With a swing of the willow and a sweet strike of the cherry, cricket’s greatest event on the planet, the ICC Cricket World Cup, is all set to get underway today at its birthplace -- the United Kingdom. We, the 160 million people of Bangladesh, are not going to be mere spectators of the game like the FIFA World Cup because we have our Tigers to roar at cricket’s greatest carnival. Love it or hate it, the fans are starting to believe in Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and his troops’ pursuit of fulfilling a dream. You will have to throw away all the logic and stats when you ask any Bangladesh supporter: Who will win the 12th version of the event in the United Kingdom? The ‘Big Five’ is the current buzz word in our cricket fraternity. There is hardly any doubt that cricket fever will grip every nook and cranny of the country during the 46-day extravaganza. From posh office blocks to local tea stalls, no discussion will be complete without cricket, confining the anguish and joys of daily-life to the back-seat.
But all those emotions, the analysis from pundits to a layman, the imaginary plots regarding the prospects and chances of teams have been virtually chalked out in a vacant field so far. Now it’s time for reality. When the mega event gets underway on the lush green grounds of the United Kingdom, new dreams will be born, many will be broken and new analysis and equations will come to the fore.
Though it is risky business to predict which team will plunder and which one will capitulate, many have batted in favour of hosts England, who recently proved that 300-run chase is a joke for them. India are considered the most complete team by far while one cannot simply dismiss five-time champions Australia no matter what recent stats tell you. Then there is the West Indies, who just squeezed into the tournament through the qualifying phase, but have the strongest squad in their disposal in a decade. Pakistan are as always unpredictably brilliant while some suggest South Africa might be able to finally shed the chokers’ tag. New Zealand, after having reached the final last time, are dubbed as strong contenders and it will be good advice to follow the Afghan magic.
There might be different opinions over teams’ chances considering their strength and weakness but pundits concur on one point and that is that this is going to be the most exciting and entertaining World Cup due to its format, where teams go head-to-head with each other in a single-round group phase.
At an age when the high-octane T20 cricket has relegated the 50-over format to the secondary list of fans priority, 46 days of exciting and entertaining one-day cricket can help revive the format’s old charm and the exploits of the Tigers will definitely add to that.