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Some pre-tournament jitters from Australia won’t be enough to stop the world champions from defending their crown on home soil next month.
That is the view of Fox Cricket expert Mel Jones, while Isa Guha’s head agrees with the Australian legend, but her heart lies with England.
Speaking to foxsports.com.au at Fox Cricket’s T20 World Cup launch in Sydney, the Australia and England greats gavetheir predictions for the tournament, starting Friday.
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The former World Cup winners believe this edition of the tournament will be one of the most tightly contested with England, India and New Zealand all forces to be reckoned with, while South Africa and West Indies have the ability to upset anyone on their day.
But ultimately, they could all be just playing for second-place.
Australia may have lost two matches this month against England and India but — having steadied the ship to win the tri-series — still starts the World Cup in a class of its own.
Here’s how Jones and Guha see the T20 World Cup playing out.
WHO WILL WIN?
Isa Guha: My head is saying Australia, but my heart, England.
Mel Jones: Australia.
Isa Guha: Beth Mooney
Mel Jones: It’s hard to go past Sophie Devine from New Zealand. We talk about Alyssa Healy’s form 18 months, two years ago — Sophie Devine is in that kind of crazy good form at the moment.
Isa Guha: Amelia Kerr
Mel Jones: I’m going to go with Pool B because — you don’t want to say it’s easier but — I’m going to go with Sophie Ecclestone.
Isa Guha: West Indies
Mel Jones: South Africa. As a team, they won’t be consistently amazing … they’ll have a couple little lulls but when they are good they can beat anyone on the day.
IF AUSTRALIA DOESN’T WIN, THEN WHO?
Such is the depth of talent at this year’s World Cup, neither Guha or Jones are able to predict who will win if Australia suffer a shock dumping.
England, New Zealand and India are Australia’s biggest threats who are thought to have the tools that make them capable of going all the way.
But both Guha and Jones were eager to single out South Africa as a potential wildcard that can create a boilover.
When asked who is favourite to win after Australia, Guha said: “It’s a difficult one because I actually feel that it’s quite open.
“England, New Zealand and India probably are the next three favourites and then you’re looking at the likes of South Africa and the West Indies who can always cause an upset. (Although) it’s not necessarily an upset anymore – you believe that they can beat any team in the world.
“It’s really about who gets to those semi-finals and then who can put out a performance. That’s where anyone can really win.
“The likes of South Africa and the West Indies, they’ve got a few players playing in Australia in the WBBL so they’ve got the experience, they’ve got the intel to help their teams navigate through how to play against different players. That’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing.”
When asked the same question, Jones said she is still “sitting on the fence” while highlighting the potential of Australia’s key challengers.
“Each team is in a different phase of their development,” Jones said. “You’ve got South Africa who are hurting still from losing a semi-final last 50-over World Cup, so they bring that raw emotion to it all.
“You’ve got India who have an average age of 22, so they’re young and fearless and can throw a cat among the pigeons, or they can be awful.
“New Zealand had eight players playing the WBBL. They want to win a World T20 title, they haven’t done it yet.
“And then there’s England and we all know how good they can be. But that’s the beauty of the World Cup, it really is very, very open.”