The ICC Cricket World Cup is upon us and will be played until March 29, a total of 14 countries will battle it out in Australia and New Zealand in the 50-overs-a-side contest.
Some thrilling games have already been played with India beating Pakistan by 76 runs which was viewed by over 1 billion people on TV around the world. But the shock result of the competition so far was Ireland beating the West Indies by 4 wickets!
Will India, champions in 1983 and 2011, win it a third time, or will hosts Australia, victors in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007, reign at home?
It is the opening of an incredible year for the sport with England v Australia in the Ashes from July 8 to August 24. Venues are the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff (July 8-12), Lord’s (July 16-20), Edgbaston (July 29 to August 2) Trent Bridge (August 6-10), and the KIA Oval (August 20-24).
And ahead of the Ashes we have New Zealand’s tour of England which begins on May 8.
Investec Test matches take place at Lord’s (May 21-25) and then Headingley (May 29 to June 2) before the focus shifts to the Royal London One-Day International series with Edgbaston (June 9), the Kia Oval (June 12), the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (June 14), Trent Bridge (June 17) and Emirates Durham ICG (June 20) all staging ODIs and Emirates Old Trafford hosting a NatWest T20I on June 23.
Eventmasters is thrilled to offer VIP corporate hospitality packages at Trent Bridge, the KIA Oval and Headingley.
But back to the World Cup.
The Big Guns are Australia, India, South Africa and England, with the pundits suggesting an Australia v India final is the most likely outcome. The most bonkers bet (but likely to make you a pile of money if it happened; which it won’t) being Afghanistan – they weren’t even a team 13 years ago – against Scotland, looking for an upset when they take on England.
But who will be the stars that catch the imagination of the passionate and excitable crowds.
South Africa have two of the all-time great limited overs batsmen in their side – AB de Villiers and one of the coolest player in the game, Hashim Amla, whose numbers are particularly impressive.
For England it has to be Jimmy Anderson – when he is bowling well England look formidable. The Midlands’ own Ian Bell is a classy batsman and has many admirers.
Will the Sri Lanka oldies post one last purple patch – Tillekaratne Dilshan, the silky skills of Mahela Jayawardene and the consistent Kumara Sangakkara.
India arrive at the World Cup not at their best. To do well they will need Virat Kohli to come good plus Ajinkya Rahane. MS Dhoni is still the master of the limited overs game and Rohit Sharma has the ability.
With Australia, look no further than David Warner and Steve Smith.
But there is also sure to be a relative unknown who breaks through into the big time, becoming a household name.
So who would be in your greatest one-day international XI of all time? Here are a few possible selections for you to ponder on.
Batsmen: Sachin Tendulkar (India); AB de Villiers (South Africa); Brian Lara (West Indies); Clive Lloyd (West Indies); Sir Viv Richards (West Indies).
Wicketkeepers: MS Dhoni (India); Adam Gilchrist (Australia).
All-rounders: Sir Ian Botham (England); Imran Khan (Pakistan); Jacques Kallis (South Africa); Lance Klusener (South Africa).
Bowlers: Joel Garner (West Indies); Dennis Lillee (Australia); Glenn McGrath (Australia); Wasim Akram (Pakistan); Waqar Younis (Pakistan); Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka); Shane Warne (Australia).