all their best sportsmen play basketball now
Prediction: They’ll fail miserably, but probably still beat England
The Tigers beat England for the first time in July last year, and it could become something of a habit. We don’t think that Bangladesh are particularly good, but their ODI form at home has been quite good recently – they beat New Zealand comprehensively in a recent series. The one thing they’ve really got in their favour is home advantage. Their crowds are more fanatical than all those girls who loved Take That in the nineties (you know, the ones we’re married to now), and the pitches are likely to be painfully slow, which means the likes of Shakib Al Hassan will suffocate the opposition’s run rate effectively. Bangladesh should also be good fun to watch. Tamin Iqbal is superb value, and I hope he gets stacks of runs. Expect the Tigers to beat the West Indies, and they’ll probably beat England too. That means they should qualify from the group.
Dangerman: Tamin Iqbal
Potential Dunce: Anyone that underestimates them in their own backyard
Do we like them? I actually want them to win the bloody thing (but they won’t)
Prediction: The Tigers will earn their stripes by reaching the quarters
Netherlands & Ireland
I refer you to my earlier comments about Canada, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The only difference is that Ireland will really, really want to do well, and might actually win a game – especially if what ‘John’ tells me is correct (nudge nudge, wink wink).
What do you think?
So there you go. India to become champions, Australia to struggle, and England to go back to the drawing board. Do you think we’ve got things about right, or are our predictions likely to be as accurate as a Mitchell Johnson out-swinger? Let us know what you think. And if you’re reading this and your name is Chris Gayle, my solicitor’s details are …
James Morgan and ‘John’