The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 is officially up and running and all ten skippers are anticipating ‘the most competitive tournament in history’.
The Film Shed in London’s trendy east end played host to the official captain’s media launch of the 2019 tournament on Thursday afternoon.
And with hosts England kicking off the tournament in exactly a week’s time at the Oval against South Africa, the time for talking is almost over.
All ten teams will play each other in a new-look round-robin stage, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals – a change in format that makes this year’s edition more competitive than ever.
And Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli and the ten tournament skippers can’t wait to get started, with a series of warm-up matches scheduled around the country in the next week.
England skipper Morgan said: “I don’t think anyone is head and shoulders above anyone else.
“These are the ten best teams in the world, it will be extraordinarily competitive and some quality cricket will be played so we are really looking forward to it.
“Every captain sitting here would lose their left leg to play in a World Cup final at the home of cricket. It’s something every one of us would have dreamed of as a kid.
“We are as best prepared as we can be. We just want to play that first game now.”
India skipper Virat Kohli added: “England in their conditions are the most strong side in this tournament.
“But all the teams so strong and well balanced and the fact we have to play everyone once, I think this will be the most competitive World Cup that anyone will have seen.”
Australia skipper Aaron Finch, who welcomes back both David Warner and Steve Smith as his side look to defend the title they won in 2015, said: “Since Warner and Smith have come back into the set-up they have been fantastic and contributed so much. The morale has been unbelievable.
“Once it gets underway, particularly against England, and further on for the Ashes, the crowd will play a part but that is expected everywhere in the world.
“We have plans in place for that, and their squad input and output in terms of the runs they have been making has been fantastic.”
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis is hoping to become the first man to lead the Proteas to a World Cup crown, after four semi-final appearances.
“We are all really excited to try out this new tournament, to play every once I think is great,” he said.
“The way we use our resources will be vital, but every team has X-factor bowlers that will have a big say in the successes of the side.
“I think the bowlers will win it, the teams still in it towards the end of the tournament will be the teams that have done really well with the ball.”
Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed – who led Pakistan when they won the ICC Champions Trophy in England in 2017 – is feeling confident.
“All the teams are really balanced. I think people are going to watch some great cricket,” he said.
“Since winning the World Cup in 1992, making the final in 1999 here in England and then Champions Trophy in 2017, we go well in England so we are confident we will do well and challenge.”
New Zealand were runners up four years ago and skipper Kane Williamson hopes his Black Caps side can go one better.
He said: “There are a few guys in the squad from the last World Cup which is great.
“But four years in between means there are a lot of new players.
“There has been a of talk about rankings, favourites, underdogs but what stands out is how balanced it is. Which means anything can happen on the day which is so exciting.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder added: “It’s a very exciting format. In the past you could play five or six games, and that could be it.
“To play every side is great for us. We worked hard with the qualifiers to get here, that means it is the top ten in the world, we want to play them all and give ourselves a shot.
“The team that wins will definitely deserve it.”
Sri Lanka’s new captain Dimuth Karunaratne said: “We have great experience in England, we came here early to get used to the conditions and we are in good shape, hoping to do our best.
“It is not going to be easy though. We are confident and taking it each game one by one.”
Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib added: “We are excited to be here, in front of the cricket world and to play the best teams.
“To present Afghanistan to the world is great and we are looking forward to it.
“There will be a huge audience at home in all the different provinces. Cricket is not just a sport now, in Afghanistan it has become something else.”
And finally Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is confident his side can spring a surprise.
“We have got a great bunch of boys, a good mix of seniors and juniors coming on.
“Cricket is a game that anyone on their day can beat anybody. If we start well we can hang in there.
“We are confident that we can go well, but a lot depends on the start.”