• CWC countdown (11 days to go)

    Former Proteas off-spinner Johan Botha has hit out at Cricket South Africa after missing out on the World Cup squad for the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

    In an interview with Netwerk24, Botha called into question the policy of not picking cricketers who play their trade overseas, while rugby players are allowed to earn money playing anywhere in the world and still be considered for the Springboks.

    Botha left South Africa after the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September 2012 after Cricket South Africa released him from his contract. He then joined South Australia and has captained them for the past three seasons.

    Botha revealed that he spoke to Proteas coach Russell Domingo when he was in South Africa last winter.

    ‘I told him I am still available for selection and that I still want to represent my country.

    ‘However, he made it clear that I had to play my cricket in South Africa if I wanted to be considered and that there was no guarantee that I would make the World Cup team.

    ‘South African rugby players can earn their money any place in the world and still play for the Springboks. Why can’t that be the same for cricketers?’

    Bring back Botha, said Graeme Pollock in a November 2014 column

    India fast bowler Ishant Sharma is a major doubt for the tournament, with reports suggesting that the team management is already resigned to losing his services.

    Sharma has taken 106 wickets in 76 ODIs and the 26-year-old missed the most recent ODI against Australia in Sydney, prompting fears of his well-being.

    Meanwhile, in Australian newspapers, Michael Clarke has had to deny a rift with current captain Steve Smith. After hitting a half-century for Western Suburbs in his grade cricket comeback on Saturday, on Monday he confronted the rumours head on. ‘Disappointing is probably the right word, that a few people have written a few things that I certainly don’t believe are true,’ Clarke said when asked about rumours of a rift with Cricket Australia.

    ‘But they’re obviously getting information from somewhere.’

    Australia’s fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has also indicated he’s open to dropping to a first-change role, and leave fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc to open the attack.

    ‘We’ve got two left-armers and got to think about what’s best for our team – if it’s me coming on first change I’d be happy to do that,’ Johnson told media. ‘I’ve always said I love opening the bowling for my country, [but] it will be something that game to game will come up in our team meetings. I’ll talk to Darren [Lehmann] about it and George [Bailey] and the bowling unit. Personally I’ve got confidence because I’ve been able to open the bowling, first change, second change, Powerplays. So I’m happy to bowl anywhere to be honest.

    ‘It feels nice to do it to any team, to go out there and perform at your best and do the job that you’ve been put in the team for. My job is to go out there and try to bowl fast and be aggressive and take wickets. I felt like I was pretty close to that. That’s what really excites me and the bowling unit we have has been able to stand up and bowl well throughout the series so exciting times ahead for the Australian cricket team I think,’ he added.

    James Faulkner, the big-hitting Australian all rounder, is also a concern. Cricket Australia’s official line was that Faulkner had soreness in his side/rib area after the victory against England on Sunday. An update is expected in the coming days, but Australia must desperately hope it is not a side strain, for Faulkner would be hard to replace in the World Cup.

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