If you’re an American sports fan, chances are you’re gearing up for the NBA Finals, ready to watch the Stanley Cup Finals, or just caught up in the middle of baseball season. But for billions of fans around the world, the summer is about to be dominated by the Cricket World Cup.
The Cricket World Cup 2019 begins on Thursday in England and Wales, with host nation England set to play South Africa in the first match of the tournament.
Even compared to other major international competitions, the Cricket World Cup is a very long event. Most days feature only one match to watch, and the finals won’t be played until July 14 at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
Before that can happen, the 10 teams contending for a world championship will play a full round-robin, with the top four teams making the knockout stage. It’s a long slog that gives fans and gamblers plenty of opportunities to bet on the action as it unfolds.
You might not realize that the United States does have a team that competes in the One Day International (ODI) style of cricket that will be played at the World Cup. But it probably won’t come as a shock that the USA isn’t one of the strongest cricket nations in the world, and that it didn’t qualify for the tournament.
Instead, it’s England that has taken on the role of favorite for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. William Hill lists the hosts as 15/8 favorites to lift the trophy, in what would be England’s first championship in the event after three runner-up finishes.
But while England may be ranked No. 1 in the world in ODI play, captain Eoin Morgan says that actually winning the title will be a tough challenge.
“Nobody is head and shoulders above everyone else,” Morgan said during a press conference featuring the team captains. “These are the 10 best teams in the world, it will be extraordinarily competitive and some quality cricket will be played, so we are really looking forward to it.”
England’s biggest challenger is expected to be India, which has twice won the Cricket World Cup in 1983 and 2011. India is an 11/4 pick to win this year, with defending champions Australia (4/1) installed as the third choice.
But while all three sides are formidable, even the captains of the other top squads pointed to England as the team to beat.
“England have been in great form for a number of years and you have to say they are definitely favorites,” Australian captain Aaron Finch told reporters. “If you look over the past couple of years, their scores have been going up and up.”
Other contenders include South Africa (9/1), New Zealand (10/1), Pakistan (10/1), and the West Indies (12/1).
While fans on all of those nations will be keen to bet on the Cricket World Cup, the tournament isn’t likely to attract much attention from sportsbooks in the United States. And even if you wanted to follow along with the action, watching matches might be difficult: in America, only Willow TV – a paid station devoted to cricket – will carry the games.