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Cricket World Cup 2023: Team-By-Team Guides & Players To Watch (Part 1)

Lwanele Poswayo looks at each of the ten teams contesting this year’s cricket World Cup and the players to watch, with hosts India as strong favourites.

Cricket World Cup Players Watch

Excitement is building for the 2023 Cricket World Cup with only a couple of days left before the tournament gets underway. Lwanele Poswayo looks at each of the ten teams contesting this year’s cricket World Cup and the players to watch, with hosts India as strong favourites.

In this piece, we’ll be looking at the first five teams contesting this year’s showpiece.

Australia (5.50)


Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc


Australia, the 2015 World Cup champions on home soil, enter the 2023 edition as the third-ranked ODI team. Remarkably, just a few weeks ago, they held the number one ranking until series losses to South Africa and India bumped them down the ladder.

In addition to their ODI prowess, Australia’s recent T20 World Cup triumph in the UAE highlights their proficiency in white-ball cricket. The setback against India in a recent 2-1 series loss, however, could serve as valuable experience, especially for their bowling unit that had been dealing with injuries post-Ashes.

Nevertheless, injuries have become a cause for concern in the Australian camp. The bowlers may still be recovering when the World Cup commences, while Glenn Maxwell is working towards full fitness, and Travis Head is expected to miss the initial stages of the tournament due to a hand injury.

Head’s absence creates a bit of a puzzle, prompting Mitchell Marsh to move up the order, which opens the door for Marnus Labuschagne to stake his claim in the starting XI. Labuschagne impressed during his stint in South Africa after initially being left out of the preliminary World Cup squad.

If Australia can navigate through the early challenges, nurse their players back to full health, and build on the lessons learned from the India series, they undoubtedly remain strong contenders. The thrilling series against South Africa showcased their capabilities and entertaining style of ODI cricket, with high-scoring encounters potentially favouring Australia in the World Cup.

Player to Watch: Mitchell Marsh

Australia’s journey in the early stages of the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE was far from impressive. They seemed to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of batting prowess and game strategy.

However, a turning point came when David Warner found his form, and the emergence of Mitchell Marsh changed the narrative. Together, they powered Australia to the final and orchestrated a demolition of New Zealand’s spirited bowling effort to claim the title.

In the final, Marsh remained unbeaten with a magnificent 77, boasting a tournament strike rate of 146.82. This performance was the realization of his immense potential and promise.

Since that triumphant moment, Marsh has continued to solidify his reputation as a crucial member of the Australian white-ball squad. He also made a remarkable return to Test cricket with a brilliant century during the Ashes at Headingley.

With his physical fitness finally holding up and his game in excellent shape, Marsh could very well be the linchpin for Australia, first at the top of the order and then settling back into his customary number three position as the tournament progresses.

Afghanistan (67.00)


Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Riaz Hassan


Afghanistan, despite their relatively short cricket history, boasts a squad of experienced and highly regarded franchise stars, which positions them as contenders for a deep run in an ICC event.

However, they have yet to bridge that gap to consistent success. The upcoming World Cup in India presents a promising opportunity, especially if they encounter turning pitches.

Their bowling arsenal is well-equipped for spin-friendly conditions, with the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman leading a formidable group of spin bowlers. Additionally, they have the pace covered with the impressive Fazalhaq Farooqi.

In terms of batting, Afghanistan’s lineup may lack the same star quality, placing significant responsibility on the opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. Gurbaz, with IPL experience, is known for his aggressive strokeplay and ability to provide fast starts. Meanwhile, Zadran typically assumes the anchor role and boasts an impressive record of four centuries from 19 matches in this format.

Player to Watch: Rashid Khan

When it comes to star quality, there are very few who can rival the incredible talent of Rashid Khan, regardless of the star-studded squads he’s part of.

In simple terms, Rashid is a cricket phenomenon, and his name is among the most sought-after in the franchise cricket circuit. This holds true even in the IPL, where he previously excelled with the Sunrisers Hyderabad and has continued to shine with the Gujarat Titans. Under his influence, the Titans clinched an IPL title and reached another final in just two years since the franchise’s establishment.

Rashid is a wrist spinner known for his remarkable speed. His economy rate in ODIs stands at an impressive 4.21, while in T20Is, it’s a miserly 6.16. His strike rate is consistently healthy across all formats, and even when opposing teams attempt to neutralize his threat by minimizing risk, it often results in opportunities for his teammates at the other end of the pitch. Rashid Khan truly stands as a remarkable force in the world of cricket.

Bangladesh (51.00)


Shakib Al Hasan (c), Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Tanzid Hasan, Towhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan, Mahedi Hasan, Tanzim Sakib, Nasum Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman


There was a time when Bangladesh were poised to make the leap from an emerging cricket force to a dominant one, but it appears that the moment may have passed.

Several key figures who were part of the earlier emergence are still shouldering the bulk of the responsibility for the team. Players like Shakib Al Hasan, who will captain the team in India, and Mushfiqur Rahim continue to be instrumental. However, as the stars from the past generation begin to wane, the next generation of players has struggled to propel the team forward. Political factors may have played a role, but it’s difficult to deny that this is a team currently experiencing a decline in performance and fortunes.

Player to Watch: Taskin Ahmed

While I have high hopes for Najmul Shanto in this World Cup, it’s crucial not to overlook the impressive contributions of paceman Taskin Ahmed in leading the bowling attack.

Taskin is known for his pace and accuracy. He has been a standout performer for the Tigers, taking 21 wickets from just 11 ODIs in 2023 at a remarkable average of 16.85. With his skills and determination, Taskin Ahmed has the potential to shine brightly for Bangladesh in the upcoming weeks.

England (4.00)


Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes


At first glance, this England team appears to be different from the one that clinched the World Cup title at Lord’s four years ago.

The retirement of captain Eoin Morgan, along with players like Jason Roy and Liam Plunkett, coupled with a series of injuries that relegate Jofra Archer to a travelling reserve, means that England’s bowling hero from 2019, Archer, is likely to miss out on this title defence.

Change is a constant in sports, and it has certainly swept through this England squad. However, amidst these changes, key figures remain. Ben Stokes, who was the Man of the Match at Lord’s in 2019, has returned from ODI retirement for another shot at World Cup glory. Jos Buttler has transitioned from Morgan’s right-hand man and vice-captain to captain, and familiar faces like Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Adil Rashid, and Chris Woakes are back for more. It’s clear that England still fields a formidable team.

What’s perhaps even more significant is that the same aggressive and fearless approach that has been the hallmark of this group’s success, not only in limited-overs cricket but also in Tests, remains intact. This approach makes England a formidable and dangerous outfit. Despite not having played as much 50-over cricket as they might have preferred in the last year, Buttler’s team showcased their resilience by coming from 1-0 down to secure a 3-1 victory over New Zealand in a recent ODI series at home.

Conditions will be different in India, of course, but this squad appears well-balanced if injuries can be avoided, and the feeling is that England are coming to the boil just at the right time.

Player to Watch: Jonny Bairstow

Much of the talk leading up to the tournament focused on England’s initial decision to exclude Harry Brook from the squad, followed by a U-turn that resulted in the omission of Jason Roy, a key figure in their triumphant 2019 campaign.

Dawid Malan has stepped in at the top of the order, but that position comes with added pressure, and concerns arise regarding Joe Root’s form at number three as the World Cup approaches.

Therefore, the performance of Jonny Bairstow takes on added significance in this tournament.

This World Cup marks the culmination of a whirlwind period for Bairstow. In 2022, he played a pivotal role in England’s Test team resurgence, delivering one century after another during the home summer. However, a freak injury sidelined him for the T20 World Cup in Australia. Upon his rushed return for the Ashes against Australia, Bairstow initially faced challenges with both bat and gloves before responding with characteristic determination.

Bairstow boasts an impressive average of 45.09 in this format and a strike rate of 110.81 as an opening batsman, making him one of the world’s premier players. His prowess against spin bowling is also noteworthy.

With Roy no longer in the picture and Alex Hales firmly excluded, England will be banking on Bairstow to set the early tone and establish their position as defending champions in the World Cup.

India (3.00)


Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav


India enter the World Cup as the overwhelming favourites, and their reputation is well-earned. The last time the World Cup was hosted on Indian soil in 2011, they thrilled their fans by clinching the title against Sri Lanka. Eight years later, in England, India reached the semi-finals, further solidifying their World Cup pedigree.

When it comes to cricket history, it’s difficult to find fault with India, and their current squad is brimming with talent from top to bottom. The team boasts experienced and high-scoring batsmen, exceptional spin bowlers, and a formidable pace attack. Playing on home turf, India is expected to be a formidable force.

The squad is expertly led by captain Rohit Sharma, with strong support from former captain Virat Kohli and seasoned players like Ravi Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. The team also has promising young talents, including Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, adding depth and excitement to their lineup.

Player to Watch: Jasprit Bumrah

While India’s batting lineup often steals the spotlight, their bowling unit is equally formidable, thanks to the exceptional Jasprit Bumrah.

With the new ball, Bumrah possesses the ability to swing it effectively from an attacking length, making him a constant threat during the first powerplay. At the death, his pinpoint yorkers and brilliant slower deliveries set him apart from his peers.

Bumrah is likely to receive strong support from the emerging talent Mohammed Siraj and a top-tier spin department. However, Bumrah remains the linchpin, and his absence was sorely felt during the T20 World Cup last year when India’s bowling lacked firepower.

Coming back from a lengthy injury layoff, Bumrah may be carefully managed through the group stage. Still, when the crunch matches arrive, he will undoubtedly be India’s trump card. His fitness will be a critical factor, as India’s bowling unit could be exposed if he breaks down, as they were against England in Australia.

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