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One World Cup: What’s your pick?

If New Zealand were to win only one World Cup this year, what would be your choice?

I asked a similar question in 2019, and the Silver Ferns were the only ones who delivered after starting the tournament in Liverpool as 12/1 outsiders and beating our cousins from the West Island 52-51 in a gripping final.

This year the contenders are, again, the Netball World Cup with the first centre pass tomorrow in Cape Town, the Fifa Women’s World Cup [already underway], the Basketball World Cup with the first hoop to be shot in late August in East Asia, the Rugby World Cup, kicking off in Paris on September 9 with a blockbuster France-All Blacks clash, and finally the Cricket World Cup in India, with the first ball to be bowled at Ahmedabad on October 5 in a mouthwatering match between the 2019 finalists the fortunate winners England and the robbed Black Caps [no, I still haven’t got over it and never will].

First, let’s scrub out the Fifa World Cup. We might get out of our group, but that could be a stretch too far, given the shock 1-0 loss to the Philippines on Tuesday night. Even if we did progress to the round of 16, there are too many big guns in the USA, Germany, England, Brazil, Japan and others with far stronger credentials.

The Tall Blacks [ranked 26] will be competitive at the Basketball World Cup but have been drawn in the pool from hell, including the world-ranked number two team USA and number nine, Greece. Their only win could come against Jordan, who are ranked seven places lower. A repeat of 2019’s 19th-place finish is likely to be the best we can expect, although many of us will remember the 2002 Pero Cameron-inspired fourth placing. Making the top 16 may be an achievement in itself.

Australia [11] and New Zealand [5] have won all the world netball titles between them, although here’s a useless fact for trivia buffs; Trinidad and Tobago etched their name on the trophy in a three-way tie when they hosted the 1979 tournament in the days before finals.

Back to Cape Town, and the Silver Ferns should comfortably roll through their first-round group unbeaten and progress to a second round likely to feature Jamaica, South Africa, and Wales. There the biggest challenge will be getting past the Sunshine Girls, who thumped them in the 2022 Commonwealth Games semifinals, to avoid a potential semifinal against Australia.

A semifinal against England would seem the most probable outcome, with a win to set up another showdown against the archenemies. However, the netball world is no longer just Australia and New Zealand, when the chasing pack was a long way behind. It would be foolhardy to discount England, Jamaica, and South Africa, who will thrive on the back of passionate hometown support.

Aussie are the bookies’ favourites at $1.80, with Jamaica the second pick at $4.50 and New Zealand at $5.

The Silver Ferns surprised even the most ardent supporter in 2019, and super coach Dame Noeline Taurua knows how to get the team up for when it matters most, but does she have the cattle?

Jos Buttler runs out Martin Guptill off the final ball of the super over to give England victory in a controversial 2019 World Cup final. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Don’t you just love it when many in the rugby world write off the All Blacks?

Going on some of the northern scribes’ writings, our men in black may as well stay at home and not even bother boarding the plane for France. But there is nothing that an All Black enjoys more than shoving those words of wisdom where the sun doesn’t shine.

Hey, we lost a series at home to Ireland after winning the first test and were soundly beaten by France the last time we met in 2021, but since losing to Argentina in New Zealand for the first time last year, the All Blacks are on a nine-match unbeaten streak, although there is an ugly 25-25 draw with England, after giving up a 19-point lead with 10 minutes to play, among that.

The problem for the All Blacks and the other favoured teams is the ridiculously unbalanced draw, which has us, the Springboks, Ireland, France, and Scotland, the five top-ranked teams
on the same side of the draw.

The biggest battle could simply be getting past the quarterfinals, where world number one Ireland, the old foes South Africa, or a much-improved Scotland are likely to be waiting. Daunting tasks they all may be, but do any of them fancy a quarterfinal against a confident All Blacks?

Convincing wins over the Pumas in Argentina and the Boks in Auckland have the All Blacks in the right sort of early-season form, but are we good enough to lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy for a fourth time?

The overseas bookies think so, with Ladbrokes making the All Blacks joint $3.75 favourites with the host nation.

An early prediction, though, is that a questionable red card[s] will ruin one or more of the knockout games. This World Cup could well be decided by the bloke with the whistle and the TMO, and not the best team.

On to cricket, the Black Caps will have to do what they do best at World Cup time – punch above their weight.

We have a good history of making semifinals [seven times in 11 tournaments] and have made the last two finals, but this edition throws up completely different challenges, being played on the slow spin-friendly pitches of India rather than their more suited conditions of New Zealand and Australia in 2015, and England in 2019.

The big question mark hangs over captain fantastic Kane Williamson, but even if he does play, is there the depth to pose a real threat? The fifth line of betting at $8 is a fair indication that there probably isn’t.

So, what is my choice?

Netball? I didn’t expect them to win in 2019, and they delivered in spades, but I think the Aussies will rack up title number 12.

Will I be gutted if the All Blacks don’t win? Disappointed, maybe, but it’s shaping as the most competitive Rugby World Cup yet.

Will I be ripped if the Black Caps don’t win?

No, but the Cricket World Cup is the one I’d cherish more than any of the other World Cups, mainly because I still haven’t got over 2019.

The reality is the All Blacks present probably the best chance of victory.

So what’s your choice if you could only pick one?

1 COMMENT

  1. Gotta be RWC as it’s set up to be the most competitive as you say and given the ABs’ horible performance last year, relatively speaking, it’d be nice to shove it in the doubters’ faces. I’d also watch out for Tonga in the early stages of the Netball World Cup too. They’ll be the second team to make it out of their pool with Australia.

Comments are closed.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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