Langer admits excluding Handscomb from Australia's World Cup squad was a 'tough call'

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Handscomb failed to make the cut for Australia's World Cup squad.

Australia coach Justin Langer has empathised with Peter Handscomb after the middle-order batsman agonisingly failed to make the cut for the 2019 ICC World Cup squad.

Handscomb had been in excellent touch for Australia of late with the right-hander putting in some good displays in the recent limited-overs clashes against India and Pakistan.

However, Handscomb failed to find a place in Australia’s 15-man World Cup squad announced on Monday as Steve Smith and David Warner made their returns after a one-year absence.

“Selection is always hard, there’s no doubt about that. It’s the toughest part of the job. It has been for as long as I’ve been coaching but certainly last Tuesday was really tough,” Langer told RSN Radio.

“Pete (Handscomb) is terribly stiff to miss out. He’s all class. I spoke to him yesterday. He’s literally all class. He’s another ripper.”

Smith's return spelled the end of Handscomb's WC hopes.

Smith’s return spelled the end of Handscomb’s WC hopes.

“I can give you all the cliches, I can try to find some good reasons, but the truth is I can’t tell you how close he was to being selected. He had a brilliant time of it. He played exactly the role that we talked about for the back end of the ODI summer and in India and the UAE. He did a great job.”

Langer has backed Smith to perform the same role as Handscomb in the batting order as the former skipper gets ready to mark his national team return after suspension.

“He’s (Handscomb) super fit and a terrific young bloke. He gets on and does his job. But we just felt that Steve Smith would play that same role and Steve Smith is one of the all-time greats of Australian cricket,” the Aussie coach stated.

Australia’s World Cup preparations get underway next month when they take on a New Zealand XI in three unofficial one-dayers. They open their World Cup campaign in England on June 1 against Afghanistan.

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England's Ben Stokes calls Jofra Archer the most 'naturally gifted' bowler he has seen

Sudhir Gupta 13/04/2019
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Rajasthan Royals pacer Jofra Archer. Image - @rajasthanroyals/Twitter.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has described his Rajasthan Royals team-mate Jofra Archer as the most ‘naturally gifted’ bowler he has ever seen.

With the Barbados-born Archer likely to be fast-tracked into England’s squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup, Stokes has given the express pacer his stamp of approval.

Both the players are currently representing Rajasthan in the ongoing 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) where Archer has picked up seven wickets in as many matches so far.

“Jofra makes any team better,” Stokes said about his potential future England team-mate in The Doosra podcast.

“He is the most naturally gifted bowler I’ve seen and I don’t think he realises how good he is. Some of the things he can do at the click of a finger are just ‘wow’. It’s pretty special to watch.

RR all-rounder Ben Stokes. Image - @IPL/Twitter.

RR all-rounder Ben Stokes. Image – @IPL/Twitter.

“You ask him to do something and he nails it straight away. To have somebody at the pace he bowls and the skills he has… the selectors are going to be scratching their heads and it’s a great time to be an England fan and an England player.”

The last dates for participating teams to submit their final 15-man World Cup squads is April 23. No1 ranked England are expected to announce their squad on April 17.

When asked if he sees Archer making the cut for the World Cup squad, Stokes replied, “It’s a tough question but it’s a great position to be in as an England team when you’ve got a player with the skill level Jofra’s got.”

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Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman adds to injury concerns ahead of 2019 World Cup

Waseem Ahmed 13/04/2019
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Mustafizur Rahman has been ruled out for two weeks at least.

Pacer Mustafizur Rahman has added to Bangladesh’s growing injury concerns ahead of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.

The left-armed pacer recently hurt his ankle while training is now set to be ruled out for two weeks at least. Mustafizur is expected to make the final 15-man Bangladesh World Cup squad but the pacer could now miss the early stages of the tournament including the warm-up matches in England.

“There is no fracture-related injury but there is some pain in the ligament, a lateral ankle sprain,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief physio Dr Debashish Chowdhury told the Daily Star.

“He had suffered this kind of sprain before but predictions regarding these injuries are difficult.

“He will rest partially with little exercise in between and his condition will be reassessed two weeks from now.”

Mustafizur will be crucial to Bangladesh's World Cup hopes.

Mustafizur will be crucial to Bangladesh’s World Cup hopes.

Mustafizur is not the only Bangladesh player sweating over their fitness ahead of the World Cup with wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim still nursing a broken rib-cage he sustained during the Asia Cup last year.

Batting stalwart Mahmudullah, meanwhile, has only just resumed batting in the nets after recovering from a shoulder injury. Pacers Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed are also currently recuperating from injuries.

The final deadline for the announcement of the 2019 World Cup squads is April 23. Bangladesh will open their WC campaign on June 2 against South Africa at the Oval in London. Prior to arriving in England, the Bangladesh ODI squad will participate in a tri-series in Ireland also involving West Indies.

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