World Cups always bring with them certain traditions that must dutifully be observed. Such as painfully cheesy tournament opening ceremonies. We expect the Kiwi opener to include hundreds of schoolchildren re-enacting the underarm incident through the medium of interpretive dance, for instance. Another is the wealth of prediction articles that flood the internet immediately prior to its commencement. At 51allout we are justifiably proud of our predictive ability, like that time we predicted that Steven Peter Devereux Smith would become the world dominating Goliath he has subsequently become, or that other time we, ah, actually that probably just about covers it for positive examples.
But nevertheless, we are determined to add to our track record of one successful prediction by making a whole host of others concerned with the 2015 World Cup. And rest assured, if any do happen to come to pass, we can guarantee that, much like with #Devereux, we will never, ever, shut up about it. Ever.
Aussie Matt: Tournaments structured like this usually end up delivering one surprise finalist, a team who manages to look pretty ordinary throughout the group stages but then somehow sneaks through to the final (otherwise known as the French Rugby Union team). I expect that to happen here, and think possibly Sri Lanka will sneak into the final. And then promptly get hammered.
Nichael Bluth: Unfortunately I can definitely see this being a tournament of no alarms and no surprises.
English Matt: Erm, that’s not Dave Stewart. Although one of them may be Annie Lennox. My ‘surprises’ will be Ireland making the quarter-finals – although that probably isn’t a surprise when you look at their group – and England not losing to an Associate side. But they will come close.
NB: It’s a shame the Dutch aren’t there this time, as the answer to this question is always Ryan ten Doeschate. In his absence I’m expecting someone from the Ireland squad to make a bit of a name for themselves. But they’re mostly experienced old pros, hence I’ll just have to go for George Dockrell, who’s been the next big thing for years now, despite being only 22. He’ll probably have absurd figures in one game – probably the one against the West Indies as they slump to the most unsurprising surprise defeat ever.
AM: Obscure fact time, Scottish captain Preston Mommsen averages 111.5 in ODI’s in Oceania. He could be set to take this tournament by absolute storm. Otherwise I expect one of the Zimbabweans to really stand out, if only because what Eddo Brandes did the last time the World Cup was played in this part of the world.
EM: So seldom are Pakistan shown on British TV, I am counting them as relatively obscure. So I nominate Ahmed Shehzad. Mostly because I have heard of him.
AM: I think England potentially have one perfect game in them, a game where everything clicks and they look like absolute world beaters and get people thinking that they actually could win this thing. It could come in the opening game, or it could come in their quarter final, which would make them surprise semi finalists. Or they could just waste it on Afghanistan or something.
EM: England will be surprisingly competent. In the group stage they will secure a decent victory against Sri Lanka but come close to embarrassment against Scotland. Slightly lower par totals than generally expected will suit them and they will get past Pakistan in the quarter-finals, before collapsing to South Africa. By the end of the tournament Ravi Bopara will have an approval rating similar to your average Liberal Democrat leader.
NB: Quarter finals. Ignominious defeat. Muppets the lot of them! ‘Building for the next World Cup’. Should have picked Pietersen. Out of date strategy. Stokes for Bopara would have made the difference. Cockwombles, every single player. Sack them all!
EM: Shock and horror – South Africa will not choke, even though people say they will. They will just lose in the final to the better team.
NB: I’m thinking some sort of combination of injuries and the quota system leading to them not actually being able to field a team for the final.
AM: I think they’ll be outplayed by a better team on the day, but to keep the natural order of things, we’ll all just claim they choked anyway.
NB: I know what I’d be doing – number four. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
AM: It’s so clearly going to be option three I’m not sure why I bothered putting the rest in.
EM: Whoever it is (it is option three), he will retire after lifting the trophy. Arise, #Devereux.