This week sees the Cricket World Cup return to the UK for the first time since 1999 amid a sense of optimism that the hosts could finally win it.
England go into the tournament as favourites, but many fans will remain happy as long as there’s plenty of action to cheer over the next six weeks.
Here we’ve crunched the numbers from all One Day Internationals since the last World Cup to highlight the players, teams and venues that provide the surest guarantees of entertainment.
Who is in the best form?
It’s not just home advantage that’s driving England’s flattering price in the betting: they’ve won two thirds of their matches against the other nine teams since the last World Cup in 2015, which is significantly better than their historical showing of around half.
While old rivals and defending champions Australia are also among the favourites, they’ve struggled to grind out results in recent years and have a win rate worryingly similar to that of Bangladesh.
In Jos Buttler, England possess the biggest hitter of any player to have faced at least 500 balls since the last tournament, and Pakistan – their second opponents in the group stage – he will have a chance to demonstrate his potency against a team who have allowed him a strike rate of over 150.
The hosts should be careful when bowling, however, as three of the seven regular bowlers with the worst economy rates are within their ranks.
Who are each team’s big hitters?
The good news for neutral spectators is that every team at the tournament possesses at least one batsman with a strike rate of over 100 in One Day Internationals since the last World Cup.
England are the only participant with more than two, however as along with the aforementioned Buttler they have Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and Moeen Ali, who have all faced at least 500 balls and registered more than one run per ball on average.
Where will we see the most runs?
Looking back across all One Day Internationals played in England, the rare inclusion of Taunton as a venue could be a masterstroke. While only three matches have been played there to date, the average run rate of 5.53 per over is the best of any ground.
For those seeking a more established venue, Southampton is a narrow second, but some illustrious grounds such as Old Trafford and Edgbaston have witnessed far lower run rates and should be avoided by any thrill-seekers.
Combining each team’s recent run rates – for and against – with those of each venue allows us to rank each fixture in the Group Stage by how likely we are to see a big score.
The pick of the bunch is England’s match with the West Indies in Southampton on June 14, where the data suggests a run rate of 5.63 should be expected.
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