• CWC countdown (8 days to go)

    Australian Aaron Finch says the lack of a fifth fielder outside the circle has a greater impact on the game than the size of a batsman’s bat.

    Finch’s comments to ESPNcricinfo follows Wednesday’s interview with ICC chief executive David Richardson, who said modern bats give an unfair advantage to batsman, especially in ODI cricket.

    One of the ways the ICC plans to rectify the ‘imbalance’ is to push boundary ropes as far back as 90 yards where possible, starting at the World Cup.

    Finch, however, believes the absence of a fifth fielder outside the circle has a greater impact on the balance between bat and ball in ODI cricket.

    ‘I think the size that we’ve seen over the summer for Davey (David Warner, his opening partner), it’s getting a bit ridiculous isn’t it if we’re honest,’ Finch said.

    ‘It just makes it easy to hit sixes, which we know he does anyway. At times he could use a toothpick and get them over the fence.

    ‘I think it definitely has an impact but two new balls makes a huge difference as well. In the past, reverse swing and a 50-over old ball, it was quite hard to get it over the rope, it would get pretty soft. But now with a 25-over old ball, a lot of the time they’re still riding on it at the end of the game. So it stays rock hard, the wickets are good, there’s more pace in the wickets these days, especially in Australia.

    ‘Also four (fielders) out of the circle. That’s the big thing that I think makes a huge difference. The guys have confidence that they’re not hitting over blokes’ heads on the boundary anymore, they’re just hitting to an (empty) area of the ground. Combined with everything, I don’t think the bats make the biggest difference.’


    Pakistan on Thursday gave Rahat Ali, the rookie left-arm fast bowler, a surprise World Cup call-up to replace the injured Junaid Khan.

    Ali, 26, has played just one One-Day International, in 2012, and was not considered for any of the 10 ODIs Pakistan played in the build-up to the World Cup, which starts on 14 February in Australia and New Zealand.

    Junaid was ruled out of the tournament earlier this week after failing to recover from a leg injury he sustained last month.


    Former England captain Kevin Pietersen will be attending the World Cup after all. As a commentator.

    The controversial batsman will entertain listeners with a microphone rather than a bat after the BBC signed him as a radio commentator as part of their Test Match Special commentary team (TMS).

    Pietersen will only be joining the team on air from the quarter-finals onwards.

    ‘I really enjoyed having a go at some commentary during the Big Bash,’ said Pietersen.

    ‘It will be good to return to Australia for the climax of what should be an exciting tournament.’

    TMS will commentate on all games via Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra. Pietersen’s fellow pundits will include Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Vaughan, Graeme Swann, Vic Marks and England Women’s World Cup winner Ebony Rainford-Brent.

    They will be alongside Jonathan Agnew, Alison Mitchell, Simon Mann, Charles Dagnall and Kevin Howells, along with international legends of the game in Kapil Dev, Allan Border, Jeremy Coney and Sunil Gavaskar.


    Australia coach Darren Lehmann has warned George Bailey to start scoring runs or risk being dropped for the World Cup.

    The coach has made it clear that Bailey wouldn’t be afforded special treatment which means the vice-captaincy won’t protect him from getting axed, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

    Bailey is under pressure to keep his place in the Australian team, not just because of his dry spell with the bat, but also because of captain Michael Clarke’s imminent return from injury.

    However, Bailey remains Australia’s highest-ranked ODI player (10th on the ICC rankings) but it doesn’t seem as if this will be enough to keep him in the side while Lehmann works out his best XI.

    Bailey has only averaged 22.26 in ODI’s since he was dropped from the Test team last year; his strike-rate of 70.85 also not being good enough.

    He has scored just one half-century in his last 14 innings.

    Meanwhile, Clarke took a big step towards full-fitness when he surprised everyone by bowling himself in a practice ODI match for a Cricket Australia XI against Bangladesh on Thursday, which Australia won by 5 wickets.

    Clarke didn’t seem to have any discomfort from his hamstring as he bowled two overs of spin and took a good, low catch in the slips.