Ed Hawkins (@cricketbetting) explains how the sport’s showpiece tournament, the ICC Cricket World Cup works and the best way to bet on it.
<div><h2>The Contenders</h2><p>England are hot favourites for their first title. On home soil and boasting the best batting line-up in the world (probably ever) they are no better than 9/4 (3.25) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" target="_blank" title="Bet365 Sportsbook">Bet365</a> and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=3e56a0bf-7bdf-4fe1-b9a6-d22c7cc3dd2c&f=1" target="_blank" title="Betway sportsbook">Betway</a>.</p><p>India, who are eyeing a third title, are the only outfit who can go blade-to-blade with England on the batting front and are second favourites at 3/1 (4.0) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=b4150791-892f-469b-9b6a-7dfc6df0fb07&f=1" target="_blank" title="Ladbrokes Sportsbook">Ladbrokes</a>.</p><p>In truth, these two are considerably more talented than the rest, who have a myriad of issues. Australia have struggled even to win a series since they won the World Cup on home spoil four years and the 9/2 (4.5) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=acd6b93a-905e-45af-90ef-7eb1df661829&f=1" target="_blank" title="Coral Sportsbook">Coral</a> and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=b4150791-892f-469b-9b6a-7dfc6df0fb07&f=1" target="_blank" title="Ladbrokes Sportsbook">Ladbrokes</a> doesn’t appeal. South Africa, another seeking a first title, are 10/1 (11.0) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" target="_blank" title="Bet365 Sportsbook">Bet365</a> followed by a spirited New Zealand team at 10/1 (11.) with the same firm.</p><p>Pakistan are mercurial as ever at 14/1 (15.0) with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" target="_blank" title="Bet365 Sportsbook">Bet365</a> and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=153&a=8ec6399a-9df1-4c52-b272-39e6428836a6&f=1" target="_blank" title="Coral Sportsbook">Betfair</a> while the West Indies could be put in the same unpredictable camp at 16/1 (17.0) with Betway. As for the rest, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are 100/1 across the board and Afghanistan come in at 200/1. These three will do remarkably well to qualify for the semis.</p><h2>Tournament Breakdown</h2><p>Past World Cups have been beset by structural issues. Teams have been split into groups of four – meaning one slip from a contender could send them home - and there was the confusing experiment with a Super Eight stage team carried through points from a previous group section. Go figure.</p><p>This time the ICC have got it bang on. Ten teams play a nine-game league season with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals. Simple. We would expect five wins to be enough for a team to make the last four. Six is surely safe. Two points are awarded for a win and one for a no result.</p><p>That is good news for the likes of England India, the top two in the betting, who would have to suffer a major slump from their win percentages (both in the 70s in the last two years) not to qualify. It also means that minnows like Afghanistan or Bangladesh have a very tough task to make the business end. The semi-finals should be full of quality between teams who made it on merit. That hasn’t always been true of knockouts in a World Cup.</p><h2>Facts and Stats</h2><p>There have been only two host nations who have won the World Cup (India in 2011 and Australia in 2015). The last time England staged the event in 1999, they failed to qualify for the knockouts and were eliminated before even the official World Cup song was released.</p><p>Australia are the powerhouses of the tournament. They have won five titles – four of them from the last five editions. Still, those teams were exceptionally talented and the current mob aren’t fit to lace their boots.</p><p>England have an awful record. They haven’t made a semi-final since 1992. Only since an inept performance four years ago have they realised what it takes to play ODI. Their turnaround is one of the more extraordinary stories in sports.</p><p>South African teams have a win percentage of 65 in World Cups. But they are yet to make a final. India, who have two titles, have a rate of 62.</p><h2>World Cup Main Betting Markets</h2><p><br /><a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/cricket/int/world-cup/?mtgid=outright&mtid=311" title="ICC World Cup Cricket Betting"><strong>Outrights</strong></a></p><p>The new format makes this a far more attractive concept for punters and it is no coincidence it mirrors T20 franchise cricket. It’s a marathon, then, not a sprint so be wary of the team getting out of the blocks quickly. England, perhaps?</p><p>We can also learn a lot from T20 here. The teams who have ability with both bat and ball always rise to the top. One-dimensional sides, we’re chiefly thinking about teams who can only do one thing (smash it with the bat) really should be found out.</p><p>Bettors should not be afraid of taking a chance on a big price. New Zealand and Pakistan could fit the bill. They are more than capable of breaking into the top four and with England and India expected to qualify with ease, it’s a bun fight for the final two spots.</p><p><strong>Top Batsman</strong></p><p>Big money will be placed on players with big reputations. <a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/tips/more-sports/virat-kohli-cricket-player-profile/89593/" title="Virat Kohli Player Profile">Virat Kohli</a>, the best batsman in the world, will be a stand out wager. Joe Root, England’s equivalent., likewise. And already money has come for them to shorten their prices. But be aware that it is the opening batsmen who can dominate. Four of the last five tournament top bats have been openers so it would be folly to look past the top two. And you also want to be on an opener who is going to go deep into the tournament. India’s Rohit Sharma and England’s Jason Roy, for example.</p><p><strong>Top Bowler</strong></p><p>Spin bowlers have dominated the top wicket-taker lists in the last two years. But only three spinners have made the top three in the last five World Cups. With the tournament taking place in early summer in England, the seamers and swingers should come to the fore. Certainly the 1999 tournament was dominated by such bowlers. Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult, therefore, will reckon they can top the charts again. They shared honours in 2015.</p></div>