The mental games have already started as 14 teams head into the 10th World Cup. Players and teams are talking themselves up as though they have a realistic chance of winning. Positive thoughts are the right attitude to have, but reality will prevail in the end. The team that wins the World Cup needs its senior players to perform with a couple of players having an exceptional tournament.
No home advantage
Normally, playing in sub-continent conditions would benefit teams like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The home advantage can be very influential in determining final results. However, many international players spend a lot of time playing in Asian conditions these days, so getting used to conditions is no longer an issue for most players and teams.
In 1996 I picked Sri Lanka to win. But I am not picking them to win this tournament. However, they will be very competitive and have the players to win games.
This year there's no doubt India are the hot favourites to win but according to MS Dhoni, India are tired. Fatigue can play a vital part in poor performance so they need to erase that thought very quickly. The Indian team are full of match winners but the added pressure of performing and winning at home is a huge hurdle for India to overcome.
Can't write off Oz
Australia are seeking their 4th consecutive title but they have recently been beaten by India in a pre tournament match. I would not read too much into that result at this stage. There is never a poor Australian team and they should never be written off but they are not the team of yesteryear.
The point of difference now is that most teams do not fear Australia as they used to.
England captain Andrew Strauss has said England can win the World Cup but they have just been thrashed by Australia.
There is a saying "Winning is a habit" but so too is losing. They will be competitive but they have never won the World Cup.
Pak under pressure
Pakistan have a lot more to prove. They have just won the recent series in New Zealand 3/2 and they are playing well. But they have to overcome the mental strain of off field distractions involving corruption and player bans
New Zealand’s mindset sounds positive but they have an enormous mountain to climb .
SA’s mental block
South Africa are a very professional, organised and well prepared side. The mental block of the past may come back to haunt them again at a crucial stage of the tournament - they almost have a habit of eliminating themselves!
The West Indies will be keen to get back to their glory days - they were world champions in 1975 and 1979 but it is hard to think they can win again. So much depends on one player, Chris Gayle. It will take more than one player to win a title.