The obituaries for cricket’s 50-over game have been queued for some time. How do the sides stack up for the cricket World Cup 2011?


Overall: The Australian Test side might be a shambles, but the ODI outfit is in good nick. Whereas the Test side is short on depth, competition for places in the 50-over team is healthier, to the point where Australia left some useful players at home.

There’s plenty of batting talent and although Australia will miss Mike Hussey in the middle order, they appear to have found a handy replacement in his younger brother, David. Early wickets will be vital on docile sub-continental wickets, so the returning veteran Brett Lee will have plenty of chances to cover himself in glory.

Whether Shaun Tait fires or implodes will be equally decisive.

Key man: Shane Watson – can be a match-winner with the bat and his useful seam bowling, combined with a knack for taking wickets in the middle overs, gives Australia all-important flexibility.

Prediction: Semi-finals


Overall: Almost the reverse of Australia, England are ascendant in Test cricket but remain unconvincing in the 50-over game. Their batting is uneven and their bowling can lack penetration – England have suffered from picking too many all-rounders, most of whom failed to cut it.

At the top of the order, England still have players uncomfortable hitting over the field or accelerating from the beginning of their innings and almost to counteract that, designated hitters,
such as Matthew Prior, have been promoted but haven’t delivered.

Plenty of bowlers have been given chances, but few have been able to secure spots. England desperately need Stuart Broad fit and in form.

Key man: Kevin Pietersen – with Eoin Morgan out injured, KP must fire the middle order if England are to have a chance. Remains a match-winner on his day.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

New zealand

Overall: The Kiwis have endured a horrible 12 months in pretty much all forms of the game, but they remain capable of causing an upset.

Daniel Vettori has shouldered an exceptionally heavy burden in Test cricket but has more support in the 50-over game, where Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum can turn matches with the bat and Kyle Mills is an effective foil with the ball.

New Zealand also get more value from their all-rounders in the 50-over game. Whereas jack-of-all-trades can be neither here nor there in Test cricket, the likes of Jacob Oram can prove very useful in ODIs.

Key man:
Daniel Vettori – he’ll be bowing out as skipper at the end of the tournament despite propping up his developing side for the past year or so. Remains the most likely to skittle an opposing batting line-up cheaply.

Prediction: Quarter-finals

South Africa

Overall: Should be cherry-ripe to break their World Cup hoodoo. They boast the ideal mix of youth and experience, with stylish accumulators at the top of the order complemented by AB de Villiers and JP Duminy further down.

South Africa also boast a well-balanced bowling attack. Although Dale Steyn has never been as formidable in 50-over cricket as in the long form his pace and movement remain a handful. Morne Morkel’s bounce and control is also an asset, but it has been the emergence of Lonwabo Tsotsobe in the past 12 months that shapes as the real bonus for the Proteas.

Wisely, they have also selected a cadre of spinners to maximise their flexibility.

Key man: AB de Villiers – has emerged as one of the world’s most destructive limited-overs batsmen over the past two years and combines well with Hashim Amla and JP Duminy to form the explosive core of South Africa’s middle order.

Prediction: Runners-up to India