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Whither One Day Internationals and ICC World Cup?

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Editor: The ICC World Cup 2011 bowls off this Friday in the Bangladeshi city of Mirpur, at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Unlike previous tournaments, the lukewarm interest of cricket faithfuls this time around is testimony of a cricket revolution.{{more}} The fact that many cricket fans view the World Cup as a nuisance ahead of the fourth IPL edition, shows in which format the interest lies. It’s sad to see the once highly fancied ODI cricket format meander into a pitiful oblivion.

The previous World Cup is best forgotten by West Indians because of the draconian regulations instituted by a timid WICB. The West Indian was literally taken out of this West Indies-hosted World Cup, robbing the rest of the world an opportunity to view the uniqueness of the Caribbean people. The sights and sounds of the West Indies were non-existent as the Australians convincingly retained their title in the twilight of the Kensington evening.

For the first time in twelve years, the Aussies are not favourites in a World Cup. However, recent performances against ashes-drained England should make competitors wary of a wounded giant. The West Indies has since slipped to an all-time low, ninth place in the ICC rankings. It would be a triumph for the Caribbean side if they can advance beyond the first round, pitted against powerhouses like South Africa and England.

The Indians are fancied as favourites, given their powerful batting order and recent forms. The fact that the tournament is staged in the subcontinent should further boost their chances. By the same token, the Sri Lankans should also fancy their chances on home turf. Given their unpredictability, the Pakistanis should spring a few surprises. The English will no doubt continue to flatter to deceive. An out-of-depth New Zealand is expected to perform under the radar, while Bangladesh continues to improve and should cause a few upsets.

The South Africans have slipped up on numerous occasions, but this time appear to be the best balanced, most focused and best-drilled team coming into the World Cup. They possess the most potent fast bowling attack, spearheaded by the lethal Dale Steyn. The batting is a mixture of youth and experience, including the prolific Hashim Amla and spearheaded by the reliable Jacques Kallis. The Proteas’ past mistakes should no doubt act as motivation throughout the tournament. I pick them to win.

Whatever the outcome, this is ICC’s last chance to resuscitate ODI cricket.

Collin CA$H Haywood