Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 8th 2015 Contents LONDON---Ending England s wait for a first cricket
World Cup title seems to be beyond a team that
changed captains in the lead-up to the tournament,
is without one of its most destructive batsmen in
outcast Kevin Pietersen and continues to struggle
with its bowling late in the innings.
The limited-overs squads have often been a source
of embarrassment in a country where test cricket
remains the pinnacle form of the game. The English
have lost five straight ODI series in favoured conditions
at home and were blown away 5-2 in a series in Sri
Lanka at the end of 2014.
Hopes raised by reaching the final of a pre-World
Cup tri-series tournament involving Australia and
India were quickly shot down by a humbling 112-run
defeat to the Australians in its last competitive match
before the global showpiece begins.
It was a reality check, a signal that the team is still
a work in progress.
Removing Alastair Cook as captain---and from the
ODI squad---in December and giving the role to Eoin
Morgan was widely viewed as a step in the right direc-
tion but problems persist.
Is England missing a trick by going with a new
opening partnership of Ian Bell and Moeen Ali, leaving
big-hitting Alex Hales to wait patiently on the side-
Is Ravi Bopara the answer as the team s allrounder?
He struggled in the tri-series and was barely used as
And will a bowling lineup that lacks variety---there
is no left-arm paceman in the team---be able to keep
the runs down in the final overs?
"We re not that far away," England coach Peter
Moores said, and there are some encouraging signs.
Bell and Joe Root are in good form, newcomers Gary
Ballance and James Taylor appear to have a strong
futures and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, with
his huge hitting and improvised shot-making, could
be one of the most exciting players to watch over the
next two months.
In Morgan, England has a limited-overs specialist
and a potential match-winner, and paceman Steven
Finn s return to form is welcome news to a bowling
attack that will include the experienced James Anderson
and Stuart Broad.
"We are getting better fast," Moores said.
England probably could have done with another
year to let a new squad find its momentum and for
Morgan to get accustomed to the captaincy. The team s
opening two games are against tournament hosts Aus-
tralia and New Zealand, which will be a genuine test
of its credentials.
Watching with interest from the commentary box
of British broadcaster BBC will be Pietersen, whose
international career was ended for good by England
last year when he was dropped following the disastrous
Ashes tour to Australia and held responsible for dishar-
mony in the dressing room.
As he showed in the recent Big Bash League in Aus-
tralia, Pietersen remains a potent batsman on his day
and thinks he would improve England s chances of
success in the World Cup. The English lost the final
to Pakistan in 1992, when the World Cup was last
hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and also lost
the finals in 1979 and 1987.
England has moved on from Cook, Pietersen and
what was a destabilizing 2014 in every respect. But
probably not enough to be lifting the World Cup trophy
in Melbourne on March 29. (AP)
February 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
2015 ICC WORLD CUP
England's captain Eoin Morgan, centre, talks with his
bowler Stuart Broad during their One Day
International cricket match against Australia in
Sydney, on January 16, 2015. AP PHOTO
Is England coming to an end?
HARARE---For a team
that spent the last two
years battling with its
board over wages and
contract issues, Zim-
babwe s chaotic depar-
ture for the Cricket
World Cup was fitting.
The players almost
missed their flight
because of arguments
over their payments for
the tournament. Local
media reported the
players themselves dif-
fered this time on the
allocation of the
$650,000 to be shared
by the 15-man squad.
Zimbabwe s cricket
team is used to being
overshadowed by off-
field issues. It all means
that a country once
capable of pulling off
surprise results at the
World Cup---and which
reached the Super Six
stage in 1999 and
2003---appears set to
have little impact on
the upcoming show-
piece in Australia and
Zimbabwe s last lim-
series before the World
Cup, a 5-0 drubbing at
the hands of fellow
indicates the desperate
time the team may face
in the tournament.
As for the other
troubles, a proposed
player payment plan
would see four senior
Masakadza and Prosper
appearance fee of
around $70,000 each,
with the rest of the
squad getting half of
Before the team s
departure, the arrival of
new coach Dav What-
more delivered a ray of
Whatmore, the Aus-
tralian who helped
mastermind Sri Lanka s
run to the 1996 World
Cup title, was appoint-
ed in December follow-
ing the firing of
who had been at the
helm for just seven
ISLAMABAD---For Afghanistan, the
2015 World Cup will be an historic
occasion, win, lose or draw. The
Afghan team qualified for the first
time for the most prestigious tourna-
ment in limited-overs cricket, joining
the ten test-ranked nations plus Ire-
land, Scotland and the United Arab
Emirates in the tournament being co-
hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Since eliminating Pakistan from the
2007 Cricket World Cup, Ireland has
been one of the most closely watched
teams among the Associate Member
The goal for all the four associates
is to progress from the group stage to
the Super Eight, but to make it happen
they have to upset some of the sport s
For Ireland---making its third straight
World Cup appearance---that means
overcoming the likes of South Africa,
India, Pakistan and the West Indies in
a Pool B that also includes Zimbabwe
and fellow-associate the UAE.
Former captain Trent Johnston says
if Ireland bowlers make early inroads,
the team has enough batting resources
to challenge any team in its group.
"If it can take early wickets ... their
powerful batting line up, which is as
good as many full (ICC) members, has
the potential to take it to the next stage
of the World Cup," he said.
Johnston added that the World Cup
is the perfect opportunity for the sec-
ond-tier teams to improve their status
"The best associate teams need the
global exposure, which the World Cup
offers, and their players deserve the
opportunity to gain experience against
the best in the world," he said.
Afghanistan is drawn with hosts Aus-
tralia and New Zealand along with Eng-
land and Sri Lanka in a tough Pool A,
but can realistically like its chances
against Bangladesh and Scotland.
"A great achievement would be to
qualify for the Super Eight ... it would
be like winning the World Cup for
Afghanistan," coach Andy Moles said.
The rapid rise in the progress of
Afghanistan nearly earned the team a
place at the 2011 World Cup. Back-to-
back victories against Kenya in the 2013
World Cricket League Championship
earned the Afghan team a spot in 2015.
Playing mostly on the slow wickets
in the United Arab Emirates, which is
the Afghanistan team s home ground
away from home, they will be tested
on the fast bouncy wickets in Australia
and New Zealand.
"One thing which can go against us
is the conditions," Afghanistan s former
captain Nawroz Mangal said. "The
pitches there are not like Asian wick-
Scotland will be competing in its
third World Cup after winning the last
qualifier in New Zealand in 2014. The
Scots, who competed in 1999 and 2007,
have spent their winter honing their
skills under the tutelage of former Eng-
land captain Paul Collingwood.
Scotland lost all eight of its matches
so far at the World Cup and is yet to
pass the 200-run mark in a World Cup
match. That could change, with Scot-
land having two matches in a venue
that should feel a little bit like home.
The matches against New Zealand on
Feb. 17 and Afghanistan on Feb. 22 are
in Dunedin, which was settled by Scot-
tish migrants and is known as the Edin-
burgh of the South. (AP)
Afghanistan, Ireland lead exciting batch of associates
In this file photo taken Saturday, September 13, 2014, captain of the Afghan
national cricket team Mohammad Nabi, from left, and his teammates Karim
Sadiq and Nawroz Mangal hold the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy in Kabul
international cricket stadium in Afghanistan. AP PHOTO
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