Despite the advent of immensely popular T20 leagues like IPL, Big Bash etc., and tournaments like World T20 and Champions Trophy, ICC Cricket World Cup has succeeded in retaining its charm. 12th edition of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is about to start from May 30, with inaugural match between hosts England and South Africa at The Oval – both the teams are in pursuit of their first ever title. Hosted by England and Wales, the quadrennial tournament will see top 10 cricketing nations fight each other over a period of 46 days to claim the prestigious trophy. This time the number of teams are reduced from 14 to 10. Consequently, it is going to be the first ever World Cup where no associate countries are playing. As if it was not enough, for the first time in the World Cup history, two test nations – Zimbabwe and Ireland – are deprived of a spot.
In recent World Cups, 14 teams (16 in 2007 World Cup) used to participate. Consequently, apart from some rare upsets, the 4 non-test playing teams just kept on increasing the number of matches while lowering the level of competitiveness. For instance, in 2015 World Cup, there were 3 occasions when the winning team scored 400+ runs and there were 12 results where the margin of victory was 100+ runs. In 9 matches, the margin of victory was 7+ wickets. Now the reduced number of teams would certainly enhance the level of competitiveness at the World Cup.
This World Cup will revive the 1992 Benson & Hedges World Cup format. Group stage will see matches on Round-Robin format where all ten teams play each-other once. Thus, every team would be playing at least 9 matches. Four top placed teams would advance to the semi-final knock-out stage. In all, 48 matches will be played at 11 different venues – Edgbaston (Birmingham), Bristol, Cardiff, Chester-le-Street, Headingley (Leeds), Tauton, Rose Bowl (Southampton), Trent Bridge (Nottingham), Old Trafford (Manchester), The Oval (London) and Lord’s (London). Semi-finals will be played at Old Trafford and Edgbaston on July 9 and July 11 respectively, whereas the Final will be played at Lord’s on July 14. Winner will grab a prize money of US $ 4,000,000. The total Prize money for this World Cup is US $ 10 million.
Five times world champion Australia, led by Aaron Finch, will start its title defense campaign with a match against Afghanistan at Bristol on June 1. Two times world champion and a strong contender to the title – Indian Team led by Virat Kohli – will start its campaign with a match against South Africa on June 5 at Rose Bowl, Southampton. Host England – led by Eoin Morgan – has a strong line-up, and home conditions will be an added advantage for them. South Africa – led by Faf du Plessis – will be eager to shed the tag of ‘chokers’ this time. Last World Cup’s runners-up New Zealand – led by Kane Williamson – will be keen to amend the mistakes of the last tournament. With a competitive and lively format, no team could be taken lightly.
Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman (18 years) – the first male born in the 21th-century to play international cricket – will be the youngest player at this World Cup. On the other hand, South Africa’s Imran Tahir (40 years) will be the oldest player. With 341 ODI appearances, MS Dhoni of India will be the most experienced player, whereas Thomas Blundell will be the least experienced player who is yet to make his ODI debut.