The 10th Cricket World Cup, comprising 49 matches and lasting six weeks, gets underway tomorrow with Kent’s James Tredwell hoping to play a key part. With the tournament held in Asia, the off-spin bowler will be looking to take his place in the national side as spin looks set to make or break the competition.
Host nations India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have an abundance of slow bowlers in their teams, with MS Dhoni’s Indian side fielding no less than four in their warm-up game against Australia. The trend has been set and all other nations look set to follow meaning Tredwell should be in line to play a starring role alongside premier spinner Graeme Swann and left-armer Michael Yardy.
Andrews Strauss’s men have been placed in a very tough Group B alongside India, much-fancied South Africa, the enigmatic West Indies, the unpredictable Bangladesh, the dangerous Ireland and the Dutch, who shocked England during the 2009 T20 World Cup. The top four, which means qualification to the quarter-finals, should be within England’s reach despite a demoralising recent 6-1 series defeat to Australia and a rush of injuries to major players. The 27 year-old Tredwell will be looking to use his guile and ability to take the pace off the ball to use local conditions to his advantage and add to his haul of three ODI caps.
The tournament looks set to be played in front of passionate crowds as the Asian public create a vibrant atmosphere, and, alongside Tredwell, Kent fans will have many familiar faces to follow as many former overseas players have been selected to star in the tournament. The South Africans have arguably the most potent pace attack and that is boosted by Morne Morkel and left-armer Wayne Parnell, who both had productive spells at the St Lawrence Ground. Sri Lanka, who will be looking to make the most of home advantage, have the mercurial Muttiah Muralitharan and speedster Lasith Malinga in their ranks. Dwayne Bravo will be looking to fire the under-achieving West Indies into contention and, of course, there is the chirpy Irish wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien. The pugnacious left-hander smashed 72 when Ireland shocked the world by beating Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day during the 2007 tournament, and is now an integral part of the Northants team since leaving the St Lawrence Ground four years ago.
Minnows will play their part in the competition as well, in their recent warm-up game England stumbled past Canada by 16 runs, with Tredwell contributing an unbeaten 11 with the bat. He also took 1-36 in an economical eight over spell to stake his claim, proving there are no pushovers. Ireland have caused major upsets in previous tournaments, disposing of the West Indies in 2003 and Pakistan last time around. Kenya have also been a tricky side to beat and Zimbabwe are improving again.
Group A is arguably the slightly easier of the two with Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand looking to out-muscle Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada and progress to the quarter-finals.
Big totals are expected throughout, and India have already set their stall out battering 360 against the Kiwis recently. The likes of newly promoted opener Kevin Pietersen, master blaster Dhoni (108 off 64 balls for the Indians) and Sri Lankan Tilikaratne Dilshan are all tipped to shine brightest on cricket’s biggest stage. Our very own Tredwell will be looking for his chance to get amongst them and show the world his worth on the international stage alongside the spinners that look set to shape the competition as Murali, Harbhajan Singh and Swann all look set to play starring roles in a tournament that could revive flagging ODI cricket.
Group B – all start times shown at GMT
Tuesday, 22 February v Netherlands – Nagpur (d/n), 9am
Sunday, 27 February v India – Bangalore (d/n), 9am
Wednesday, 2 March v Ireland – Bangalore (d/n), 9am
Sunday, 6 March v South Africa – Chennai, 9am
Friday, 11 March v Bangladesh – Chittagong (d/n), 8.30am
Thursday, 17 March v West Indies – Chennai (d/n), 9am