Too big to turn down – Chris Woakes picks winning CWC over Ashes

Given a choice between winning the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 or the Ashes, Chris Woakes, the England pacer, said he’d grab the opportunity to do the former.

Too big turn down’- Woakes picks wining CWC over Ashes
Too big to turn down – Chris Woakes picks winning CWC over Ashes

England has won every Ashes series at home since 2005. Woakes himself was part of the side that won the 2013 series. However, the 30-year-old believes the chance to lift the World Cup trophy at home doesn’t come around too often – and when it does, they have to make it count.

“If it was a matter of life or death and I had to choose one, it would probably be the World Cup,” Woakes told The Daily Mail. “Just because World Cups at home don’t come around too often and we’re not often in a position like this as a team.

“I’ve only played one home Test against Australia, in my debut series in 2013, but we won the Ashes that summer. To potentially lift the World Cup at Lord’s, the home of cricket — that doesn’t come around very often. The opportunity to do that is too big to turn down.”

Woakes determination to lift the World Cup has been boosted by the misfortune he faced at the last ICC tournament the England men’s side were part of. In the Champions Trophy 2017 opener, he had sustained a side strain within two overs of their clash against Bangladesh. England was then eliminated against Pakistan, the eventual champions, in the semi-finals.

There is a determination to avoid that eventuality this time. “If you need any more motivation for a home World Cup, that’s mine, having missed out on the Champions Trophy,” he said. “We’d marked that tournament as a stepping stone in our development and had a chance to win it on home soil.

“For me to bow out in the second over was really frustrating. I’d done some really hard yards to make sure I was part of that team. With a home CWC and the form we’ve shown over the past couple of years, you’re desperate to be a part of that.”

England begins its World Cup campaign against South Africa at The Oval on 30 May.

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Targeted CWC19 as a teenager, says delighted Sodhi

Ish Sodhi, the NZ leg-spinner, says he is “very excited” to be a part of the Black Caps’ team for  Cricket World Cup 2019, and wants to grow as an “all-round cricketer” ahead of the CWC.

Targeted CWC19 as a teenager, says delighted Sodhi
Targeted CWC19 as a teenager, says delighted Sodhi

Sodhi has grabbed 39 ODI wickets in 30 matches, is the only specialist wrist-spinner in the 15-man squad. This will be his first arrival at the flagship event.

“I am very, happy to be part of that team,” he told Cricket Next on Saturday, 6. “Everyone dreams of representing their country in the CWC. When I was 15-16 years old, I told myself that ‘2019 is a good CWC for you to target’.

“Luckily, I was named in the team the other day. It’s great to have some support of not only the skipper but the coaching staff as well. They have shown a lot of confidence in me and, confidently, I can repay that.”

Sodhi depends on more on the turn than pace. But he is now at a stage where he is trying to find the perfect mix of both.

“I have always been an old-style bowler in a way that I have supposed on turning the ball as much as I can,” he said. “You generally have to bowl a little bit slower to achieve that. But the best thing I can do now is to achieve the correct balance between spinning the ball and trying to bowl fast when needed.”

Sodhi is now a part of the RR team at the IPL 2019 but is yet to feature in the tournament. However, he has taken that in his pace and is utilizing the time in his hands to work under the alert eyes of Sairaj Bahutule, Rajasthan’s coach.

“I met Sairaj Bahutule and kept a good relationship with him throughout the IPL last season and then after that as well,” Sodhi.

Who picked up 5 wickets for RR last season, said “I am also interacting with Stuart MacGill and he has been bizarre for me, not just as a leg-spin coach, but as a mentor as well because a lot of leg-spin is in the attention. Working with MacGill in the last six months has been enormous for my soreness. I am really willing I have him as my friend and mentor.

“My preparation starts now really. I am preparing myself to be an all-round cricketer. The amount of time I am not playing for the Royals, I’ll use to try and improve my batting because there is a lot of time to do that and continue working on my fielding. I’ll also keep making minor adjustments to my bowling to suit different conditions.”

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Sarfaraz Ahmad concerned about Amir’s form for CWC

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has expressed concern over pace bowler Mohammad Amir’s form ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

Sarfaraz Ahmad concerned about Amir’s form for CWC
Sarfaraz Ahmad concerned about Amir’s form for CWC

Amir, who was dropped after just one match in the recent five-match one-day international series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates, has gone wicketless in nine of his last 14 games. And Sarafraz was worried about the fast bowler’s predicament.

“When your key strike bowler is not taking wickets regularly, clearly it causes concern to the captain,” he told a television channel.

Pakistan almost missed out on qualification for the Champions Trophy altogether and began their campaign with a heavy loss to playful opponents India. But then victories over world No. 1 South Africa, Sri Lanka and hosts England set up a tantalizing re-match against India in the Final at The Oval. Not to be denied on this occasion, Pakistan set an imposing total of 338, led by a century to Fakhar Zaman before Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali combined to bowl India out for 158 to deliver an unlikely but memorable triumph.

In the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Amir’s spell of 3/16 in the final rocked the tournament favorites India to hand Pakistan victory. He was in exceptional form then, tormenting the strong Indian top-order and it looked like the 26-year-old was here to stay. Unfortunately, String of below-par performances since then has cast a shadow of doubt over his inclusion in the World Cup squad.

“I cannot say whether he will be in the CWC team or not but our minds are clear about our plans and when the squad is announced everyone will know,” the Pakistan skipper added.

Pakistan’s World Cup campaign will begin on 31 May against West Indies. Prior to the premier event, they will tour England to play five ODIs and a one-off T20I from 5 May. The selectors will be announcing the 15-member World Cup squad on 18 April, followed by a 17-18-member squad for the England tour on 23 April, so Amir still has his opportunities.

Last month, during the Australia series in UAE, Pakistan bowling Coach Azhar Mahmood showed faith in the bowler’s ability to bounce back and pointed out that he had been working on his fitness.

“Amir is a wonderful bowler. But since he returned, he was playing non-stop cricket so we have to do work on his fitness,” Mahmood had said. “If Amir is suitable and bowling well then we know he is a wicket-taker.

“The reason for that is playing three formats, in limited overs, you bowl a bit shorter. Amir is a swing bowler and that’s what makes him dangerous. On a Sharjah type wicket, you have to bowl a bit shorter so his ball isn’t swinging but he’s working hard and I hope he’ll come back strong.”

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Umer, Wahab Omitted from list of 23 probable for Pak CWC Team

Pak national selection board has invited 23 players to complete a fitness test ahead of the declaration of their team for this summer’s Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. On the other hand, the community who love their favorite team they are booking Cricket World Cup 2019 Tickets

The 23 ‘probable’ will undertake the tests at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore across the 15-16 April, with the squad then announced on 18 April. There are some prominent names included and excluded from the list of Pakistan squad for CWC 2019.

Several players who made their ODI debuts against Australia in Pakistan’s most recent ODI engagement have found favor, including Mohammad Abbas, who has excelled in Test cricket in recent times, S Masood, who got a maiden one day international half-century in the final match of the Australia series, and Mohammad Hasnain, who Shane Watson described as the fast teen he had ever batted against after facing him in the Pakistan Super League.

Umer, Wahab Omitted from list of 23 probable for Pak CWC Team
Umer, Wahab Omitted from the list of 23 probable for Pak CWC Team

However, Saad Ali, who scored 11 runs across his first two ODIs, has been left out, as has Umar Akmal, who passed 30 three times against Australia without going onto a half-century. Still only 28 years old, he is a one-day international veteran, with over 3000 runs and 121 caps to his name, and demonstrated his form with scores of 136* and 99 runs in his most current two innings in the Pakistan Cup.

Also left out was Wahab Riaz, who hasn’t played a one day international since 2017 but starred for Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup 2015.

Probable Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Shoaib Malik, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah

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Pak among the favorites for the title’ –Inzamam on CWC hopes

Inzamam, Pakistan’s chief selector trusts that the No.6-ranked ODI side ‘will be among the favorites’ to win the Cricket World Cup.

Pakistan’s opening fixture in the Cricket World Cup 2019 will be on 31 May, against West Indies. Previous to the start of the Cricket World Cup, they will tour England for a five-match one-day international series and one-off T20I.

The side’s most recent limited-overs task came in the UAE against Aussies, in which they yielded to a 5-0 defeat. With a number of steady fixtures in the side given a rest, one-day international debuts were handed to a number of players across the series: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Saad Ali, Mohammad Abbas, and Mohammad Hasnain.

In spite of the whitewash, when speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Inzamam designated at some positive results from the final two games of the series.

The fourth one day international saw Abid hit a century on his 1st international cricket match, while Pak fell 20 runs short in the final game, with U Shinwari picking up 4-49 and H Sohail hitting a 129 runs-ball 130.

Pak among the favorites for the title’ –Inzamam on CWC hopes
Pak among the favorites for the title’ –Inzamam on CWC hopes

“Against Aussies, we had relaxed seven of our main players,” said Inzamam, “and in the last two matches we had rested around 10 of our main players but the squad still fought hard in those games and that is a very good sign for me and Pakistan.

“I am self-assured we will pick a very good team for the Cricket World Cup 2019 and Pakistan will be among the favorites for the CWC title.

“These players needed rest before the Cricket World Cup and we have a frantic schedule in England going into the contest that is why we rested them and we also wanted to try out our bench strong point.”

Pakistan’s next international game will be against England in a T20I at Cardiff on 5 May 2019.

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We have got what it takes to win the CWC’ – Jason Holder

Forty years since West Indies last lifted the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy, in 1979, current captain Jason Holder is confident that his team can repeat history.

“I’m very optimistic,” Holder told Sports mail. “I think we’ve got what it takes to win the World Cup. It’s just a matter of the kind of cricket we play. We’ve potentially got match-winners on any given day and we can beat any side in the world.

“We’re confident that once we formulate our plans and execute them, we’ll be up there lifting that trophy at the very end.”

We have got what it takes to win the CWC’ – Jason Holder
We have got what it takes to win the CWC’ – Jason Holder

Windies last played a multi-format series against England, whom they beat 2-1 in the Tests. It was Windies’ first series win against England in the long format in 10 years. Holder, who was adjudged Player of the Match for his career-best 202* in front of his home crowd in Barbados, had a big part to play in it himself.

The limited-overs leg was more of a mixed bag, with Windies drawing the five-match one-day international series 2-2, but conceding the Twenty20 Internationals that followed by a 3-0 margin. However, Holder felt that holding the No.1 side in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings to a stalemate would hold Windies in good stead.

“I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet,” he said. “It was a surreal feeling scoring a double century in front of my home crowd and competing against the No.1 one-day side in the world and pushing them right until the end says a lot about our potential.”

If Holder leads West Indies to the World Cup, he will have emulated Clive Lloyd, whom Holder is very close to and has been taking advice from. “Growing up, you track history,” Holder said. “Clive Lloyd lifted two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, and it’s up to us to try to achieve something similar.

“He and I are very close. He’s given me a lot of advice about how to go about my international experience. He always said to me that it took three years for him to understand how to play Test cricket. Having played Test cricket for a while, I realize what he meant.”

Holder further said that West Indies are still a work in progress but are on the path to success. “Our boys are probably not the finished product, but we’re definitely on the right path to becoming pretty good West Indian players. If we stick together for the next two or three years, the sky’s the limit,” he said.

“And, being in England, this was the last place we lifted the World Cup. Who knows, maybe there’s a script to be written there.”

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World Cup bound Jimmy Neesham talked about his retirement

Getting picked in the New Zealand squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 was “surreal”, an elated Jimmy Neesham has said, especially since he was contemplating retirement 18 months ago.

A hard-hitting all-rounder, Neesham was among the 15 players named for the World Cup in England and Wales, starting 30 May. It was the latest step in a strong comeback for him, since returning for the Sri Lanka series at home.

Neesham had been dropped after a disappointing ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and even lost his place in his domestic side Otego. He remained out of national reckoning thereafter, before making a triumphant international return in January this year, when he smashed 47* in 13 balls. He has since maintained that form, but he explained that it had taken him considerable mental fortitude to keep going when the chips were down.

World Cup bound Jimmy Neesham talked about his retirement
World Cup-bound Jimmy Neesham talked about his retirement

“I actually called Heath Mills CEO of New Zealand Players Association and told him I was going to retire,” he told reporters on Thursday, 4 April. “I owe a lot to him for convincing me to take a little break and come back three or four weeks later. From then on, being able to make progress steadily, come back with Wellington and make this team as well, it’s all been a pretty surreal ride.

“He talked me off a ledge a little … Basically told me to go home, have a couple of weeks off, not pick up a cricket bat, and see how I felt in a fortnight or so and we’d gradually talk about getting back into the game. When I did go back to Otego, I didn’t want to. I wanted to have another week or so off, but he convinced me the best way to get back on the bike is to just get back on and see how you go.”

At the end of that season, Neesham made the switch from Otego for Wellington, and success came through runs and wickets, even as he began to enjoy the sport more. The break had helped him identify an important facet of his personality and game: “When I was the most driven and most motivated, I played my worst,” he said. “Trying too hard isn’t too helpful for me as a cricketer. Once I started enjoying the game again and being more carefree, that’s when it started to come together.

“I put way too much pressure on myself. I wanted to dominate domestic cricket, wanted to score 100s every game. Once that starts going in a downward spiral, you aren’t scoring runs and taking wickets, you put more pressure on yourself, and it got to the point where it had to break. Luckily, I took that advice and took a short break instead of a long break, and since then it’s been on the up and up.”

Neesham spoke to a psychologist to help him work through his frustrations. “I’m not much of a communicator at the best of times. Just being able to talk through a few of the struggles I was having off the field [was helpful] – it only took four or five sessions to really see some progress.

“I’d given the other way around a good crack, trying to get enjoyment from succeeding, but once I paid less attention to the runs and wickets, less attention to hitting balls for two hours the day before a game, and just going out and enjoying it, that was when the results started to come.”

Making the call-up sweeter was the fact that he had missed out on selection in 2015 – has been “the consensus No.16”. “Obviously, missing out four years ago was gut-wrenching,” he said, remembering how it was “bitter-sweet” watching from the stands as Grant Elliott won them the semi-final against South Africa.

Now, with New Zealand starting their campaign on 1 June against Sri Lanka, a more relaxed Neesham is set to make amends.

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After sobering ‘reality check’, Pandya sets sights on CWC

Hardik Pandya, the India all-rounder, wants to put injuries and controversy behind him as he moves on from his “toughest time” to work towards making sure that India wins the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

The fast-bowling all-rounder brings balance to Virat Kohli’s one-day international side. However, he’s missed out on several matches since September – first with a back injury, then when his comments on a talk show resulted in a suspension, and finally with more lower back issues that kept him out of action during the recent home series against Australia.

The Indian Premier League, where he turns out for Mumbai Indians, was a chance for him to get some vital game time before the World Cup in England and Wales, and on Wednesday, 3 April, he showed just how impactful he could be.

After sobering ‘reality check’, Pandya sets sights on CWC
After sobering ‘reality check’, Pandya sets sights on CWC

Pandya smashed 25* off just eight balls as Mumbai posted a challenging 170/5 against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede stadium, before scalping 3/20 in four overs, in his team’s 37-run win. His three sixes included one off a ‘helicopter shot’, with MS Dhoni watching from behind the stumps.

Picking up his Player of the Match award, Pandya opened up on what it meant to him. “It has been seven months that I have hardly played games,” he said. “I was out for an injury and then some other controversy happened.

“This match award, I’d really like to dedicate to my family and my friends, who were there for me during my toughest time. These seven months have not been easy. I was out and then I didn’t know what to do.

“That made me feel that I should have a reality check about what I am doing and which is helping me. Now, my only focus is to play IPL and make sure India wins the CWC. That is my sole purpose. That’s why I am practising the way I am doing right now.”

Basking in the “fantastic feeling” of having contributed to a win, Pandya said he had used his time away from the game to focus on his batting. “I’ve just batted and batted and batted in training, and touch wood, the game is getting improved,” he said.

“I am someone who wants to improve day by day. That is something I was focusing on all that time I was out of the side. It is a fantastic feeling when you hit the ball like that and make your team win.”

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Five takeaways from Black Caps CWC19 squad

New Zealand became the first of the 10 participating nations in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 to name their squad for the flagship tournament, on Wednesday, 3 April.

While the squad contained a few surprises, most notably the call-ups for Tom Blundell and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who was selected ahead of Todd Astle, for the most part, it was what was largely expected in the months leading up to the event.

While some have been given a longer rope despite injuries and poor form, others were afforded no such luxury, as the selectors sought to balance experience, potential, and performance. At the end of it, who were the big gainers and losers? And what did we learn? Let’s take a look.

Five takeaways from Black Caps CWC19 squad
Five takeaways from Black Caps CWC19 squad

In January 2014, Corey Anderson announced himself to world cricket, with the then fastest ODI century, off 36 balls, against West Indies. That innings shot Anderson into prominence, and he quickly rose to become the No. 1 all-rounder in the New Zealand side for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015.

Since then, the landscape of New Zealand cricket has changed a lot. Anderson has been plagued by injuries and Colin de Grand home has stepped into Anderson’s shoes, fulfilling essentially the same role.

Since the World Cup final at the MCG, Anderson has played only 14 more ODIs for New Zealand. He underwent surgery on his left shoulder last week, which essentially ruled out his participation in this year’s World Cup.

Unlike a lot of present-day teams, New Zealand hasn’t gone out of the way to slot in a wrist-spinner. Their only specialist in that trade, Ish Sodhi, is 30 ODIs old. Mitchell Santner offers the left-arm orthodox variety, but the main strength is where it has always traditionally been: fast bowling.

New Zealand’s inclination towards pace is further demonstrated by their persistence with Tim Southee, who hasn’t been at his best with the white ball in a long while. In ODIs this year, Southee has conceded runs at close to seven and over.

But with the World Cup being held in England, Southee, along with Trent Boult, could be a nightmare if the swing is on offer. Additionally, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson bring raw pace, while all-rounders James Neesham and de Grandhomme offer handy medium-pacer through the middle overs.

Colin Munro averages 25 after 51 ODIs. He has seven half-centuries in 47 innings and has often got off to starts only to throw them away.

Even he has continued to make a case for himself with his performances in T20 Internationals. He strikes at 162 in the format and has three centuries – second only to India’s Rohit Sharma.

Munro is likely to only be used as a reserve opener. But his selection is a clear indication that his potential is too good to ignore, and that the selectors are still holding out hope that he will eventually come good on his promise.

In six years since his ODI debut, Neesham has played 49 matches. Eight of those appearances have come this year. As of December last year, Neesham had spent 18 months out of the side. He then earned a recall for the ODIs against Sri Lanka at the start of this year and hasn’t looked back since.

In his first game back, Neesham blasted 47* off 13 balls, striking six sixes at Mount Maunganui, and followed it up with three wickets. He took that form into the next game, striking 64 off 37 balls and picking up two wickets.

In eight matches this year, Neesham has 204 runs at an average of 68 and a strike-rate of 182. Add to that 10 wickets at an average of 23, and you have a player fast cementing him as an integral cog in the New Zealand line-up.

Five takeaways from Black Caps CWC19 squad
Five takeaways from Black Caps CWC19 squad

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‘I’d really enjoy the chance to play the CWC –Ish Sodhi

The New Zealand spinner is hopeful of grabbing a spot in New Zealand’s squad for the impending ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

“I think it World Cup is the best white-ball competition,” Sodhi told ESPN. “Being quite a sad and historian of the game, I’d really enjoy the opportunity and chance to play the CWC. I am still hoping for the chance.”

In 2019, Sodhi played five ODIs at home – three against Sri Lanka and two against India. He was wicketless against a strong India side who won the five-match series 4-1, however, in New Zealand’s sweep over Sri Lanka, he was economical and also picked up the most wickets in the series.

‘I’d really enjoy the chance to play the CWC –Ish Sodhi
‘I’d really enjoy the chance to play the CWC –Ish Sodhi

“It was fantastic to play that full series against SL, and contribute to a few wins,” he says. “You can be comparatively aggressive while still trying to keep the run rate down. I think your key job is to take wickets. It is definitely a role I really enjoyed playing and to be able to contribute was really special.”

Sodhi, who has made 30 ODI appearances for New Zealand, admitted bowling against the likes of England and India, who he also said are going to be the favorites in the upcoming 50-over tournament, one must be on the feet against their top players.

“Fascinatingly, all of England batsmen are 360-degree players,” Sodhi says. “They reverse-sweep, they sweep quite hard. They use their feet. You have to retain things simple and almost allow the batsmen to make faults, as opposed to trying to set them up. Adil Rashid occasionally bats at No. 11, so they bat all the way down, and they can be hard to encompass.

“You have to faith that you get something out of the wicket against India even though occasionally the pitches are quite flat. You have to bowl with an aggressive mindset. They are actually good at the speed of the innings.

“They can recognize the threat and feed off other options that aren’t bowling as well that day. It is important to recognize how they are looking to play you, and then make the plan. You have to think on your feet against great players.”

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