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The 11th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup will get under way on Saturday 14 February with 14 teams competing all over Australia and New Zealand for the limited-overs title.
In recent months value thieves have sucked the life out of Australia’s ICC Cricket World Cup odds (we tipped the Aussies at 11/4 3.75 +275 2.75 2.75 -0.36 ) and New Zealand has attracted attention as well. One is inclined to think that the ICC Cricket World Cup title market is correct and that punters in search of a value bet need to look elsewhere.
Few ICC Cricket World Cup exotic markets generate as much talk and turnover as the one regarding the tournament’s top run scorer. Limited-overs cricket is all about scoring runs so it is only natural that the batsmen who score fifties and centuries become the stars of the event. Luckily, this is an ICC Cricket World Cup exotic market in which one thinks that there is a strong case for one of the betting favourites.
First, an opening batsman has been the ICC Cricket World Cup top run scorer in seven of the 10 editions, including each of the last three. One draws particular attention to the statistic about the last three ICC Cricket World Cup events because the tournament expanded to 14 sides in 2003 and then to 16 sides in 2007 before contracting to 14 sides in 2011. At the risk of offending cricket fans in countries such as Afghanistan, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, teams from those nations are there simply to make up the numbers and provide cannon fodder for the legitimate ICC Cricket World Cup contenders. One is willing to bet that one or more openers will go big against one of the ICC Cricket World Cup minnows, thereby making it very tough for a batsman playing at number three or lower to take out the individual award.
And second, the ICC Cricket World Cup draw is such that there is one pool with two bad sides and one pool with three bad sides. ICC Cricket World Cup Pool B contains Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe and, therefore, that is the pool on which to concentrate. Also, neither Pakistan nor West Indies looks like testing the really strong teams.
So one is looking for either a India or South Africa opener – probably a Proteas batsman because the Indians are out of form as a side – who is in excellent form. One cannot quite understand why South Africa opener Hashim Amla, arguably the form batsman in international cricket, is not the clear ICC Cricket World Cup top run scorer favourite. Amla is trading at odds of 10/1 11.00 +1000 10.00 10.00 -0.10 with several bookmakers, including Bet365, BetVictor and SkyBet, and he is the standout candidate.
Amla had a January to remember, scoring 514 in six innings versus the West Indies in South Africa, carrying his bat in three of those knocks for an monthly average of 171.33 runs.
And Amla’s form is not as flash in the pan. Amla is ranked second on the ICC One Day International Batting Rankings, testament to his outstanding performances over a lengthy period of time. Amla’s South Africa colleague, AB de Villiers, is ranked first but it will be one’s headline selection who will be the first cab off the rank when the Proteas play Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.
ICC Cricket World Cup history shows that, since the addition of second-tier teams into the competition, only one top run scorer – Matthew Hayden in 2007 – did not fill his boots against one or more minnows. And Hayden more than made up for that by smashing three tons versus established sides.
South Africa’s first ICC Cricket World Cup game will be against Zimbabwe on Sunday 15 February and it will be the first David versus Goliath clash of the tournament.