The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is fast appearing on the horizon – and ODI nations are sure to have it in the back of their minds during series scheduled throughout 2018.
For fans wanting to be part of the Cricket World Cup action in England and Wales, 2018 presents the opportunity when tickets go on sale. Further information will be revealed on Monday 15 January, which marks 500 days to go until the start of the tournament!
It is fitting that on the eve that milestone, Australia (currently ranked 3rd in the MRF ICC ODI Rankings) will host their first ODI of the year on the very ground at which they lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.
Australia's post-Ashes series with England (currently ranked 4th), which starts on 14 January at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the first of 10 ODI matches throughout the year (five home and five away) between the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 hosts and the current holders.
The first ODI of 2018 will see New Zealand (currently ranked 5th) and Pakistan (currently ranked 6th) go head to head in Wellington tomorrow, Friday 5 January, in the first of a five-match series. New Zealand will then host England in a five-match series during February and March.
One of the most eagerly awaited ODI series in 2018 will be the clash between the top two sides in the MRF ICC ODI Rankings on February 1, when South Africa, top of the rankings at present, take on second placed India in the first of six ODIs.
March will see 10 teams - headed by the 1975 and 1979 World Cup Champions West Indies (currently ranked 9th) - battle for the remaining two places at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The qualification tournament will also feature Zimbabwe (who are hosting the event), Afghanistan and Ireland, who are currently ranked 10th, 11th and 12th respectively.
Completing the teams to have already qualified, Sri Lanka (currently ranked 8th), World Cup winners in 1996, travel to Bangladesh (currently ranked 7th) and play in a tri-tournament -involving Zimbabwe as well – during January.
The first match of the tri-tournament will be played at Sher-e Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, which hosted the opening game of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.
It all adds up to an exciting start to the year as teams look to build ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
For more information on all the 2018 International schedule, visit the ICC Cricket Calendar here.