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Warming Up For The World Cup

Dear [subscriber:firstname | default:reader],

With the World Cup starting with England playing South Africa at Lord’s on 30 May, excitement is mounting.

Squad selection had to be done by 23 April but the final selections don’t have to be announced till 23 May. Realistically England are the only team likely to make much use of this extended deadline. They are the home country, they have played an ODI against Ireland (won thanks to a superb performance by surely the best player guaranteed not to appear in the tournament, England’s reserve wicketkeeper Ben Foakes) and are currently half way through a full five match series with Pakistan. The big question remains, who will make way for Jofra Archer? Each of the prime candidates - Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Tom Curran has done something creditable in the series against Pakistan. But it seems inconceivable that Archer, faster and seemingly more threatening than anyone else, can be left out.

Generally, the Pakistan series has so far confirmed what everybody knows - that England, when conditions are in their favour, are an astonishingly good side. Jos Buttler’s innings at the Ageas Bowl was simply awe-inspiring, and to chase down 359 in Bristol with five overs to spare - well, what can one say?

One change in personnel has already been forced on England. It was mentioned in the last newsletter that reserve batsman Alex Hales had withdrawn from all cricket for personal reasons. It transpired - the story being broken in The Guardian - that he had tested positive for a recreational drug. The story is a little confusing, in terms of who knew what and when - suggestions were even made that if The Guardian had not published the story Hales might have played- but in the final analysis it seems that captain Eoin Morgan and the senior players felt there had been a breakdown of trust between them and Hales. What is beyond doubt is that Hales has played his considerable hand - he is an outstanding one-day batsman - incredibly badly.

You don’t have to be a hard-bitten puritan to wonder whether Hales’s suspension, and the conviction for rape of former Worcestershire batsman Alex Hepburn (in the context of a WhatsApp “sexual conquest” game involving some of his teammates), which happened around the same time, suggests a slightly unfortunate culture around professional cricket in England.

To mark the countdown to the World Cup, Pavilion End will be publishing short accounts of each of the eleven previous tournaments. In no particular chronological order, this series starts with the 2007 version, in the Caribbean, which is online now.
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On the domestic front we have raced through the 50 over Royal London Cup. As predicted here, Hampshire have been the team to watch, winning seven of their eight South group matches and easing past Lancashire in the semi-final. Captain James Vince was outstanding. He replaces Hales in the World Cup squad, and it would be no surprise if all-rounder Liam Dawson were to join him. They will play Somerset in the final, the last such occasion to be held at Lord’s.

Talking of Lord’s, there is no doubt as to the best off-field story: the nomination by MCC President Anthony Wreford of Kumar Sangakkara as his successor. Coming just a few weeks after the tragic and traumatic terrorist attacks in Colombo and elsewhere in Sri Lanka, this at least gave some reason for that ill -fated and beautiful land to celebrate. It is worthy recognition of one of the greatest cricketers of our time, and one of the most interesting.

One point about red ball cricket - and really about the ball. It was mentioned in the last newsletter that a new Dukes ball was to be used in England this summer, with a less prominent seam. But enlightened self-interest has prevailed. The “old” Dukes ball will be used in The Ashes. Batsmen beware.

Men's Cricket World Cup 2007

Which has been the most unsatisfactory of the eleven Men’s World Cups held so far? Everybody might have a different view of course. A lot of England supporters would opt for 1999. England as hosts had a dreadful tournament, organisations seemed shambolic, the final was a walkover for Australia. That said there were some terrific games. South Africans might go …
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My articles From The Pavilion End reflect on current cricketing events while exploring the game's rich history. Please encourage your cricket friends to visit and subscribe.
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