Hosts England will kick off the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in exactly a week’s time at the Oval against South Africa, and the time for talking is almost over.
All ten teams will play each other in a new-look round-robin stage, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals – a change in format that makes this year’s edition more competitive than ever.
And Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli and the ten tournament skippers can’t wait to get started, with a series of warm-up matches scheduled around the country in the next week.
Meanwhile, the Film Shed in London’s trendy east end played host to the official captain’s media launch of the upcoming World Cup on Thursday afternoon.
During the Captains’ Day function, all the 10 skippers were given a hypothetical situation wherein they could pick any player from the other side and there were some interesting answers with answers ranging from Jos Buttler to Rashid Khan.
“It is very difficult to choose someone. We feel we are such a strong side. But if I have to choose one from the current lot, since AB (de Villiers) is retired now, I would choose Faf (du Plessis),” said Kohli.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza picked Kohli to be a part of his side. Pointing towards Kohli, Mortaza said: “I would choose that guy.”
Du Plessis preferred to pick bowlers rather than batsmen but when asked if he would not like to have Kohli in his team, the South African said: “Virat is in my batting team”.
“I will pick a few players, mainly bowlers. For bowling attack – Jasprit Bumrah, he is bowling really well at the moment. As Virat said, he is multi-format bowler. Then there is exciting spinner Rashid Khan, Pat Cummins from Australia.
Team that will go till the end of the tournament will be the ones that do well with the ball. Bowlers who have capabilities of taking wickets,” said du Plessis.
New Zealander Kane Williamson agreed with his the Proteas skipper, saying bowlers will play a key role. “Bowlers will play a big part and I would love to have Rashid Khan in my team,” said Williamson.
England skipper Eoin Morgan said: “I won’t change anything about my team. Ponting is part of Australia’s coaching side, so I would take Ricky Ponting.”
Pakistan’s Sarfaraz Ahmed picked up Jos Butler, while Australian Aaron Finch went for the Proteas speedster Kagiso Rabada. “Rabada is one guy who has amazing energy. He is a superstar,” said Finch.
Choice for Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne was Ben Stokes. “He (Stokes) is a game changer. We know what he can do.”
Windies skipper Jason Holder, though, didn’t name anyone and noted that he was happy with his team. Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib gave a smart answer to the question and said that it depends on the day and the conditions.