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World Baseball Classic: Great Britain v United States preview: Underdogs face imposing first game

With the opening two groups already underway at the fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic, USA take on Great Britain in their first Pool C match at Chase Field on Sunday.

It will be the first-ever fixture for the British at the global event and their task could hardly be any more difficult.

WhatGreat Britain v United States
WhereChase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
When02:00, Sunday 12th March
How to watchBT Sport 1
OddsPool C outright: USA 2/9, Mexico 7/2, Colombia 25/1, Canada 28/1, Great Britain 125/1

Far from equal

The distance between these two countries as they enter their first games at the World Baseball Classic couldn't be more apparent.

While the USA are ranked third in the world according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), GB are ranked 22nd out of 81 countries registered - this may seem close, but it couldn’t be much more different.

And, of course, the USA are also the defending champions and the co-hosts of the tournament.

Baseball is a slowly rising participating sport in Britain, however it languishes far behind many more popular sports including hockey, MMA and netball. In 2019 according to a report by Harris, Softball was a sport more played, viewed and supported than baseball.

However, with more funding because of Great Britain's rise to the World Baseball Classic, they have been able to gain players from all across the globe who have British heritage.

In the United States, the game is described as 'America's pastime'. A global game and they don't call their finale to the season the 'World Series' for no reason. Baseball is third on the list of most popular sports in the USA, behind Basketball and NFL.

USA roster packed full of talent

Team USA enter Pool C with the thought of winning it all again and questions will be asked if they don't, considering the talent they have on their roster.

They have Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels as Team Captain, the 31-year-old opted out of the World Baseball Classic last time out, something he has since said he regrets.

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso spoke to recently and said: "For me it's an honour, as much as an honour, everyone in the locker room has earned a right to be there and to be part of the group, I mean, this is an elite team.

"For us, the talent is through the roof, but we want to be a substance as well, not just a team that's good on paper. We want to go out there and win it."

If things weren't tough enough for GB by facing the likes of Trout and Alonso in the batter's box, on the mound for Team USA will be Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, who has a career regular season ERA of 3.38 and who, at 41 years of age, will be making his first WBC appearance.

Wainwright will have, as most pitchers in the competition, a 65-pitch limit during pool play and, despite Britain’s lack of established talent at elite team level, he is not treating the game any differently.

He told "I'm looking forward to facing them, I know they're exciting players and they're going to be hungry, looking to make a statement and beat this team. So I have to be prepared. I'm not taking them for granted."

Related Baseball News

World Baseball Classic Pool C preview: USA the ones to beat

World Baseball Classic Pool D preview: Dominican Republic the team to beat

Cooper excited by opportunity

For Great Britain, captain Daniel Cooper is excited to be part of this experience, telling "First, it was just a really cool opportunity to play some international baseball.

"Then, the more you get your guys, get to find out what we mean for our country back home where my family's from and to build baseball in a country it wasn't really known for, it's been an amazing, amazing journey."

The key player for GB is Harry Ford, whose heroics were at the heart of Britain's three-game run to qualify for the WBC.

Ford is the Seattle Mariners' number one prospect and spent all of last season at Single-A Modesto at age 19. In qualification for GB when they impressed in Germany last September, Ford went 5-for-11, with three home runs and eight RBI's.

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