It’s probably telling that with the amount of TV and internet coverage the game gets these days, there really isn’t the bolter-in-the-pack that we’ve come to expect from past tournaments. The glory days of most sports relied on hearing what others had done rather than see them for yourself, and their mystique only increased. With UDRS, slo-mo, hotspot and hawkeye the game’s been robbed of some of that mystery. Flat out, it may be the biggest and most satisfying surprise of the tournament could be an Australian run to the final or even the title. As a cricketing nation they’ve been told it’s well past bedtime, but with Tait, Lee and Johnson they have three bona-fide matchwinners. Unfortunately for the Skippies, they’re all bona-fide match-losers as well if their accuracy doesn’t hold up. The lack of a first-class spinner could hamper them, but of all the teams selected really only India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka have world-class ODI tweakers.
WC Surprise package: Australia?
Ahmed Shehzad. I watched the entire Pakistan-New Zealand ODI series. (Don’t ask me why, I just did). Of all the Pakistani batsmen, the only one that oozed confidence was this young lad Shehzad. May be it was the confidence that he was only facing the New Zealand bowlers or he was secure in his opening slot since the back up to him would’ve been Kamran Akmal, I do not know, but his batting seems to be destined for greatness. I expect him to score at least 1 century in the tournament and will not be surprised if it is two and is featured in the top 5-7 of highest run getters.
WC Surprise Package: Ahmed Shehzad
It seems almost bizarre to consider this player and team for such a title, especially when you consider their standing within the game. Nevertheless, it’s going to be done. The team in question has won 4 out of the 9 World Cups that have ever been played and they have also won the last 3 World Cups in 2007, 2003 and 1999. Despite such an imposing history, very few people are tipping Australia to win the upcoming tournament. They might have been humbled in dominant fashion by England in the recent Ashes encounter, but this perhaps shouldn’t be an indicator of their one-day prowess. As the crushing series victory over England which shortly followed testifies, Australia are a very tight one day unit with ability in every department and a winning mentality.
One of the brightest sparks to emerge from that one day series is the return of the sprightly looking Brett Lee who at 34 has had dreadful luck and been forced to retire from Test cricket. His energy on the field does not reflect his age. He is as hungry and as fired up as a pit-bull terrier you locked up, went on holiday and forgot to feed for a week.
Brett Lee is desperate to reclaim his standing as one of the most devastating one-day bowlers in the world and he will be the bright spark that Australia need if they are to make a serious impression in the World Cup.
WC Surprise Package: Brett Lee and Australia