By Robert Fenton
England are far from the finished article and anyone punting them, is betting on blind faith. In fact, they are poor odds even to win their Group at 4-5 and the Kiwis are a better option at 11-10.
The Aussies who have drifted out in betting to as big as 15/8 with Blue Square and Sporting Odds, will still be the team to beat, although the loss of Brett Lee would be a big blow.
As for Irish hopes, they are out with the washing at 1000/1 and quite simply, have no chance. Despite the major strides made in Ireland performances under coach Adrain Birrell, they will do exceptionally well to win a group game.
Unfortunately, Ireland do not have the bowling depth to make the impact required but they no doubt, will do themselves proud on the batting front.
As for England, they keep picking unfit players and have not learned any lessons from the Test debacle in Australia. Currently, they are a false price at 8-1 and fifth favourites behind Australia, South Africa, West Indies, India and Sri Lanka. The in-form one-day team at the moment is South Africa who go into the finals fresh from a solid 3-1 series win over Pakistan, led by Shaun Pollock and at 6-1 are a good bet each-way as it will pay 2-1 for a place in the final.
William Hill make Freddie Flintoff 40-1 to be England's both top run-scorer and wicket-taker but there is no need for such fanciful stuff. There are better opportunities of making a profit, such as taking the West Indies at 8-11 (Ladbrokes) to win Group D for which Ireland are 200-1.
India are worth supporting at 'level you devils' (evens), again with Ladbrokes to overcome Sri Lanka in topping Group B while South Africa are a decent shout at 13-8 to emerge ahead of the Aussies in Group A.
Special bets featuring England from William Hill are:
England World Cup Stage Of Elimination: 2/5 Eliminated Super Eight Group Stage, 4/1 Losing Semi Finalist, 8/1 Winners, 10/1 Losing Finalists, 25/1 Lose At Group Stage.
William Hill World Cup Cricket 2007: 6/4 Australia, 6/1 South Africa, 7/1 West Indies, 7/1 Sri Lanka, 8/1 Pakistan, 8/1 India, 8/1 England, 12/1 New Zealand, 200/1 Bangladesh, 250/1 Zimbabwe, 350/1 Kenya.
Top England World Cup Runscorer: 11/4 Pietersen, 9/2 Collingwood, 6/1 Bell, 6/1 Strauss, 6/1 Vaughan, 6/1 Joyce, 10/1 Flintoff, 14/1 Bopara, 33/1 Nixon, 33/1 Dalrymple. E/W 1/5 1,2,3, Others On Request
Top England World Cup Wicket Taker: 5/2 Flintoff, 4/1 Anderson, 4/1 Panesar, 11/2 Plunkett, 6/1 Lewis 6/1 Mahmood, 14/1 Dalrymple, 20/1 Collingwood, 20/1 Bopara. E/W 1/3 1,2, Others On Request,
Which England Batsman will be first to make a 50 in the World Cup? 9/4 Vaughan, 3/1 Joyce, 7/2 Pietersen, 7/2 Strauss, 7/1 Bell, 7/1 Collingwood, 14/1 Flintoff, 33/1 Bopara, 33/1 Dalrymple, 40/1 Nixon, 80/1 Mahmood, 80/1 Lewis, 80/1 Plunkett, 125/1 Panesar, 125/1 Anderson, 100/1 No England Player to score a 50 in the World Cup
Who will be the first England bowler to take a wicket?: 11/4 Flintoff, 3/1 Anderson, 4/1 Plunkett, 9/2 Mahmood, 7/1 Lewis, 10/1 Panesar, 25/1 Collingwood, 25/1 Dalrymple, 33/1 Bopara .
Freddie Flintoff to be England's top run-scorer and wicket-taker: 40/1.
Group A betting:
4-9 Australia; 13-8 South Africa; 150-1 Scotland; 250-1 Netherlands.
Group B betting:
5-6 Sri Lanka; 1/1 India; 29-1 Bangladesh; 300-1 Bermuda.
Group C betting:
4-5 England; 11-10 New Zealand; 33-1 Kenya; 250-1 Canada.
Group D betting:
8-11 West Indies; 5-4 Pakistan; 66-1 Zimbabwe; 200-1 Ireland.