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World Cup, Test Championship promise an exciting year ahead

The 2019 Cricket World Cup

Undoubtedly, the mega event in the UK will be the highlight of the 2019 cricketing calendar. Cut down to ten teams, the World Cup 2019 promises to be a short, but sweet affair.

Windies and Afghanistan had to battle it out in the Qualifiers to seal their spots in the 10-team line-up. While legends are picking out their favourites, the ECB looks at hosting the event as an opportunity to develop the game in the country given that it will be played in 11 venues across 10 cities. With 700,000 tickets on sale, and most of them sold out, the ECB has reportedly received 2.9 million applications for the same.

The World Cup will be played between May 30 and July 14, where although defending champions, Australia, will be aiming a record sixth title, hosts England go in as favourites.

The World Cup will also draw curtains on some illustrious ODI careers. MS Dhoni, for one, who led India to the title in 2011, is touted to call it a day post the tournament. Among others include veterans Dale Steyn, Lasith Malinga, Mashrafe Mortaza, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Shoaib Malik and Marlon Samuels.

Banned duo return to the international circuit

Australia will be boosted by the return of David Warner and Steven Smith after the pair served their one-year bans for ball tampering. The incident that took place in Cape Town in March derailed Australian cricket to monumental degrees, with the national team losing the support and faith of the general public. The loss of the pair – along with Cameron Bancroft who copped a nine-month ban – hurt Australia’s top order, which has failed to get going in their absence.

Although their transition into the international arena will be one full of different challenges, their ability with the bat, and going by the form that they have been across global T20 leagues and club cricket, will boost Australia’s top order. They will certainly not be welcomed back with open arms by the public, especially overseas, but if they can strengthen Australia’s batting and influence fortunes of a team that has arguably seen its lowest phase through the year, the path to redemption might be a shorter one.

General elections, World Cup to influence IPL 2019

The 2019 general elections in India will have a directly proportional impact on the twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League. Based on the dates of the elections, the BCCI will have to make a decision of hosting the tournament in India, or having it outside the country. It could also be the case of hosting a few games in India, before moving to the UAE at a later stage. With a mandatory 15-day gap between the end of the IPL and India’s next international assignment, as per the Lodha reforms, the IPL will be held from March 29 to May 19. With the World Cup set to begin later in May, some of the teams may be tempted to rest their mainstay players to avoid the possibility of injuries and fatigue.

World Cup, first, then the Ashes

England will hope to regain the Ashes on home turf after having conceded the urn in 2017 4-0 to Australia. In what will be a highly anticipated summer for England, with the World Cup and a historic four-day Test against Ireland, the Ashes, that begins on August 1, will cap off an electric season for them, with ticket allocation for the Tests to be made available by a public ballot citing high demand. What would add to the anticipation will also be the possibility of watching Warner and Smith – arch-rivals England, the local crowds, or the Barmy Army won’t pass off a chance to be on to the pair.

It could also be veteran pacer James Anderson’s swansong. In all probability, he will call it a day post the five-Test series, capping off a stellar career, that he will end as the most successful Test bowler.

The Test Championship

The league competition for Test cricket will finally make its way to being. It is a tournament that will be contested by the top nine teams over two-year cycles, in 27 series, the first of which begins in July 2019 when the league phase kicks off. It was an idea that came into conception in order to add further context and significance to bilateral series.

Points being awarded for individual matches, as opposed to series, will make every game significant. Yet, the details are still blurry as to how it’ll be possible given the difference in the number of Tests played in respective series’. Home and away Tests will be treated on even keel, which can be a disadvantage for teams who will play overseas in majority.

The biggest killjoy, though, as one may anticipate, is the India will still not play Pakistan in a bilateral series. Not in the first cycle, at least. But the biggest reason for joy is that Ireland and Afghanistan have been included in the FTP for the first time. Afghanistan will play 11 Tests from now to 2023, while Ireland will play 12, although both aren’t part of the inaugural Test Championship. The tournament will begin with India taking on Windies.

Building towards 2020

The main focus around women’s cricket in 2019 will be sprucing up resources for the World T20 in 2020. After having had the WWT20, as a standalone tournament for the first time in November, the women will engage in battle once again just 15 months after. While no global tournament in women’s cricket is scheduled for the year, the teams will be building up for the one next year.

Associates’ 50-over structural overhaul

The World Cricket League had to finally make way for a new CWC League system for the Associates after having been in play for a decade, which will commence after the 2019 World Cup. The new structure in conjuncture with the boards of the Associate, will ensure that the 19 Associates will not just be engaged in as much international cricket as possible, but also easy on the pockets.

Seven of the top-eight Associates will engage in trilateral series’, with the winner standing a chance of either replacing, or joining, the Netherlands in the CWC Super League, that currently comprises of them and the 12 Full Members.