©Mandatory Credit : Action Images / Richard Heathcote
With just under two months to go before the showpiece cricketing event of 2007, the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, the time has come for the Cricket World ® Media Centre contributors to stick their necks out and make some predictions about the World Cup.
Who do you think will win the competition, which four teams will make the semi-finals and which team will be the surprise performer?
CRICKET WORLD STAFF VIEWS
"My semi final would be (in no particular order): West Indies, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa. Final: Australia v West Indies. Winner: West Indies.
"I’m going to plump for the home side. They have a great record in One Day tournaments and play best at home, apart from the England Tour of 2004! To beat Australia you need to beat them with the bat and I think the West Indies are the only team who are capable of that. Sri Lanka are my hot tip for those who fancy a flutter on a dark horse."
"For me, it's hard to look beyond Australia, boring as that may be. It will take some performance to beat them when it really matters and at this stage as we see them carrying all before them, they look too good not to win the Cup.
"My semi-finalists are Australia, South Africa (the last team to beat Australia in a series), Pakistan (the only team I think who can out-bat the world champions) and West Indies (who have home advantage and recent experience of beating the Aussies in the Champions Trophy).
"For my surprise performer, I fancy Bangladesh to spring a surprise - in a group with India and Sri Lanka, I predict them beating one of their near neighbours and doing enough to sneak through to the Super 8 stage."
CRICKET WORLD FORUM MEMBERS VIEWS
I personally think that although their recent form has been patchy, the Aussies are going to win the tournament again. They have just been the best ODI side in recent years and have the world's best players, they are favourites and it would take a brave person to bet against them doing well in the tournament.
I think the four teams that reach the semis will be Australia, because they're the number one team in the world, have the best side and are the favourites for the competition. I think the West Indies will also qualify as they are the hosts and their current one-day form in tournaments is good, having recently reached the final of the Champions Trophy. Then I think Sri Lanka will join them too. Their ODI form over the past 12 months has been great and they have one of the most complete sides in world cricket at the moment. And finally I'd give the final semi-final place to England, just pipping South Africa and Pakistan into the final four. The reason I've chosen England is because they've just found their feet in one-day matches in the last few weeks and the confidence they will have going into the World Cup could well see them through to cause a few shocks. I'm going for an Australia V Sri Lanka final though.
I think the star batsman will be Kevin Pietersen, he's never played in a World Cup before and I think the experience will benefit him a lot and he will go on to big things in the tournament. The star bowler in my opinion will be Glenn McGrath. He will be playing his last cricket competition and I feel he will bow out of the sport on a high.
Aussies are everyone's favourite for sure! They simply have everything it takes to win the Cup.
The Windies stands a very good chance. They have arguable a very potent batting attack of Chanderpaul, Lara, Sarwan and Gayle - all capable of mass destruction. Samuels has hit touch of late and Bravo will now and then do the unthinkable. Taylor will be their star with the ball.
I fancy my chances with Australia of course, West Indies and Sri Lanka.
I'm not to sure about the structure of the draw but Aussie, SA, SL and West Indies if not Pakistan sounds about right.
Some of the predications for stars of the tournament are very bias.
Mohommad Yousef, Ricky Ponting, Sangakarra, Asif and Gayle are likely to be the stars of the tournament from my perspective.
Possibly Shane Bond, Ntini and Pollock in the bowling category, however I think batsman will dominant.
Player of the tournament for me will either be Ponting, Yousuf, or Sangakarra.
"Well this is the obvious choice, the way Australia are playing at the moment, having smashed England in the Ashes and now going on to be unbeaten in the Commonwealth bank series they will be going into the World cup in good form and the few teams with the talent to beat them are currently disorganised and suffering injury and form problems."
Final: Australia V Pakistan
"The West Indies have the obvious home advantage but right now their form isn't looking amazing, struggling against an out of form Indian side and with Lara out for one match they seem hopeless, such reliance on one player (well two counting Chanderpaul) isn't conductive with them getting to the final stage.
"South Africa are currently playing well and have some very talented players in one day matches, they have a tail that can provide runs however they have a history of not living up to their talent in big matches so I think it will be Pakistan in the final, although they have had recent controversy they have their two strike bowlers back (although Shoiab is currently injured) and Asif has taken it in his stride and is back getting wickets. They also have that strong middle order that almost always holds up when it is needed. They also have some good all rounders that give their squad a lovely balance."
"If England get through to the semis I along with almost the rest of the cricketing world will be shocked. I don't think I need to elaborate why but shambolic selection, a large group of defensive players and a mindset suited to test matches are the main reasons."
"I think Kenya might do well, they have been the ones to beat in the recent tri-series. They do have their work cut out however as they lost the final match to Canada who they have first up in the World Cup. They do have some good quality players in Steve Tikolo, Ravi Shah and Kennedy Otien who have experience in playing World cups being part of the squad that did so well in 2003. They also have some good young players and could cause an upset."
2. Sri Lanka
3. West Indies
"I think SA will blow it. Aussies are a cert. Sri Lanka are just the most exciting team and I think they will be spurred on and if they have a few batsman on form and if Vaas and Murali keep their form, they will get through. West Indies could win it and they will be led by Brian Lara who has just hit form.
"Their bowling is very weak but Jerome Taylor could be the man of the tournament. I went for India simply because of their players. They are not in great form, they have Harbhajan, Powar, Kumble, Sreesanth, Tendulkar and Dravid at their disposal so they should do well. If they don't make it then I will go for New Zealand."
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