The 2019 Cricket World Cup gets underway on Thursday as hosts England, the pre-tournament favourites, take on South Africa at The Oval. All ten teams will face off in a round-robin group stage, with the best four teams then advancing to the semi-finals. Ahead of the best players on the planet facing off over the next month or so, we’ve asked the Read Cricket writers for their predictions for the tournament.
Highest Run Scorer
Sam Brown: Jonny Bairstow can be one of the most unstoppable batsmen in the world when he finds form, and despite his opening partner Jason Roy enjoying much of the pre-tournament hype, I still fancy the sunburn-prone Yorkshireman to put a strong innings together at the start of the competition. One will bring two, and so on.
Ste Hoare: I think it’ll be the opening batsman who do some serious damage in this tournament. The white balls are hardly moving off straight and with the field up, they can tee off. There are plenty of great openers about but I think David Warner will continue his excellent IPL form into the World Cup and finish as the top run scorer.
Alex Newton: Steve Smith. It pains me to say it, but nothing will bother him. For all the controversy, he’s still one of, if not the, best batsmen in the world. He’s not going to smash 50 off 20-odd balls but he’ll be calculated getting regular big scores while the others do the big-hitting around him. Australia always so well at World Cups, I can’t see this time being any different.
Dan Wilcox: I’m going Steve Smith here. He looked in good touch against England in the warm-up game. Outside mentions for Virat Kohli and Jason Roy, who I think will both score heavily too.
Highest Wicket Taker
Sam Brown: Trent Boult might be the most lethal fast bowler in world cricket right now. Expect New Zealand to take every opportunity to bowl first and hand Boult the new ball. He sliced through India in a warmup game last week, and his ability to get the ball zipping off the pitch will mean more destruction is on the cards.
Ste Hoare: Wickets in the middle-to-late overs and will be key and I think that England’s Adil Rashid will come into his own there. Teams will have to go after him as they look to score big against England and I see him sweeping up a few middle orders and tails.
Alex Newton: New Zealand are coming into this tournament in good form which is why I’m going for Trent Boult. Eight wickets in his last two warm-up games, against the West Indies and India respectively, for a combined 83 runs means he’ll head into the tournament full of confidence. With his first three games being against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, he could be already uncatchable before the competition is a week old.
Dan Wilcox: Has to be Trent Boult – he’s just sensational. Rashid Khan and Archer will also take plenty of wickets, in my opinion.
Sam Brown: Chris Gayle is a tower of power, and his runs will come almost exclusively at the concession of the boundary rope. He really isn’t quick between the wickets these days!
Ste Hoare: Chris Gayle doesn’t run any more, he just smacks the ball out of the park. I think he follows on from his 2015 World Cup exploits by smashing the most sixes.
Alex Newton: Shimron Hetmyer. Make no mistake about it, West Indies are going to post big scores this World cup. Any team with Gayle and Andre Russell in their team are going to do that, but it’s the youngster Hetmyer that I can see going big this summer. The 22-year-old could be the next leading force in West Indian cricket as the stalwart Gayle enters his twilight years.
Dan Wilcox: One of two England players here: Jos Buttler or Jason Roy? I think I’ll go for the former. The middle order man has the skills to do some serious damage on the world stage.
Player of the Tournament
Sam Brown: Bairstow’s run-scoring exploits could be critical to England’s potential success, and if they are, I expect him to get the nod as the Player of the Tournament. I trust him to stay true to his laser-guided hitting in the heat of the moment.
Ste Hoare: In a tournament that will be dominated by the bat, I’ll stick with my highest run scorer and go for David Warner.
Alex Newton: Jos Buttler, not just for his outrageous batting but his work behind the stumps too. If Buttler has a good tournament then England will reach the final, it’s as simple as that. One of the world’s best and he doesn’t strike you as someone the pressure will get to.
Dan Wilcox: I’m going to go a bit left field and say Joe Root here. We all know he can contribute with the bat but he also showed against Afghanistan that he can add something to the side with the ball. Runs and wickets deep into the tournament could mean he’s in contention.
Breakout Star of the Tournament
Sam Brown: Shimron Hetmyer is one of the most enjoyable players to watch in cricket at the moment, and the West Indies youngster could make a name for himself with his free-flowing batting style. He’s already averaging 45 in ODIs, so I expect him to continue that form in England.
Ste Hoare: South Africa’s bowling attack is fierce, and I’d be tempted to say Kagiso Rabada here as he’s so young but I think he’s already ‘broken out’ so I’ll go for his teammate Lungi Ngidi. He’s not as quick as Rabada but he’s very, very accurate and I think he’ll emerge as a top bowler this summer.
Alex Newton: There may be a slight England bias to this but I’m going for Jofra Archer. What more can you say about this man? He has all the talent in the world, and it’s now his time to shine. Fast, talented and the right amount of cockiness, whether he’s bowling at Kholi, Smith or the Sri Lankan tail, nothing will bother him.
Dan Wilcox: I’m going to say Shimron Hetmyer. Think he’s in for a big tournament.
Sam Brown: England will be there, I’m sure of that. Australia and India seem to be too good to miss out, although an Aussie collapse would be terrific poetic justice. As for the final spot, I expect New Zealand to edge out the chasing pack that will be most likely be spearheaded by South Africa.
Ste Hoare: This is so tough! In truth, the only two sides who I think have no chance of getting to the semi-finals are Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the other eight teams all have a chance. I think England, at home, make it through along with Australia, India and the West Indies but I’m not confident at all!
Alex Newton: There’s a shock every Corld cup, so one or two of the four favourites (England, India, Australia, South Africa) are going to miss out. I’m going for a major turn up and saying the final four will be England, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies. India have a long wait for their first game, they just got hammered by New Zealand in the warm-ups and they have a tricky first game against South Africa. South Africa always find controversy at the World Cup, leaving the door open for a couple of shock semi-finalists. New Zealand are solid 1 to 11 and have a great captain in Kane Williamson. West Indies will score big, and if their bowling unit turns up, they have a great chance.
Dan Wilcox: I’ll go for the West Indies, England, Pakistan and India.
Sam Brown: This really is anyone’s guess, so I’m just going right ahead and say England versus India.
Ste Hoare: I have England facing the West Indies and Australia taking on India; two mouth-watering ties. I’ll back England and Australia to get to the final from those two games.
Alex Newton: England and Australia. In an Ashes summer, it seems the script is already written. England look all but unstoppable and will be backed by bumper crowds up and down the country. In terms of Australia, they ALWAYS find a way at World Cups. Smith and Warner are being thrown into the lion’s den, but that’s something these Aussies will thrive on. West Indies’ bowling will come back to haunt them while New Zealand are always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
Dan Wilcox: I’ll predict a final between the two best teams in the world; England v India.
Sam Brown: If it does come down to England and India, a truly tense final awaits. Both teams have the batsmen to score in any situation, but I think the hosts have the edge when it comes to the bowlers. Ferocious pace from Jofra Archer, an English conditions specialist in Chris Woakes, a technician in Adil Rashid, and a crazed northerner in Mark Wood – I’ll back England!
Ste Hoare: A win over Australia would be the stuff of dreams for England, whilst a loss would be a nightmare! I think England will sneak a tense final based on the fact that the final will be played on the flattest of flat pitches, which suits England’s overall stronger batting line-up.
Alex Newton: England vs Australia in a World Cup final at Lords? My heart says England, my head says Australia. Here’s to a Jofra Archer masterclass and England winning the World Cup!
Dan Wilcox: I think England will win the trophy. They’ve been excellent since the last World Cup and in home conditions, I think they’ll get the job done.