Cricket Word Cup predictions: Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton and more make their picks

With the Cricket World Cup starting on Thursday, we asked Sky Sports experts Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, Ian Ward and Rob Key to make their tournament predictions.

Do they think England – who get things underway against South Africa at The Oval – will win the competition? Find out in the paragraphs below…

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May 30, 2019, 9:30am

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How far will England go and why?

NASSER HUSSAIN: There are so many sides that could win it, but they’re rightly favourites. I don’t see any reason why they won’t at least make it through to the knockout stage and, if I was to pick a winner right now, it would be England.

MICHAEL ATHERTON: I think they’re justifiable favourites on the cricket they’ve played, they’re at home, they’re the No 1-ranked side in the world so why can’t they go all the way? I think they might.

ROB KEY: England, perhaps along with India, are probably favourites. I think they’ve got every chance of winning the competition.

IAN WARD: They’re the best side in the world, and they’ve added to it with someone like Jofra Archer. That said, once you get to the knockout stage, it’s a one-off game. But really, on form, with the match-winners they have, and the way Eoin Morgan leads the side, England should win.

Who wins (if not England) and why?

HUSSAIN: India. Although I question the strength of their lower middle-order and tail.

KEY: I quite like Australia as an outside bet. I like their bowling and it could be a redemption story for Steve Smith and David Warner.

WARD: Never count out India. Although I wonder about the IPL – such a long, draining competition – which must have an effect on Virat Kohli and the like. Or the West Indies. They impressed me against England in the Caribbean, and I keep looking down their lineup – the talent they have, with Chris Gayle and Andre Russell both in – maybe fairy tales do come true?

Which team will hit the most sixes?

HUSSAIN: England.

ATHERS: West Indies. Rob Key has just whispered that to me and I think he’s right.

KEY: Either England or the West Indies. But, I’ll go with the Windies – with Gayle and Russell, it will be hard to out-six them.

WARD: England. Why? Because they don’t rely on one man, they can all do it, from No 1 down to No 11 even.

Top run-scorer?

HUSSAIN: Virat Kohli. I’m tempted by Jos Buttler, with the form he’s showing, but I just don’t expect him to get as many opportunities with the bat as Kohli.

ATHERS: Jonny Bairstow, because he’ll get a lot of opportunity at the top of the order for England.

KEY: Kohli. Bairstow is a good shout, and David Warner – there’s only one place to bat in white-ball cricket now, and it’s as an opener. But I can’t not pick Kohli.

WARD: Warner. With a point to prove on his return to cricket. The English crowd on his back, he’ll want to prove a point. Plus, he looked in sensational form in the IPL.

Leading wicket-taker?

HUSSAIN: Jasprit Bumrah. Your death bowler will likely be your most successful and take the most wickets, and nobody does it better than him.

ATHERS: It will be a spinner, I think, taking wickets in the middle overs. I’ll go with Yuzvendra Chahal, the Indian leggie.

KEY: Bumrah. I just think he’s a genius. He’s someone that you can’t copy; a rare talent with has a very unique action. Adil Rashid might run him close though, he’s a consistent wicket-taker.

WARD: I’m tempted to say Archer. Or Bumrah. Wickets early on and wickets at the death.

Bold prediction for the tournament?

HUSSAIN: Afghanistan will beat at least one major Test-playing nation. If you turn up and take them lightly – which one team might do, after playing maybe India, South Africa, New Zealand in a row – their spinners will punish you.

ATHERS: Expect runs! 2015 was a high-scoring tournament, and I expect this to be the same or even eclipse it. To think that in 1999, when England last hosted, there were only three scores over 300. That is going to be the absolute minimum this time round.

KEY: Afghanistan will get not just one shock win, but a few. They will take down a couple of the big boys.

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