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Cricket World Cup 2007
Calypso Cricket has long been loved for its edgier approach to an often unnecessarily complicated gentleman’s game. ‘Why find a gap in the field when you can hit over the top,’ argued one of the West Indian greats, Sir Vivian Richards. Likewise, as a spectator sport, cricket in the Caribbean has always been a world apart. It is best described as a ‘lively party’ painted with color and equipped with seasoned coaches, drums and various other instruments to add a rhythmic flavor to the day. Imagine, in Australia even beach balls are confiscated upon entry; in Barbados, guides lead ‘high’ fans to mounds where spectators and lively DJs jam to calypso and soca chutney.
Hosting a cricket showcase event is a huge task for any nation, let alone a region as diverse as the West Indies.
“Ten years ago if you said that nine governments would combine to pass legislation for the World Cup, and that this scale of construction would happen, people would have said you were crazy. Since the 1930s we have take cricket in the Caribbean for granted but now we have an opportunity to change the game forever. We’ve spent more than $300m and used it to revamp everything. It’s been a great exercise.” -Chief Executive of the World Cup, Chris Dehring
Whether Dehring’s enthusiasm equates to a smoothly run tournament is a matter of concern for an anxious cricket public. But one thing is certain, when the tournament opens in Jamaica on March 13, any speculation about the fate of the Cricket World Cup 2007 will fade seamlessly into the rhythm of the diverse crowd as all eyes focus on the red ball. that shiny.
So, who will win the 2007 World Cup? Well…
The reigning World Cup holders are in threatening form. They secured the Champions Trophy in India in November, then took on England and New Zealand at home. Their bullish approach on the field has won them some critics, but it has also won them many tight games. Captain Ricky Ponting is a tactical master who knows how to strangle opposition teams. Wicket-batsman Adam Gilchrist can destroy powerful attacks, Brett Lee has matured into a devastating one-day bowler, and Michael Hussey has built a reputation as a clinical finisher. World domination never gets old for this crowd. Reason enough to keep them very safe.
Player to watch: Andrew Symonds
A thrilling exponent of the modern game, Symonds is a fearsome, zinc-filled master – look out for his middle-order mayhem with the bat. Symonds is more than handy with the ball too. He can bowl either off-spin or probe at medium pace, and his fielding is quite simply the best in world cricket.
2. South Africa
Prediction: Semi Finals
South Africa remain a well-drilled unit, with an experienced top shelf. Captain Graeme Smith leads a talented batting line-up that relies on the stroke-making of Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs. Throw in two tough rounds for Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall, along with the bouncing Makhaya Ntini, and most teams will struggle to keep them out.
Player to Watch: Mark Boucher
Lieutenant Mark Boucher is a formidable lower-order batsman, and a world-class gloveman who marshals an excellent fielding side. The 30-year-old thrives in difficult situations, but can also pace an innings at the death. If called upon, he rarely fails.
Prediction: Semi Finals
Coach Bob Woolmer will be looking for consistency from his fresh-faced Pakistan side who showed promise on the 2006 tours to South Africa and India. Only the madcap captain Inzamam-ul-Haq remains from the star-studded 1992 World Cup-winning team, but key batsmen Younis Khan and Mohammed Yousuf (currently world no.1) is the presence of a formidable middle order. In addition, young pacer Mohammed Asif has emerged as a big wicket taker. If the opening batsmen can settle, then Pakistan will surely threaten the big boys.
Player to Watch: Shoaib Akhtar
Pakistan’s chances of World Cup glory got a huge boost recently when speed demon Shoaib Akhtar was handed a two-year ban for steroid use by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Love him or hate him, the high-flying playboy is a proven game winner. He has pure speed and an uncanny ability to reverse the swing of the ball. If fit and firing, Pakistan will go far.
4. New Zealand
A specialist one-day side, the Black Caps are a tenacious defensive side, with enough firepower to cause an upset. The bowling attack features a top-class spinner in Daniel Vettori who has developed into a fine artist of orthodox left-arm flown, paceman Shane Bond, and the underrated seamer Mark Gillespie . Captain Stephen Fleming leads a flexible batting line-up, with a dashing lower order. If the top order can shake off a tendency to self-destruct, then New Zealand will take advantage of their weak grouping.
Player to watch: Jacob Oram
Oram is crucial to the balance of his team. A muscular left-handed batsman, he has resurrected countless Black Caps innings with a blend of power and grace. Importantly, Oram also bowls a useful medium pace, which allows the Kiwi selectors to include another specialist batsman, or promising spinner Jeetan Patel. An injury-free Jacob Oram holds the key for New Zealand.
5. West Indies
Prediction: Super 8’S
The host nation of a major tournament can rarely be underestimated, and the West Indies are the type of team to beat on kicks alone. Or at least they used to be. This current crop has talent, inconsistency continues to confuse their legion of frustrated fans. The ever-present Brian Lara will do one last whirlwind, but it is the opening pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle that could determine how far the team progresses. Jerome Taylor is developing rapidly as a strike bowler, and Ian Bradshaw has a good one-day record, but the West Indies lack front-line bowlers to keep the opposition batsmen in check. However, given the overall team performance, and who knows what home field advantage could come?
Player to Watch: Dwayne Bravo
Bravo is exactly what the West Indies have been looking for – a true all-rounder. Bravo made a big impression on his England debut in 2004, and hasn’t looked back since. An aggressive yet technically astute middle-order batsman, and a deceptive medium-pace bowler, Bravo has injected a timely enthusiasm into Caribbean cricket.
Prediction: Super 8’s
Expectation weighs heaviest on Team India, and their form is often harder to gauge than a winter monsoon. Yet coach Greg Chappell appears to have turned them around in recent months, with lanky captain Sourav Ganguly returning to the fray as an opening batsman, and poster boy Sachin Tendulkar enjoying yet another purple patch . But scoring runs was never a problem for India; stopping runs has been more difficult. Harbajan Singh and Anil Kumble give them slow bowling options, but the conditions in the Caribbean will not suit their suddenness. Similarly the pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar are too inconsistent to trouble the world’s best orders on a regular basis. However, if India tightens up in the field, don’t underestimate the sleeping giant.
Player to Watch: MS Dhoni
The magical boy of Indian cricket, MS Dhoni gets the crowds jumping, the women swooning, and the selectors licking their lips. The long-haired wicketkeeper is also a punishing middle-order batsman as he proved in Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2005.
7. Sri Lanka
Prediction: Super 8’s
The 1996 World Champions have done well to remain competitive after a golden era. This exciting and well-coached side continues to produce impressive results. Their solid record away from home is down to batting depth, sharp fielding and a couple of star bowlers, world record wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan and veteran leftie Chaminda Vaas. With Jayawardene as an uncompromising, positive captain, and hard-hitting slasher Sanath Jayasuriya still getting his team off to a great start with the bat, look for Sri Lanka to cause some serious headaches.
Player to Watch: Lasith Malinga
This fiery fast bowler has been a revelation for the small island nation. His round-arm action leaves batsmen with little time to see the ball, and his reputation as foot-crunching yorkers and searing bouncers has cricket fans lining up to see him play. Malinga is sure to enjoy the West Indies pitches too, so look for him to make a real impact at the 2007 World Cup.
Prediction: Super 8’s
The tragedy of one-day international cricket, England have only won a handful of games in the last two years. Conservative and short-sighted choices have not helped the cause, such as the latest tour to Australia which saw three players in their mid-30s make their debuts. There are some positives though, namely the brave captain Andrew Flintoff and the heady batsman Kevin Pietersen. The return of opener Michael Vaughan will also make a huge difference, as will the continued development of cage spinner Monty Panesar and swing bowler James Anderson.
Player to Watch: Kevin Pieterson
The outspoken star of English cricket, the charismatic Kevin, has rocked the establishment with his natural aggression and stroke-making ability. Pietersen has the confidence to lead from the front, and without him England are a scared and dull bunch. However, when he is in his mood, there are few better exponents of the art of batting.
2. South Africa
4. The Netherlands
Warner Park Stadium, St Kitts and Nevis
2. Sri Lanka
Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad and Tobago
1. New Zealand
Beausejour Cricket Ground, Saint Lucia
2. West Indies
Sabina Park, Jamaica
Sir Vivian Richards Oval, Antigua and Barbuda
Queen’s Park, Grenada
Providence Stadium, Guyana
Kensington Oval, Barbados
* The two best teams from each group will progress to the Super 8 stage. From there, another set of round-robin games will determine the semi-finals.
April 24th – Sabina Park, Jamaica
April 25th – Beausejour Cricket Ground, Saint Lucia
April 28th – Kensington Oval, Barbados
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