With one week to go until a feast of 42 matches begins, Steve Deane answers the vital questions

When does it start?

The first matches are next Saturday with both host nations in action. The Black Caps play Sri Lanka in Christchurch while Australia battle England in Melbourne.

And it's cricket, so it goes forever, right?

Pretty much.There are 42 pool matches between February 14 and March 15. After that it's quarter-finals, semifinals and eventually the final in Melbourne on March 21.


Let's cut to the chase - can New Zealand win it?

The Black Caps' lead-up form is about as good as it has ever been and they will have home advantage, which in cricket is more about familiarity of conditions than having fans fuelled by flat beer and limp cucumber sandwiches singing the national anthem in the stands.

But let's face it, this is New Zealand and we are historically pretty much rubbish at cricket. As well as the Black Caps have played of late, the reality is their unprecedented form surge has only been good enough for our boys to charge up the world rankings to sixth.

So we don't have a chance?

You wouldn't say that. Anything can happen in one-day cricket. The problem for the Black Caps is that they will need it to happen three times in a row against the best teams in the world once the tournament reaches the quarter-final stage. Historically, that is a pretty big ask.

But didn't we win it last time it was here in 1992?

You'd think so the way everyone bangs on about it, but, no, we reached the semis and had the Pakistanis on the ropes, only to be bludgeoned into submission by a podgy kid with a great eye and a huge bat. Bugger.

According to the draw, we play Afghanistan in Napier - surely that's a misprint?


Er, no. The plucky Afghans made their way through qualifying by beating Kenya, a country that once made a World Cup semifinal.

Can't imagine Afghan pitches are up to much - would bring new meaning to the expression batting on a minefield wouldn't it?

Stop it.

Who else do the Black Caps need to keep an eye out for?

They're in a group with Australia (boo), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Scotland, Afghanistan and England, with the top four progressing to the quarter-finals. Expect four of the five test-playing nations to progress, with the Bangers likely to be the odd one out.

Who should I put my money on?

Bit of an awkward question, that, given the effect illicit gambling and match fixing have had on the sport. New Zealand has actually introduced a new law to combat fixing but it's still probably worth taking a flier on a rash of no-balls in the fourth over when a certain team in green takes the field.

Should I buy myself an orange T-shirt and go to every game in the hope of winning a million dollars?

No, you couldn't catch a cold running naked through a Siberian theme park. Just go along and enjoy the cricket. With the rise of T20 cricket, the 50-over version of the game is under threat, so who knows when or if the World Cup will return here. Might as well lap it up while we can.

You were kidding about the Black Caps not winning, weren't you?

No. Aussie will win it. They pretty much always do. At least they've won three of the last four, and four in total. India are the current champions but they've been mud since Sachin Tendulkar retired. Sri Lanka are also past champions but they tend to struggle Downunder. The West Indies were good in the 1970s but not so much lately, and South Africa have turned choking during World Cups into an art form. That leaves Aussie.

And the Black Caps?

Okay, yes. And the Black Caps. Maybe they really can win it.