2023 Cricket World Cup: A Comprehensive Team-by-Team Preview – The 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is the 13th time this event is happening. It’s a big cricket game held every four years where men’s teams play. The International Cricket Council (ICC) manages this event. India will be the only country hosting this time, starting from 5 October to 19 November 2023.
India has shared hosting in years like 1987, 1996, and 2011 with neighboring countries. Now, ten stadiums in India will be used. The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the Eden Gardens in Kolkata will host the first and second semi-finals. The big final match will be at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Let’s dive into a simple look at each team.
2023 Cricket World Cup: A Comprehensive Team-by-Team Preview
India is hosting and is the top pick to win. However, other strong teams will make the competition exciting for the next six weeks.
Afghanistan’s Cricket Prospects and Key Players
Facing Afghanistan’s Spin Attack
Afghanistan’s spin attack, led by the formidable Rashid Khan, is a force to be reckoned with. They are likely to perform well on most Indian pitches.
In the 2019 World Cup, Afghanistan couldn’t secure a single win, even though they came close against India and Pakistan. Their ODI record against stronger teams is not impressive, and they are long overdue for a significant World Cup victory.
Meet the Coach: Jonathan Trott
Jonathan Trott, an unconventional choice as a white-ball coach due to his slower strike-rate during his England career, possesses a keen cricketing intellect. Interestingly, he is the only coach in the tournament who has never visited the country he represents.
Players to Keep an Eye On
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran form a dynamic opening partnership, capable of producing big innings. Their recent partnerships of 256 against Bangladesh and 223 against Pakistan demonstrate their potential to help Afghanistan defeat strong opponents.
Australia’s Cricket Outlook and Key Player
Australia’s Recent Performance
Australia has an impressive track record, winning four of the last six World Cups. However, they faced tough defeats against South Africa and India recently. Their batting lineup, including a resurgent Mitch Marsh, is strong and can score runs. However, their bowling squad, especially spin, seems thin, and the aging bowling attack will need to handle formidable opponents.
Meet the Coach: Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald is a low-key, well-rounded coach who takes a hands-on approach. Interestingly, he’s a fan of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, inspired by the movie Good Will Hunting. If Australia doesn’t perform well in India, the blame may fall on his shoulders.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc has been the leading wicket-taker in both of his previous World Cup appearances, amassing a remarkable total of 49 wickets at an average of 15. Even at 33, he possesses the speed, precision, and yorkers needed to dismantle the stumps, whether with the new ball or the old one. He remains a crucial asset for Australia’s campaign.
Bangladesh’s Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
Bangladesh’s Recent Form
Bangladesh’s cricket form has dipped after some remarkable performances in 2021 and 2022. The exclusion of the legendary Tamim Iqbal has sparked controversy and could potentially be a distraction. Their journey to the knockout rounds, even in Asian conditions, is expected to be challenging, but history suggests they can upset at least one strong team.
Meet the Coach: Chandika Hathurusingha
Chandika Hathurusingha, an open-minded but straightforward Sri Lankan, is in his second term as coach. He previously had a successful yet occasionally confrontational stint between 2014 and 2017. Interestingly, he named his son Cullen, reportedly after the legendary All Black, Christian Cullen.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Taskin Ahmed
Taskin Ahmed is a rare gem in Bangladesh—a high-caliber fast bowler. Taskin has elevated his game under the guidance of bowling coach Allan Donald. He possesses toughness, intelligence, skill, and ambition. Taskin played a crucial role in Bangladesh’s historic victory in South Africa last year and is the undisputed leader of their bowling attack.
England’s Cricket Outlook and Standout Player
England’s Last Hurrah
This marks the final chapter for a golden generation that introduced England to the joys of white-ball cricket. In 2019, England entered the World Cup as hosts and the undisputed world No. 1. Now, they rank fifth, but many consider them the second favorites. Jos Buttler leads the tournament’s oldest squad, tied with New Zealand. However, concerns linger over injuries to key bowlers. It would be a major surprise if these seasoned winners fail to reach the last four.
Meet the Coach: Matthew Mott
Matthew Mott, a relaxed and endlessly positive Australian, boasts an impressive track record, winning his last four World Cups (ODI and T20) with Australia’s women and England’s men, including two victories last year. Mott combines old-school values with a forward-thinking approach. He has a knack for fostering players’ potential, often over a casual beer, and possesses a down-to-earth psychological touch that helps players achieve the seemingly impossible.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Dawid Malan
Dawid Malan, an elegant but somewhat underappreciated opener, boasts career statistics (average of 61, strike rate of 96) that rival those of all-time greats. Until recently, Malan was considered a backup batter despite his remarkable record. However, he captured attention with a stellar performance against New Zealand last month. At the age of 36, this World Cup presents his last opportunity to rewrite the narrative of his unique England career.
India’s Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
India’s Favorable Outlook
As the tournament hosts and reigning world No. 1, India are emerging as strong favorites for the upcoming competition. The next six weeks may seem like a mere formality for them. India boasts batters capable of achieving double centuries, not just singles. Their diverse bowling attack recently dismantled Sri Lanka for a mere 50 runs in the Asia Cup final. It’s almost unthinkable that they won’t make it to the last four. However, their historically poor record in knockout games will be a point of scrutiny once they reach that stage.
Meet the Coach: Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid, one of the all-time cricket greats and a revered human being, faces the pressure of leading the team in a home tournament. During his playing days, he earned the nickname “The Wall” for his impenetrable defense and “Jammy” due to his father’s association with the jam-maker Kissan.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill is a magnificent stroke-maker known for consistently producing high-quality performances. Gill enters the World Cup with an astonishing record, boasting a batting average of 66 and a strike rate of 103 in 35 ODIs. His skills make him a player to watch for cricket enthusiasts worldwide.
Netherlands’ Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
Netherlands’ Challenge Ahead
Qualifying for the tournament was a significant achievement for the Netherlands, considering their 14th place in the ODI rankings. They have a well-rounded squad that blends youthful exuberance with experience, power with finesse. However, they are the clear underdogs in the competition. A single notable victory would make their journey worthwhile.
Meet the Coach: Ryan Cook
Ryan Cook is an analytical coach who focuses on achieving marginal gains and harboring big ambitions. He aims to take his team to the semi-finals and discourages the use of the term “associate” due to its connotations of inferiority. Cook, the son of the legendary South African opener Jimmy Cook, also draws inspiration from the philosophy of Dutch football genius Johan Cruyff, emphasizing Total Cricket.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Bas de Leede
\Bas de Leede is a stylish and fearless all-rounder, following in the footsteps of his father, Tim, who played in two World Cups. He arrives at the World Cup fresh from an outstanding debut season with Durham and an incredible performance against Scotland – scoring 123 runs off 92 balls and taking five wickets for 52 runs – which secured his place in the World Cup squad. His dynamic abilities make him a player worth watching during the tournament.
New Zealand’s Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
New Zealand’s Bid for Glory
New Zealand, the runners-up in the last two tournaments and the only team to reach the semi-finals in the past four editions, is a cricketing force to be reckoned with. However, there’s a growing sense that they might be past their prime. Despite their consistent performance, it’s important not to label them as “underrated” since that’s a tag they’ve heard too often, making it less fitting
Meet the Coach: Gary Stead
Gary Stead is an exceptionally thorough coach who has experienced the heartbreak of losing two World Cup finals against England at Lord’s: first in the T20 format with the White Ferns in 2009 and then in the ODI format with the Black Caps in 2019. It’s a twist of fate for someone who, in 1990, used to clean the windows of the Lord’s Pavilion and sell scorecards while working on the MCC groundstaff.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Trent Boult
Trent Boult is a masterful left-arm swing bowler known for his ability to outsmart batsmen with his skill and intelligence, particularly with the new ball. After a year in the franchise circuit, he made his return to the team in September and promptly took eight wickets against England in two games. His performance will be closely watched as New Zealand aims for success in the tournament.
Pakistan’s Cricket Outlook and Standout Player
Pakistan’s Unpredictable Journey
Pakistan has a knack for turning the extraordinary and the bizarre into stepping stones for their cricketing journeys. Predicting their performance in this World Cup is a futile exercise, as they tend to defy expectations. They have the world’s No. 1 batsman in Babar Azam and, despite a costly injury to Naseem Shah, a bowling attack that could penetrate Fort Knox. Currently ranked second in the world, they faltered in the recent Asia Cup.
Meet the Coach: Grant Bradburn
Grant Bradburn, a laid-back New Zealander, previously enjoyed considerable success coaching Scotland from 2014 to 2018. In a unique twist, he once took to busking during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on a day off. Bradburn has introduced a system called “The Pakistan Way,” which essentially translates to Bazball under a less catchy name. Perhaps they could rebrand it as Zindabazball for added flair.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Babar Azam
Babar Azam, a stylish and remarkably consistent No. 3 batsman, is a standout player. He holds the distinction of having scored more ODI runs at a higher average than even Virat Kohli. However, some remain unsatisfied with Babar’s strike rate. Whether he maintains his form while shouldering the pressure of being the Pakistan captain in India could prove to be a decisive factor in the tournament.
South Africa’s Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
South Africa’s World Cup Quest
In 16 attempts spanning both white-ball formats, South Africa has never reached a World Cup final, making optimism a cautious endeavor. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be hopeful. South Africa boasts a formidable batting lineup and a diverse and potent bowling attack, positioning them as contenders for a spot in the semi-finals. The word here is “should.”
Meet the Coach: Rob Walter
Rob Walter, appointed as a white-ball only coach earlier in the year, has instilled a new attacking spirit in his team, particularly with the bat. No team has scored more rapidly this year. However, the true test awaits in the form of a World Cup, where the psychological challenges often prove to be a stumbling block.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Heinrich Klaasen
Heinrich Klaasen, making his World Cup debut at the age of 32, is an exceptional hitter in the death overs, arguably one of the best globally. His recent exploits include a breathtaking 174 runs off 83 balls against Australia, showcasing his ability to single-handedly change the course of a match.
Sri Lanka’s Cricket Prospects and Standout Player
Sri Lanka’s Strong Contender Status
Sri Lanka emerged victorious in the qualifying tournament held in Zimbabwe, establishing themselves as the best of the four underdogs. They continued their success by reaching the Asia Cup final ahead of Pakistan, although they faced a setback when India skittled them for just 50 runs. Sri Lanka’s strength lies in their bowling, although the injury to the brilliant leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga is a significant setback.
Meet the Coach: Chris Silverwood
Chris Silverwood, who had limited success with England both as a player and head coach, has expanded his horizons by coaching Sri Lanka. He secured a notable victory by guiding Sri Lanka to victory in the T20 Asia Cup last year. He is also known for his amiable demeanor and holds a black belt in karate, making him one of the world’s more genial karate practitioners.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Maheesh Theekshana
Maheesh Theekshana is a mystery finger spinner with an extensive repertoire of tricks, including the elusive reverse carrom ball. Despite being a less than stellar fielder, Theekshana’s exceptional bowling talent shines through. He claimed 21 wickets at an astonishing average of 12 in the qualifying tournament. His inclusion in the squad, despite a hamstring injury that may sideline him for the early games, underscores his importance to the team.