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    February 15, 2007

    World Cup squads: England, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe

    England, Pakistan and Zimbabwe named their squads yesterday while South Africa and West Indies did so today.

    England have largely retained the core of the squad which won the triangular series in Australia, shocking everyone! Michael Vaughan (hamstring problem, knee problem and stellar one-day batsman) will lead the side, one of the rare instances where a team would have gone into a World Cup without quite knowing if their leader was a specialist batsman, bowler, fielder or an all-rounder. In fact, England don't even know who their vice-captain is.

    <DIGRESSION>I remember reading in Sunil Gavaskar's "Sunny Days" book that there was an occasion when the incumbent captain (Pataudi?) went off the field without letting anyone know who was in charge. There was apparently a lot of humming and hawing and the contenders were Bedi, Venkataraghavan, Gavaskar and Engineer. Then Pataudi sent in word that Gavaskar was to take charge.</DIGRESSION>

    England really ought to try and get the rules changed to allow Vaughan to be named as a non-playing captain. Perhaps 18 months ago, they'd have had the BCCI's support, given Ganguly's travails then. Ravinder Bopara was the only sort of surprise. Mal Loye definitely did hit some exhilarating sixes over fineleg off the quicks. But aside from that, he was pretty unidimensional.

    Pakistan, totally out of the blue, picked Danish Kaneria in the squad. Kaneria has played just 16 one-dayers since making his one-day debut in 2001. Against the major teams, he's taken 7 wickets from 10 games at an average of 57, economy rate of 4.9 and strike rate of 69. All of which point to a huge punt by the PCB. The fitness status of Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif can at best be speculated, which is what you could say about the potentially scandalous rumour that Asif and Shoaib have failed YAIDT.

    South Africa's squad is as predictable as their cricket. Most of the chaps have played a lot of games throughout the summer, against India and Pakistan. They're on a roll, just about everyone is in great form and if New Zealand defeat a depleted Australian side in the Chappell-Hadlee trophy, South Africa will become #1 in the asafoetida brand rankings.

    The hosts, West Indies, had no surprises either. Without meaning to pronounce Samuels guilty, I wonder if he leaked out the squad information too! Speaking of West Indies, I remember seeing this Indian-origin fast medium bowler Ravi Rampaul a few times in one-day cricket. He seems to have disappeared after that. The only question that may have nagged the selectors was if they should replace Ramdin with Baugh. That didn't happen.

    The last of the full members of the ICC, Zimbabwe, announced a squad which I can barely recognize, with Stuart Matsikenyeri (1 game at the 2003 World Cup) and Gary Brent being the only ones to have made a debut before 2004!

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 11:00 AM |
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