As we approach the start of the 2019 World Cup in England, let’s look at some interesting happenings around squad announcements. England and Pakistan were the last ones to announce their 15 while New Zealand announced theirs about two months ago now.
The squad announcements had lots of drama. The player snubs and injuries did not help the matters either. The limit of a 15 member unit was a tough one as it meant that teams had to take some really harsh decisions. New Zealand announced theirs first and their 15 possibly was the most low profile one. The players who were expected were there with possibly the selection of Tom Blundell being the only contentious one. Afghanistan & Bangladesh squads also went through without much drama as well.
The Indian squad announcement was the first one to generate lots of news. The selection of Vijay Shankar over Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant is being talked about even till now. While Rishabh Pant took the snub pretty well, Rayudu on the other hand wasn’t quite impressed with MSK Prasad’s “Three Dimensional” player comment. He did come out with a witty tweet as a response to that after the squad was announced. Rayudu’s frustration obviously was due to the fact that he isn’t getting any younger and this might be his last chance to play a world tournament.
The Pakistan and England selectors though looked the most confused. They just couldn’t make up their mind with their 15. They decided to release a so called “Provisional Squad” and a squad for their series with each other in England. This confused a lot of the fans but again for England it was some sort of an elaborate plan to get Jofra Archer into the 15. For Pakistan though, well, they were actually confused. Why else would you select a rookie just because he scored a hundred and then drop him from the 15 after giving him just one chance on the tour?
While England were probably trying to counter the unrest among their bowlers who were feeling hard done by the selection of Archer, Pakistan were probably doing the same because they had no clue. It was quite funny the way England approached this though. They did say that Archer’s performances in the Pakistan series will determine his inclusion in the 15 but again he just played 2 games out of 5 and did not do anything exceptional in them. The English selectors lost everyone in the end when they picked Liam Dawson, who did not play in the series and had last played the format in October of 2018. That was some selection when you think that David Willey who was part of the squad was the one who had to face the cut. Willey on his part though was generous and did say that he will continue to support his team in the world cup.
The Pakistan drama completely trumped whatever we we saw with England selection. Their confusion on whether to select the “Wicket less” Mohammad Amir or not was the biggest talking point of their squad announcement. He was indeed dropped from the “Provisional” squad though initially and came back without doing anything extraordinary. While he did not make a mark in the ODI series against England, he was indeed selected much to the dismay of Junaid Khan who wasn’t impressed and decided to post a picture of himself with a plaster on his mouth (He did take that down though). The other left field selection was of Wahab Riaz who was plucked out of wilderness. Riaz who hadn’t played a single ODI for Pakistan since his drubbing against India on June 4, 2017 was surprised himself with the call up. He did dream about it though few days before the squad announcement, that probably makes it a little okay.
Wahab speaking about his “Dream”:
“Inzi Bhai came in my dream a few days ago, calling me up and saying that Wahab this is your last chance, you’re going to play the World Cup.”
While there wasn’t a huge outrage over the Sri Lankan squad, the absence of Dinesh Chandimal and Akila Dananjaya was a shocker. Even though Chandimal hasn’t been scoring too many runs, Sri Lanka could use whatever experience they have in a brittle line up. Danajaya’s drop might have something to do with his action being reported in 2018 December though.
While Australia’s squad was almost spot on, the absence of Peter Handscomb and Josh Hazlewood were the only sore point. While Hazlewood had been injured and did not play much ODIs, Handscomb who had a brilliant 2019 would have felt little hard done by the omission. Australia also suffered a injury loss ahead of the competition where they lost Jhye Richardson and had to draft in Kane Richardson as his replacement and not Hazlewood. So Hazlewood said what all England-Australia players do after such a snub, something about the Ashes.
He Said “It’ll obviously mean I have a few more four-day games with the Dukes ball in England, so that’s going to be fantastic for me,” he said.
“And probably put me a step ahead of a few other guys who are only going to get the one red-ball game before the Ashes.”
South Africa as well had to do a swap as they had to replace Anrich Nortje with Chirs Morris as the former suffered a shoulder injury. They also had to wait on the fitness of Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada but again they seem to be okay now.
The Indian camp also went through an injury scare with Kedar Jadhav but he recovered on time to board the plane with the rest of the squad.
While all the teams are now ready to take the challenge of the world cup head on, the months leading to the marquee tournament wasn’t without it’s drama. If the world cup is half as good as the squad announcements, we are in for a treat.