World Cup Preview #8: Bangladesh + Minnows

I had to make that distinction, because Bangladesh is a level better than the non-Test sides. Obviously, the 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand comes to mind. They will be glad, of course, that they're in a group that they can actually qualify from.

Their batting has come a long way, posting competitive totals more regularly now. The structure is somewhat similar to the Kiwis - a deep batting line up filled with bit-part all rounders (except with spinners instead of medium pacers), the best bowler/important batsman/captain bang in the middle of it, and capable but potentially expensive quicks.

Tamim Iqbal is a huge factor, as everyone would have already told you, and when he gets going, the others know well to bat around him and let him do his thing. Junaid Siddique and Imrul Kayes like to stick around when they can, and the other little guys - Shakib Al-Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and Naeem Islam - like to go for their shots and can pack a serious punch.

Rubel Hossain and Shafiul Islam are a little better than simply take-the-shine-off pacers. The former reminds me of Dilhara Fernando a little bit, and that can never be good. The latter has decent variations, but often, his lack of pace does him in. It's no secret that they will rely heavily on their spinners, and Shakib likes to get in and bowl early. Abdur Razzaq is a superb limited-overs bowler and the supporting off-spin cast of Naeem Islam and Mahmudullah are pretty effective too. The back-up leftie, Suhrawadi Shuvo, was the highest wicket taker in the world in 2017 in my International Cricket Captain game, so that's a good reason to watch out for him.

Lastly, there's the mini drama show called Mohammed Ashraful. Will he get a go in the established line-up that was doing well without him? Will he finally come good on the biggest stage? Are cookies really controlling devices invented by dwarf minions of Steve Jobs? Stick around to find out (no).

Official-looking prediction: Super Eights. I think they might leapfrog the Windies to qualify from Group B, but that will be the end of the line for them. They'd want this count, because there will be no associate teams to beat in the next World Cup.


They're also in that corridor between the strong teams and the minnows, but only just. Give them a flat track and they will score big with Brendan Taylor or Elton Chigumbura (love the name) making hundreds, but they will struggle to defend even 350. Give them an ultra-slow track, and they will score 150 and almost defend it with their decent spinners. In all other situations, I don't see them winning a game.

Apart from the aforementioned Taylor and Chigumbura, the players to watch out for are Charles Coventry (one-time joint holder of the highest ODI score) and Graeme Cremer, because he's a leggie.

Official-looking prediction: Group stage, maybe a victory against Pakistan.


The folks here are pretty much blissfully unaware that their country's playing in a World Cup. The only things I know about their side is that apart from blistering contributions from 40-year old John Davison or Rizwan Cheema, they will struggle to reach 200 for the most part. Their keeper, Ashish Bagai, is a steady scorer, and pacer Khurram Chohan can be a handful for a few overs before exhaustion sets in.

Official-looking prediction: Group stage, maybe a victory against Pakistan. See what I did there?


They'll be a little more confident than the other Associates, having had the experience of actually reaching the semis in 2003. Steve Tikolo is still around, and will be taking the field in a wheelchair and telling everyone war stories during the lunch break. Other familiar faces are paceman Thomas Odoyo, leggie Collins Obuya and his brother, keeper David Obuya.

They've got some talented batsmen coming in, like Tanmay Mishra, the coolly named Seren Waters, and Alex Obanda.

Official-looking prediction: Group stage, maybe a victory against Pakistan. Okay, I'm ending that joke.


They put up a good performance in their practice game against New Zealand, and I think they're capable of another couple of upsets to go with their conquering of Pakistan in 2007. They have a lot of heart (and alcohol) (bad stereotype) and aren't afraid to go for it. Well-established county cricket players like skipper William Porterfield and Ed Joyce lend the batting some stability, while lower down lurk a couple of power hitters in brothers Kevin O'Brien and Niall O'Brien. 36-year old Trent Johnston will lead the bowling attack for probably the last time. They also have a couple of token South Africans, Andre Botha and Albert van der Merwe. Watch out for 18-year old spinner George Dockrell.

Official-looking prediction: Group stage, maybe a victory against Pakistan. Yeah, that was going too far - they aren't even in the same group. Impossible to resist having a go.


Ahh, the land of the shmoke und a pancake, the flapjack und a shigarette, the Shigar und a waffle, the Pipe und a crepe, the Bong und a blintz. Goldmember quotes aside, I know nothing about them. Ryan ten Doeschate is a very good all-rounder. That's pretty much all I have.

Official-looking prediction: Group stage.