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Ryan Harris calls for rethink on reduction of teams at next World Cup

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Nanjing Night Net

He’s watching the World Cup from the sidelines as he freshens up for his main event of the year – the Ashes tour – but Ryan Harris has added his voice to the growing call for the ICC to rethink plans for the next tournament in 2019. The likes of Ireland and Afghanistan face a far more difficult task in qualifying in four years’ time with the number of competing teams to be lowered from 14 to 10 and Harris is the latest big name to argue against the reduction. “Those who are calling for the number of teams in the World Cup to be reduced and that there’s no place for the associate nations might want to rethink that view,” Harris said in a column for cricket南京夜网.au. “Watching Afghanistan play, who would have thought a nation that had no formal cricket competitions 15 years ago and were playing fifth division not long before the previous World Cup in India would not only be playing here but would win a game? That’s great for the growth of the game and I believe the associate teams need to be in. For Afghanistan to play against Australia and Ireland to come up against South Africa and India would be a dream come true for a lot of those guys and not only do they deserve to be there, their results show they belong.” They won’t make the quarter-finals but the Afghans did make more runs against New Zealand than both Australia and England.

Proteas have a lot of work to do

We’ve all suspected South Africa can be dodgy under pressure but we did not think it would be a recent former captain highlighting the issue. Graeme Smith, who retired from international cricket 12 months ago, has questioned the Proteas’ ability to chase, saying it was a “glaring issue”. Both of South Africa’s losses this campaign have come batting second, which, Smith argues, continues a worrying trend. Smith pointed out the Proteas had won only 39 per cent of games when chasing since January 2013 and are 3-10 when faced with target of 240 or more. They clearly prefer defending, with a 24-8 record. Smith also dragged out the Proteas’ tortured World Cup history. Apart from their 2007 loss to Australia, they have batted second each time they were eliminated. Smith said likely quarter-final opponents Australia and Sri Lanka “would definitely have noted that their chasing travails continued. The only lesson that came from this batting rehearsal today was that they have a lot more work to do in very little time,” Smith said.

To the left

The omission of Josh Hazlewood at the SCG on Sunday got us thinking how often Australia have played without a right-arm fast bowler in their side. After a hunt around we reckon it’s only happened in an ODI once before, against South Africa in the final of the tri-series in Zimbabwe last September. The left-leaning pace line-up on that occasion was the same as against Sri Lanka, featuring the two Mitchells, Starc and Johnson, and James Faulkner.

Umpires’ lesson

They’re at their best when they are barely noticed but that doesn’t mean the umpires in the World Cup aren’t taking the tournament as seriously as the players. ICC umpires coach Simon Taufel is pushing their “third team” concept – ie, that the 12-member ICC Elite Panel is a team of its own – and had rugby World Cup winning captain John Eales along just before the World Cup for a pre-tournament rev-up. “He gave some really good lessons from playing in two successful World Cups for Australia but also the leadership aspect … forgiving himself for making mistakes kicking for goal, which was a really important message,” Taufel said. “In our game we still make mistakes. Our job is minimise them.”

Patterson injury

NSW had Sunday afternoon off after wrapping up victory over Tasmania at Bankstown but it wasn’t all smiles. Kurtis Patterson suffered a painful injury in the field, losing a fingernail. The batsman will miss this week’s game against Western Australia at the WACA Ground, where the Blues can seal a spot in the Sheffield Shield final.

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