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Cricket World Cup and the value of home-field advantage

Home-field advantage is a concept that exists across the sporting spectrum – and has done so since balls were first kicked, hit, or spun in anger on pitches, courts, and wickets around the world.

It goes without saying that competing in certain venues is going to benefit those most familiar with said surroundings.

There is an argument for stating that home fixtures bring with them added pressure and expectation, with fan bases thrown into the mix that can deliver atmospheres ranging from the super passionate to alarmingly toxic, but an element of the unknown is removed when stepping onto a stage in your own backyard.

Dictate

In cricketing terms, the ability to dictate playing conditions – outside of the weather – offers those filling hosting duties a chance to gain the upper hand before team sheets drop and players take to the middle.

That playing field may level somewhat during a major international tournament, but Cricket World Cup betting had hosts India at the top of outright winner markets a long way out from the event getting underway.

Said standing has been maintained, with a star-studded outfit priced at 6/5 to savour global glory in the 50-over format of the game for a third time in the nation’s long and distinguished history – and a second when turning out on home soil.

Back in 2011, India edged out Sri Lanka in a thrilling final – with MS Dhoni hitting an unbeaten 91 to get his country over the line and bring their 28-year wait for a World Cup-winning party to a close. Sachin Tendulkar got the gold medal that his remarkable career deserved, while there were telling contributions across the tournament from the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh.

A notable trend was set in motion that day in Mumbai, with Australia going on to prevail as co-hosts four years later, before England repeated the trick in the most dramatic of fashions at Lord’s in 2019.

Across the first nine stagings of the ICC Cricket World Cup, dating back to 1975, only one home nation – co-hosts Sri Lanka in 1996 – emerged victorious. India are now looking to complete a run of four in a row.

Head coach Rahul Dravid has attempted to play down talk of home-field advantage in an era where the best white-ball players in the business are regularly in the subcontinent. He has said: “The whole thing of home advantage has reduced to a large extent over the last 10-12 years because people come here and play so much, especially with tournaments like the IPL. You have people here for two months, getting used to the conditions.”

Factors

Being aware of the conditions is one thing, but performing in them is another matter entirely. There are so many other factors to take into account when colours donned in franchise cricket are swapped for those of respective national teams.

The same is true in just about every other sport – when club or individual activity is traded for international competition – with action of that kind presenting a different kind of challenge.

Being able to call upon home support at times such as that is of obvious advantage, and the Cricket World Cup continues to be held up as an example of how backing the hosts to go well is always advisable when looking to separate contenders from pretenders.