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Just Not Cricket

Howzat? A bluffer's guide to the Cricket World Cup

Worried that your limited knowledge of limited overs cricket will be shown up over the next six weeks? Not to worry, we’ve got all the info you’ll need to enjoy this year’s Cricket World Cup.

WITH THE OPENING game of the Cricket World Cup mere minutes away, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to bring you the ins-and-outs of what to expect over the next six weeks. Welcome to the bluffer’s guide for the 2011 tournament.

The match

The tournament is made up of a series of one-day internationals, which means that in any given match, each side has one 50-over innings in which they attempt to rack up as many runs as possible. Each over contains six consecutive balls, usually bowled by a single bowler.

The match begins with a coin toss, with the winning captain deciding whether to “bat” or “field” first. Depending on weather conditions and his team’s strength, winning the toss can provide a significant tactical advantage.

Team A’s innings ends when they have completed their 50 overs or when all ten of their players are “out”, whichever comes sooner. Their runs are then tallied, setting a target which Team B must then try to pass in their own innings.

At the conclusion of Team B’s innings, the team’s respective scores are compared and the team with the highest amount of runs wins. If the two teams finish on the same amount of overs, the game is declared a tie.

The venues

This year’s tournament is being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

There are 13 stadia spread across three host nations, the largest of which is Eden Gardens in Kolkata (90,000), with the smallest being the Chittagong Divsional Stadium in Bangladesh (20,000). Eight of the stadia are located in India, 3 in Sri Lanka, 2 in Bangladesh.

The format

If you followed the Cricket World Cup in 2007 and understood the format then, you’re out of luck as the ICC have decided to introduce a new format introduced for this year. Don’t worry though, it’s fairly straightforward.

The fourteen teams have been divided into two groups of seven. For the first month of the tournament (19 Feb – 20 March), the teams will play the other teams in their group in a round-robin format, meaning that each nation is guaranteed at least six games regardless of their results.

Each team is awarded two points for a win, one for a draw, and a big fat zilch for a loss.

At the end of the round-robin stage, the top four sides from each group will progress to the quarter-finals. The quarter-final draw is seeded, so the best team in each group is drawn against the worst in the other group, the next best against the next worst, and so on until the four ties are decided.

The four quarter-final games will take place from 23 – 26 March, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals on the 29th and 30th,  with the final being played on 2 April in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

The Groups

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada, Kenya, Zimbabwe.

Group B: India, England, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland

Ireland’s schedule

25 February vs. Bangladesh (Dhaka); 2 March vs. England (Bangalore); 6 March vs. India (Bangalore); 11 March vs. West Indies (Mohali); 15 March vs. South Africa (Kolkata); 18 March vs. Netherlands (Kolkata).

So who’s going to win?

With home advantage on their side, India and Sri Lanka both have an edge over the other twelve competitors, and they have been installed as the bookies’ favourites at 3/1 and 7/2 respectively.

The Indian national side have a lot to prove after crashing out in the group stages in 2007, a disaster that nearly provoked mass unrest on the streets of India. These are people who like their cricket.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be hoping to pick up where they left off in 2007. On that occasion, they put together a great run which took them all the way to the final where they were ultimately trumped by Australia.

Other teams that cannot be ruled out are South Africa (5/1) and defending champions Australia (11/2), both of whom will fancy their chances, while England (7/1) and Pakistan (7/1) both deserve consideration as well.

If the winner comes from outside of those six, it can be considered something of a shock.

Just in case you were wondering, Ireland are currently available at odds of 500/1

Players to watch

On the batting side of affairs, Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar is one of the all-time greats. The 37-year-old is the leading run-scorer in one-day international cricket and he is also the only man to ever score a double century of 200 runs in a single game.

He’s alright.

If it’s a bowler you’re looking for, then look no further than Lasith Malinga. Known as “Malinga the Slinga” to you and me, the Sri Lankan has developed a cult following due to his rather unorthodox bowling action. It’s a little bit weird.

The 27-year-old really made a name for himself in the 2007 World Cup when he took four South African wickets with four successive deliveries. He is still the only player in international cricket history to do so.

Now that you’ve read our guide, share your thoughts with us. Who do you think will be crowned victorious on 2 April? Who are the players to watch? Will Ireland even manage to get past the group stages?

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