Everything you need to know about the 2011 Cricket World Cup
Time Out Bahrain staff
The ICC 2011 Cricket World Cup is the tenth and arguably the most important in the history of the event. When first staged in 1975, it was a fresh affair designed to showcase a much shorter (50-over) form of cricket than the traditional five-day test match. But since the recent rise of the even shorter and more dynamic 20/20, 50-over cricket has started to look a bit pedestrian.
So a well-organised and competitive World Cup should provide an overdue shot in the arm to the 50-over game. Sadly, that didn’t happen at the last World Cup in the Caribbean four years ago – a tournament marred by administrative errors, interminable length and continuing Australian superiority on the field.
This time around the co-hosts India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – three cricket-crazy nations – get the chance to apply some sub-continental shine to the event. (Pakistan was originally due to co-host, but a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009 put paid to that.)
Fortunately, some lessons have been learnt from 2007. This year’s cup, which lasts from February 19 until April 2, when the final will take place in Mumbai, is slightly shorter in terms of duration. The structure has been modified to ensure that big attractions, such as India, don’t go home early.
The 14 competing teams are initially divided into two groups of seven for a round-robin, with each team playing the other six in its group to determine who will progress to the knock-out stages.
The history of the Cricket World Cup is one of Australian dominance. The winners of the last three events, in 2007, 2003 and 1999, the Aussies also triumphed in 1987. Three teams from the sub-continent have also previously won the event: Sri Lanka (1996), Pakistan (1992) and India (1983). The first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, were won by the West Indies.
Teams to watch
Australia The World Cup has been gold and green for the past 12 years, but Australia’s hold on the trophy looks uncertain. The retirement of players like wicketkeeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist, opening batsman Matthew Hayden and bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne has utterly depleted the Aussies. And confidence is at rock-bottom after a drubbing by England in the Ashes series. Prediction: semi-finalists.
England This could well be England’s year. A first World Cup triumph is long overdue, and England cuurently has all of its players in good form and brimming with confidence after retaining the Ashes in Australia with apparent ease. The biggest problem may be deciding who to leave out of the side. Prediction: possible winners.
India The weight of expectation will be crushing, but India’s superstars are used to it. Every cricket fan in India will accept nothing less than victory in Mumbai on April 2. And, with an excellent captain like MS Dhoni at the helm, and the legendary Tendulkar playing in his last World Cup, we can expect the team to rise to the occasion in style. Prediction: runners-up.
South Africa The South Africans will be keen to lose their reputation as chokers following dramatic flops at the semi-final stage of previous World Cups. With some of the best one-day players in the world in their side, including Hashim Amla, 50-over cricket’s leading batsman in 2010, the Proteas can match any team in terms of skill. Prediction: semi-finalists. Again!
Pakistan What a story it would be if Pakistan, stripped of the right to co-host the event and forced to play its home games in exile, were to win the World Cup on Indian soil. The outrageously gifted captain, Shahid Afridi, believes his players perform best with their backs to the wall. Prediction: brilliant winners or abject failures.
The other teams taking part: West Indies Sri Lanka New Zealand Bangladesh Ireland Canada The Netherlands Kenya Zimbabwe
Sachin Tendulkar India’s batting genius is 37 now and arguably the only true great currently playing the game. Written off not so long ago, Sachin enjoyed another record-breaking season in 2010, scoring his 50th century in test match cricket and making an unprecedented double hundred in a 50-over match. Since his debut against Pakistan in 1989, the little genius has scored over 17,000 runs in one-day cricket, including 46 centuries. A perfect end to a perfect career would be triumph at home in Mumbai on April 2.
Hashim Amla South Africa’s Indian-born batsman has a brilliant record in 50-over cricket. In fact, his impressive average of nearly 60 makes him the best player in the world in ODIs. On top of that, the devout Muslim relishes playing in India, where he has proved almost impossible to get out. Crucially, Amla scores at nearly a run a ball – the holy grail in 50-over cricket. In 2010 he failed to score above 30 on only one occasion.
Chris Gayle West Indies’ former captain is capable of hitting a cricket ball further than anyone else playing the game today, although Pakistan’s captain Shahid Afridi might disagree with that. When the chilled-out Jamaican is in the mood, he can rapidly take the game away from the opposition with a violent barrage of fours and sixes. Stripped of a team captaincy he never really wanted, Gayle is free again to enjoy what he does best – being the West Indies’ master blaster.
Rules of 50-over cricket
Two teams of 11 play one innings each. An innings consists of 50 overs of batting and bowling. An over is a series of six balls bowled by bowlers at batsmen. The bowlers try to get the batsmen out (‘take wickets’). The batsmen try to score (‘make runs’) by hitting the ball and running. Batsmen can get out (‘dismissed’) in a number of ways, eg bowled, caught or LBW (‘leg before wicket’). Runs are scored individually (‘singles’) or in boundaries. A boundary is the perimeter of the field of play. When a batsmen hits the ball to the boundary, a ‘four’ is scored. If the ball reaches the boundary without touching the field, a ‘six’ is scored.
Where to watch
The first match of the Cricket World Cup will take place on Feb 19, with the competition lasting until the final at the beginning of April. The following venues will be showing the main matches of the competition, although we advise you to call to confirm before you head there.