The ICC Cricket World Cup is now well underway with big hits and big scores the theme of the tournament so far. Hosts England opened the tournament with an easy win over South Africa before being undone by Pakistan. We spoke to UCFB Etihad Campus academic Ian Tomlinson, a proud Yorkshireman and avid cricket fan, about his thoughts on the tournament so far and England’s chances of winning their first World Cup…

How excited are you to have the World Cup back in England?

I’m excited about it on two fronts: The first is that 20 years ago I was looking after safety at the 1999 World Cup. Recently I visited Headingly to see the difference in operations, security and the other systems in place for this tournament. Secondly, and on the pitch, it’s been interesting to look at England being touted as one of the favourite, then seeing the changes in just the scoring rate. With England hosting the tournament, it will be interesting to see how the weather will impact it. How many matches will be rained off and how will it change the position of some of the teams in the league table? That’s also the case for the playing conditions and the Duckworth Lewis method – how will it impact?

What have you made of the tournament so far?

What I’ve found interesting so far is the draw and how the fixtures have been worked out. Take South Africa for example; they’ve played four and lost three, so can’t afford to lose anymore, whereas India have only played two games. South Africa are third in the world rankings and already have played the first and second ranked teams. New Zealand are ranked fifth and have so far played ninth and seventh.

Looking back over the first week of the tournament, the Windies scored 421 in a warm-up game and that really opened people’s eyes to what’s possible this summer – some are putting a bet on for 500 to be hit in this tournament. My concern though is it’s not cricket as we know it; it’s getting closer to baseball. England were just 14 short of Pakistan’s 348 – that would have been a record chase for a World Cup game. Root and Buttler each hit a century and England still lost!

This is the first time a single league system has been in place. What do you make of it?

On the face of it, it should mean the better teams get to the semi-finals and are overall the best teams in the world. In the old system England, for example, after losing to Pakistan if they lost again they’d likely be out of the tournament. But now you can have three losses and still be in it. This year they cut the tournament to ten teams, where previously we would have had the likes of Ireland and Zimbabwe taking part, so it means that now there is no one who is a weak nation, with maybe the exception of Afghanistan. There is no definite win this time around, so it makes it fairer in many ways. However, cricket isn’t always about the best team winning; it can often be decided by the toss of a coin.

What do you make of England’s chances this summer, and who do you make favourites for the tournament?

England have got to be one of the favourites, and they are really being built-up by the press. We’ve just had a month of upsets and against the odds sporting feats, like the Champions League semi-finals and Anthony Joshua losing his world titles. When you make someone favourites it can often make others step up their game, but can you really have a clear favourite in a sport that has ten nations that can win on any given day? Australia are currently ranked fifth in the world but can beat anyone. Would you really make England clear favourites when they play each other?

Are there any players that we should be looking out for?

This time around for England we’ve got four or five match winners and we’re not reliant on one player like times in the past; the top half of the batting order can really do something special. Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, then there’s Joe Root – it’s just about the best batting line-up England have ever had! Bowling was always going to be the weak link, but the inclusion of Jofra Archer has been the X factor we’ve been crying out for. Others who we should all watch out for are Australia’s Steve Smith and David Warner. They’re now back from their bans following sandpaper-gate, so they’ll both have huge points to prove now and in the Ashes later this year. Watch out for them all summer.

Talking of the Ashes, if you had a choice between England winning the World Cup or regaining the Ashes, what would you pick?

Being a purest you’d naturally say the Ashes but because England have never won the World Cup, and with it being held here, I’ve got to say the World Cup. The frustration is what has the bigger impact? Cricket now is almost pay-per-view, with both the World Cup and Ashes being shown on Sky Sports. If we want to make an impact and for the sport to really grab the attention, it needs to be on terrestrial television. Plus, with the highlights at midnight, no kid is going to watch that!