20 teams battle it out for the trophy that England claimed in Australia just two years agoSTORM MACHINE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

There are many reasons to be excited for the T20 World Cup next month. Firstly, it’s cricket: the sun is out, the Pimm’s is poured, and your uncle has taken his top off and fallen asleep in a camping chair. However, the most highly anticipated aspect of this cricketing summer is that, for the first time, World Cup cricket will strike the shores of America as 20 teams battle it out for the trophy that England claimed in Australia just two years ago. This opens up a new market for the shortest format of cricket because, if there’s a country that loves business opportunities, it’s our friends across the pond. While test cricket is often branded as “boring” or “too long” by some misinformed ignoramuses, 20-over cricket is exciting to a viewer who may have little cricketing knowledge, and just wants to see some big hitting, similar to baseball in the USA. So, if perhaps you’re sick of talking to your family about “how much work Cambridge makes you do” and want to impress them with a bit of knowledge, here is your preview of a World Cup that promises horror, hilarity, and hot dog stands.

Group A: Canada, India, Ireland, Pakistan, USA

This is Canada’s first time in the World Cup, ranked 23rd globally. Realistically, it is a mammoth achievement for them to have qualified in the first place and I wouldn’t expect them to make it out of their group. Yet, their fixture against the USA (El Clasicoca-cola?) will be an intriguing derby and certainly worth a watch. Likelihood of winning: 1/10.

India are top of the world rankings, and it’s therefore very hard to look past them as potential winners. Their star power, particularly Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, will be intimidating to any team, and if the Indian Premier League (IPL) is anything to go by, they are in red-hot form. There have been recent disappointments in ICC competitions for the Indian team, especially with last year’s ODI World Cup loss on home soil, so they will be desperate to make amends. Likelihood of winning: 8/10.

Ireland have slowly worked their way up the rankings to 11th this year and will want to ruffle some feathers. Captain Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie are your batsmen to watch, while pace-bowler Josh Little has played in the IPL this year so has the experience to make some waves. I don’t see them progressing far in this tournament, but they only need a glimmer of hope to spring a shock; don’t count them out just yet. Likelihood of winning: 3/10.

Pakistan have dropped off in this format recently, despite having world-class Babar Azam, the fiery Shaheen Afridi and the classy Mohammad Rizwan. Internal conflicts and politics have got in the way of a talented squad, and therefore I expect them to fall short of expectations and perhaps be shocked by one of the competition’s minnows. Likelihood of winning: 5/10.

Lastly, the good ol’ USA, ranked 19th in the world. This is their first time in the World Cup, by virtue of being co-hosts. Their aim may not be to win matches, but to excite the crowd and popularise the sport within the minds of the fans, whilst still trying to go toe-to-toe with the giants of the game. Yet, with the team ranked just seven places above Jersey in the world (yes, the tax-dodging island above France), winning against any of this group will be a tough ask. Likelihood of winning: 1/10.

Group B: Australia, England, Namibia, Oman, Scotland

Despite being ranked 2nd under India currently, the Australians have an infuriating knack for performing on the biggest stage, as shown by their ODI victory last year. Although I was disappointed by the omission of young hotshot Jake Fraser-McGurk, the Aussies are favourites for me, particularly with the aggressive form of Travis Head. He is the one to watch in this star-studded team including Marsh, Cummins, and Maxwell. Likelihood of winning: 9/10.

Right, England. Ranked 3rd, I have high hopes for this team, bolstered by the swashbuckling Phil Salt, who has seized the incentive of Alex Hales’s former opening role. The return of Jofra Archer can only be a good thing, and if Jos Buttler finds his form, then this is a very difficult team to beat. Likelihood of winning: 8/10.

As they are ranked 14th in the world, Namibia will find it very tricky to win against these two titans of the game, but have made appearances in the last two World Cups, so are certainly not newbies. All-rounder David Wiese has played a lot in England and so will be familiar with their style of play, nevertheless, they don’t seem to present much of a challenge. Likelihood of winning: 4/10.

I will be very honest with you, I don’t know much about cricket in Oman, but they are ranked above the USA in 18th. If you want to wow the in-laws, they are captained by Aqib Ilyas. With the expanded format this year, more teams like Oman will have the chance to learn from the best teams in the world, and I look forward to seeing them develop throughout the competition. Likelihood of winning: 2/10.

Ranked 13th, Scotland have big-hitting George Munsey and the bowling duo of Watt and Wheal to give their squad some much-needed experience. I don’t think they will be in a position to trouble the larger sides but will certainly be looking to finish 3rd in this group. Likelihood of winning: 3/10.

Group C: Afghanistan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, West Indies

It has been a difficult year for 10th-placed Afghanistan. Political turmoil within the country has led to Australia boycotting their series in protest, which means their squad is rather disorganised. Nevertheless, this team is stacked with flair, starting with the explosive Rahmunullah Gurbaz. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman can turn the ball on a sixpence, leaving batsmen looking like they’re trying to swat flies with a toothpick. Likelihood of winning: 4/10.

New Zealand are always dark horses. Williamson’s leadership is ice-cold and when players like Daryl Mitchell fire, you’ll know about it. Keep your eyes on Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips for some fireworks that could propel the 5th-ranked team to an unlikely victory. Likelihood of winning: 7/10.

Papua New Guinea, 20th in the world, have already had a busy year after playing Oman and Nepal. This competition will be good to continue building their team and be able to feel the atmosphere of the biggest cricket competition on earth while doing so. Likelihood of winning: 2/10.

This is a hugely exciting time for Uganda, as it is their first World Cup. Ranked 22nd in the world, they are the lowest-ranked team in the competition and therefore unlikely to battle it out for the trophy. However, they are a hugely passionate team and will undoubtedly show some funky celebrations and some fan favourite moments. Likelihood of winning: 1/10.

Co-hosts, the West Indies, have a much better shot. Having moved up to 6th in the world rankings and recently beaten England in a series, they are well-placed to make an impact in this tournament. Led by Rovman Powell, and with the flair of Nicolas Pooran and Shamar Joseph, they may just be ready to regain that title they won in 2016. Likelihood of winning: 6/10.

Group D: Bangladesh, Nepal, Netherlands, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Bangladesh are now 9th in the world and have a very experienced squad going into this World Cup. In this slightly weaker group, you would give them decent odds of progressing, especially with the veteran Shakib Al Hasan, although they may lack the ruthlessness to tackle the bigger teams. Likelihood of winning: 5/10.

A bit of trivia for you, 17th-ranked Nepal have the record for the highest score in IT20s – 314/3 against Mongolia. Don’t expect them to be scoring similarly in this tournament, as these teams will be more of a mountain to climb (haha). It will, however, be a valuable experience for all their players. Likelihood of winning: 2/10.

The Netherlands always give a good show on the international stage and may have a chance of fighting for 2nd in this group. Look out for the all-rounders Logan van Beek and Bas de Leede, whose heroics could give the 15th-best team in the world a chance to progress. Likelihood of winning: 3/10.


Mountain View

Why I’m bowled over by college cricket

South Africa have had disappointing campaigns in the last few years but will hope their in-form players will give them a shot given their easier group. Watch out for the fireworks from Heinrich Klaasen and pace from Nortje and Rabada. At 4th in the world, this team has a lot of talent, but will they hold their bottle? Likelihood of winning: 7/10.

Finally, 8th in the world, Sri Lanka. Wanindu Hasaranga is a huge asset to the team, and if the batting of Pathum Nissanka is strong, Sri Lanka could challenge for the top of the group. Yet, to me, their batting seems too inconsistent to expect much more than that. Likelihood of winning: 5/10.

So, there is your Varsity preview of the T20 World Cup, starting June 1. Australia are the favourites for me, but the beauty of cricket is that anything can happen. Remember, exams aren’t everything, so make sure you close the book and open the laptop every so often to check if my predictions were right, or (more likely) horribly inaccurate.