World Cup 2019: McGrath backs Australia's arch-rivals England as favourites for title

Sudhir Gupta 27/05/2019
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England are McGrath's favourites for the World Cup.

Australia bowling legend Glenn McGrath has picked hosts England as his team to beat in the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup.

McGrath, who played in four World Cup editions while winning three of them with Australia, believes No1 ranked England and India are the two standouts teams for the upcoming 2019 edition.

“England, a very good one-day unit,” McGrath told ESPNcricinfo in an interview when asked to name his favourites.

“To me they are the favourites going into this World Cup, so I think they’ll do very well. You’ve got to go on current form. The England team – the way they go about it, they have impressed me.

“They have scored some big, big totals. Most teams used to go hard in the first 15 and the last 15, and consolidate in the middle. But teams like England, India are just going hard the whole 50 overs, and that’s the impact T20 cricket has had.”

McGrath won three World Cup titles with Australia.

McGrath won three World Cup titles with Australia.

McGrath has backed Australia to do well in the World Cup as well following their recent ODI resurgence. After a disastrous 2018, Australia had bounced back strongly with eight straight wins over the likes of India and Pakistan in Asia before arriving at England for the World Cup.

“The two standouts to me were India and England, with fingers crossed, Australia doing well. South Africa are always a good team, West Indies are bit of a dark horse – they can play really well or badly, probably similar to Pakistan. England and India are tough to beat, but with Australia’s form, I think we’ll see them make the final,” he stated.

“I was a little bit concerned how Australia were going to go, but their form of late has really impressed me. They’ve performed really well in conditions that are not suited to them, so that bodes well for their chances. I’d like to think that they’ll make the finals.

“India are a quality one-day unit as well. They’ll be in the running.”

The 2019 ICC World Cup gets underway on May 30 with hosts England taking on South Africa in the tournament opener at The Oval, London.

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Jason Roy and Jofra Archer help England brush Afghanistan aside in warm-up

Rory Dollard 27/05/2019
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Jason Roy blasted 89 against Afghanistan.

England romped to a walkover victory in their final World Cup warm-up, with Jason Roy making light work of Afghanistan’s flimsy total at The Oval.

Two days after losing their previous practice match to Australia, the hosts banked a morale-boosting nine-wicket win ahead of Thursday’s curtain-raiser, Roy clubbing 89 not out.

Afghanistan were dismissed for just 160, Jofra Archer leading the way with three wickets and Joe Root matching that haul with his part-time spin. The chase was conducted with brutal disdain by Roy, smashing 11 fours and four sixes in his 46-ball stay.

The Surrey man finished it in the 18th over with a maximum beyond mid-wicket, leaving 195 deliveries unused.

There was more good news from England’s medical department too, with paceman Mark Wood cleared for action against South Africa after an all-clear from scans on his left ankle.

Captain Eoin Morgan was also back from his fractured finger, but opted not to field and was not needed with the bat.

Jofra Archer picked up three wickets.

Jofra Archer picked up three wickets.

Faced with a paltry chase on a docile wicket, England’s opening pair were never likely to take a timid approach.

Roy confirmed as much when he chopped the first ball for four and Jonny Bairstow needed no invitation to follow suit, cracking Dawlat Zadran for back-to-back boundaries.

After leaking 32 from three overs Afghanistan sent an SOS to star man Rashid Khan but even an over of his tricky leg-spin failed to slow the charge. Roy pierced the infield to take four from his loosener and Rashid departed again after five more runs from his next five balls.

Roy was badly dropped by Dawlat on 20 and it proved a painful error, England cashing in with 30 runs in two overs. Bairstow’s fun stopped on 39 when Mohammad Nabi beat him on the outside edge and his trailing boot lifted just long enough for Rahmat Shah to make a smart stumping.

Root played anchor for 29 not out as Roy continued swinging the bat, a turbo-charged ramp shot off Gulbadin Naib and a slog-sweep against Rashid both soaring for six before the early finish.

Archer had earlier kickstarted the collapse with a brisk new-ball spell, drawing a top edge from Hazratullah before Rahmat was cramped for room and spoon-fed a catch to mid-on. Having not been named in England’s preliminary World Cup squad, it increasingly appears impossible that the 24-year-old will not take the new ball in the opening fixture.

Opener Noor Ali offered some resistance, scrapping to 30 before playing Ben Stokes into his off stump attempting an uncertain stroke.

With Hashmatullah chewing up dot balls at one end, former captain Asghar Afghan decided the introduction of Root’s occasional spin could not go unpunished. After missing out on a full toss, Asghar tried to launch his second ball over the ropes but instead picked out Roy in the deep.

The next four wickets tumbled in the space of just seven deliveries, Hashmatullah and Najibullah Zadran carelessly run out, Gulbadin holing out to Moeen Ali and Rashid guided Root to slip for a golden duck. It was a calamitous period for the Afghans, who were shaping to use up little more than half their allotted overs.

Nabi spared them from the worst projections, striking three sixes and inflating the total by 68 alongside the last two batsmen.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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World Cup 2019: Mahela Jayawardane rejects chance to join Sri Lanka's backroom staff

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Former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardane (r).

Sri Lanka icon and former skipper Mahela Jayawardane has revealed that he twice turned down a chance to join the team’s backroom staff for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup campaign.

Jayawardane, who has coached Mumbai Indians to two IPL titles, has stated that he was approached recently by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) as well as the Sri Lankan Sports Minister but declined on both occasions.

The former Sri Lankan skipper has previously expressed his dismay with the SLC after his proposals to revamp the domestic cricket structure were ignored and has vowed not work with the administration in its current form.

“I was invited but I have several other commitments. More than that, I didn’t understand the role I am expected to play,” Jayawardane told the Sunday Times.

Jayawardane has previously served as England's batting consultant.

Jayawardane has previously served as England’s batting consultant.

“There’s no point in me getting involved tactically, or whatever, if I don’t have a say in the whole structure. The team is selected and everything is done and dusted. There is no room for me to come in and add something.

“I am still happy to contribute in my little way with the management of the team, but nothing to do with the SLC. That’s something I have told myself as well. I just don’t have the appetite to come and work for anybody when I know that it’s not the right place for me.”

A legend of Sri Lankan cricket, Jayawardane has 11,814 and 12,650 runs respectively for his country in the Test and ODI formats. He had previously served as the batting consultant for England for a short period in 2015.

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