Schedule delay leaves World Cup without buzz five months out
With the match schedule still under wraps and the main title contenders preoccupied with test cricket, there is a distinct lack of buzz around the 50-overs World Cup five months out from its expected start in October.
The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) has said the dates and venues for the 13th edition of the showpiece tournament would be out in "due course" and the host Indian board maintains the same.
"The discussion with the ICC is going on and we'll soon announce the dates and venues," a senior official at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said.
That would come only after the Indian Premier League (IPL) concludes on May 28, according to media reports in India.
While the lack of information, which is unusual for a major sporting event, might be annoying for fans planning to travel to India it is unlikely to impact too match on the preparations of the eight teams already qualified.
England, who hold both white-ball World Cups, are the dominant force in short-format cricket even if their immediate focus is on reclaiming the Ashes from Australia in the test series beginning next month.
Jofra Archer is a doubt for that series because of a nagging elbow injury and white-ball captain Jos Buttler will be hoping the speedster is back to full fitness before the World Cup.
The reigning champions have also left the door open for Ben Stokes to return to the one-day fold if the all-rounder, the hero of the 2019 final, reconsiders his shock ODI retirement.
England's laboured 2-1 ODI series win in Bangladesh in March was followed by a shock 3-0 submission in the Twenty20 leg of that tour, which will have erased any trace of complacency.
India won the World Cup last time they hosted the tournament in 2011 but Rohit Sharma's side do not have a settled look.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been sidelined since September last year with a back injury and is missing the IPL as well as next month's World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia.
Stumper-batsman Rishabh Pant is likely to miss the World Cup as he continues to recover from multiple injuries sustained in a horrific car crash last December.
Five-time champions Australia are also preoccupied with the WTC final at the Oval, which will be followed quickly by the Ashes.
Pat Cummins and his men toured India earlier this year, losing the test series but prevailing in the one-dayers.
With 14 Australian cricketers, including several frontline players, involved in the IPL, at least the conditions will look familiar when they return for the World Cup.
Among the other hopefuls, New Zealand, who lost the 2019 final on boundary count, are almost certain to be without Kane Williamson after the skipper suffered a serious knee injury in the ongoing IPL.
Williamson's absence would make it the first ODI World Cup where not a single team returns with the same captain as they had in the previous edition.
While their best batsman may still travel as a team mentor, Tom Latham is likely to lead New Zealand ahead of test skipper Tim Southee.
"That's something that still needs to be worked out," coach Gary Stead said on Tuesday.
"Tim's captain in the test team as well, but Tom's had a lot of white-ball experience for us in the past."
Former champions Pakistan have grounds for optimism after their top order and pace attack fired them to a 4-1 series victory over a weakened New Zealand earlier this month.
Pakistan briefly held the number one ODI ranking during the series and skipper Babar Azam currently leads the batting rankings with team mates Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq also in the top four.
"Winning the series is great and so is achieving number one ranking that has set us in a good position for the World Cup," Babar said.
South Africa claimed the last direct qualification spot but former champions West Indies and Sri Lanka will compete with eight other teams for the remaining two slots for the tournament in India.