World Cup Central: Gavaskar calls 1985 fielding side better than current one

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Commentator Sunil Gavaskar on the field ahead of the Bangladesh-India match  •  Getty Images

Commentator Sunil Gavaskar on the field ahead of the Bangladesh-India match  •  Getty Images

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The Indian team that's started its World Cup 2019 campaign is among the most balanced, most powerful sides in the country's ODI history, correct? They are the acme of athletic prowess, and therefore the best fielding team India have ever put out to, correct?
Wrong, according to Sunil Gavaskar, who says the side that won the World Championship of Cricket in 1985 - who were already the reigning world champions then - were a fitter and better fielding side.
"The 1985 Indian team that won the World Championship of Cricket had probably the best fielding team, even better than this one," Gavaskar said during a panel discussion on the Aaj Tak channel.
When anchor Rajdeep Sardesai expressed surprise, Gavaskar reiterated with some force: "That's exactly what I'm saying. That's exactly what I am saying. Look at me as much as you want, that's exactly what I'm saying!"
Gavaskar also held that players of the past were 'fitter' than current ones because they didn't need frequent drinks breaks. "We were all fitter, because we lasted the whole game," he said. "We didn't have as many drinks on the field. Even in a T20 game, every time there is a DRS, there is a 12th man coming with drinks for the players today. They are having drinks every five-seven minutes.
"We never had that. Let me tell you also one more thing. We never had a reserve fielder waiting on the boundary for a fast bowler to have a drink after he had bowled six deliveries. That (the drink) only came after one hour. The umpires never allowed it. It's a physical game, it's a game of stamina. So batsmen are running twos and threes, and they do not get to have a drink at the end of every over - why should a fast bowler go to deep fine leg and have an energy drink after he bowls six deliveries? We didn't have that during our time."
How to do the Sheldon Salute
It's one of the most familiar wicket celebrations in the game today, maybe only behind Imran Tahir's run and Hasan Ali's explosion - the Sheldon Cottrell salute, a mark of respect to the Jamaican army.
If, like a bunch of youngsters who were part of the ICC's Cricket for Change programme involving the West Indies team, you want to try it out, here's a primer.
'We have to bat longer in the middle' - Isuru Udana
The first points are on the board for Sri Lanka, but there are enough reasons to worry as far as the rest of their campaign is concerned. Isuru Udana, who bowled a good first spell as Sri Lanka bowled out Afghanistan for 152 to seal a 34-run (DLS) win, was happy that the bowling plans had worked, but agreed that the batting had to improve further.
In overcast conditions, Sri Lanka were asked to bat and cashed in on some wayward bowling to put on a quick 92 runs for the first wicket. But from there, chiefly because of Mohammad Nabi, they collapsed for 201.
"We had some plans in our meetings and they paid off with the ball. Our batting was a problem for us though and I think it has been a problem for the last year," Udana was quoted as saying by the ICC. "We have to bat longer in the middle as we had a good partnership for the first two wickets and once again we collapsed so we need to do better.
"We knew that the ball would move and we didn't have any option but to defend, so that was the plan and thankfully we managed to keep taking wickets (in Afghanistan's chase)."

June 4

Pakistan have been fined for a slow over rate following their 14-run victory over England at Trent Bridge.
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was fined 20% of his match fee while his team-mates were fined 10% each following what the ICC considered to be "a minor over rate breach." Pakistan was ruled to be one over short of its target after time allowances were taken into consideration.
While the fine is unlikely to dilute Pakistan's delight following a memorable win, it might plant a seed of concern. If Pakistan are deemed to have committed another over-rate offence during the World Cup, Sarfaraz could be suspended for the following game, which might pose a problem given Pakistan do not have a back-up wicketkeeper in the squad.
Although England - who took 19 minutes more than the three-and-a-half hours permitted to bowl their 50 overs - escaped an over-rate penalty, Jofra Archer and Jason Roy were both fined 15% of their match fee for breaching Level One of the ICC Code of Conduct.
Roy was found to have breached Article 2.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to using audible obscenities in an international match. In addition to the fine, one demerit point was added to Roy's disciplinary record.
The incident occurred during the 14th over of Pakistan's innings when Roy used an audible obscenity after misfielding. It was not the same incident which saw Roy drop a relatively straightforward catch that reprieved Mohammad Hafeez on 14.
Archer, meanwhile, was found to have breached Article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to showing dissent at an umpire's decision.
The incident occurred in the 27th over of Pakistan's innings, when Archer was deemed to have shown dissent following a wide delivery. In addition to the fine, one demerit point has been added to Archer's disciplinary record.
When a player reaches four or more demerit points within a 24-month period, they are converted into suspension points, and a player is banned.

June 3

Thanks, but no thanks - reporters turn down interaction with India's net bowlers
From Nagraj Gollapudi in Southampton
The Indian team's indifferent attitude towards the press is a long and often-depressing story. Captain Virat Kohli is one of the most articulate cricketers of the day, but there is - and has been for several years - a high degree of reluctance when it comes to squad members and coaching staff speaking to the media.
On Monday, the apparent disinterest on the part of the team prompted the travelling Indian media to refuse a "press conference".
The background: No official Indian voice has spoken to the media since India's last warm-up match, against Bangladesh in Cardiff, on May 28 (India start their campaign on June 5). In this period, the squad has trained four times, including on Monday.
An eager - and quote-hungry - press corps arrived at Ageas Bowl in Southampton today for the scheduled media briefing. However, minutes before the conference, the Indian team spokesperson came up with a shocker: Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan, travelling with the squad as net bowlers, would be turning up.
Two net bowlers, two days before India's tournament opener? Exactly what would one ask them? And what would they say?
The explanation from the team was that since India haven't played a match in the World Cup yet, the squad members and the coaching staff had nothing to say. So the presspersons decided that there was nothing to ask. End of story.
'We are a team that bounces back' - Phehlukwayo
South Africa's World Cup hasn't gotten off to a good start, with losses to England in the tournament opener and another to Bangladesh in their second game. Next up are India, one of the favourites, and it promises to be another tough outing.
Fast-bowling allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo called the 29-run defeat to Bangladesh "one of those days", but promised a grand South African turnaround.
"There have been some bad days in my career. I've learned, and the team has learned, that it is not the end of the world," he was quoted as saying by the ICC. "We can always bounce back, we are a team that bounces back, from situations and we will definitely do it again.
"We haven't had a good start but this is a big tournament and anyone can beat anyone on any given day. If you are smart and clinical and you execute, you'll win. We've been missing that but it's coming. The coach has mentioned winning small battles, breaking partnerships and taking wickets. It's not far away."
West Indies can play one-dimensional at times - Waugh
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who led the side to victory in the 1999 World Cup, believes the upcoming match between West Indies and Australia will allow both teams to gauge where they stand in the competition, after comfortable opening wins. West Indies beat Pakistan by seven wickets, while Australia brushed Afghanistan aside with the same margin.
Waugh said that West Indies' win, when they bowled out Pakistan for 105, had vindicated the side's fast-bowling depth, but suggested their vulnerabilities against high-quality bowling and lack of mobility in the field were areas Australia could exploit.
"They [West Indies] are the most watchable team in the tournament with a batting line-up that can kidnap any bowling attack with brute force," Waugh told the ICC website. "No ground is big enough when this behemoth of a batting order clicks into overdrive but they also have a vulnerability against high-quality bowling as they tend to play one-dimensional at times.
"For the first time in a long while, they have fast-bowling depth, vindicated by Friday's win against Pakistan without their finest in Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel. Their Achilles heel, however, will be their lack of mobility in the field and this is where Australia can influence the outcome."
Waugh, however, cautioned that West Indies "could win it all" like the 2016 World T20, if they get on a roll and build momentum as the tournament progresses. The teams will play each other on June 6 in Nottingham.
When Virat Kohli tried to bowl like James Anderson
India's captain and batting ace Virat Kohli also bowls medium pace. He has sent down 950 balls in international cricket. He has eight wickets to show for it. Understandably, he has not had a bowl in internationals since December 2017, when he bowled one over in a Test match against Sri Lanka. There was a time though, when he had greater hopes for his bowling.
"I used to follow James Anderson's action when I was at the academy [as a young cricketer in Delhi]," Kohli told Star Sports. "Later, when I got to play alongside him, I told him about that story. We both had a good laugh over it."
Kohli's India team-mates, too, might have a laugh or two over his bowling. An amused Kohli said: "It was the during the ODI series in Sri Lanka [in August 2017, the last time Kohli bowled in ODIs till date], where we had almost won everything, I asked MS [Dhoni] if I could bowl. Just when I was getting ready to roll my arm over, [Jasprit] Bumrah shouted from the boundary and said, 'no joking around, this is an international game'."
Munro was expecting to be carrying drinks
Colin Munro took the chance to re-establish his claims to the opening role in New Zealand's one-day side having arrived at the World Cup expecting to be carrying the drinks.
Munro was dropped during the New Zealand season having passed fifty once in 17 innings and, having failed against India in the warm-up and not played against West Indies, he was set to be sidelined before Henry Nicholls was ruled of the Sri Lanka match with injury.
He took his opportunity with an unbeaten 58 off 47 balls in an unbroken opening stand of 137 in 16.1 overs with Martin Guptill.
"I probably came over here as the spare batsman, unfortunately [Henry] was injured and I got an opportunity," Munro said. "Luke Ronchi and the batting coaches just told me to play my natural game, watch each ball as well as I can and I came off on the right side. It was very pleasing to be not out at the end, to get through the Powerplay - there have been so many games in the New Zealand summer where I've got out in the first few overs and battled away, more of a mental battle, so to get over that was very pleasing."

June 2

Dhoni, Akhtar, Botham in All Blacks all-time cricket XV
World Cup fever has crossed platforms. There was Harry Kane sneaking into India's training sessions to meet Virat Kohli. And now there's the All Blacks picking a rugby XV made up of past and present cricketers.
And they've got some pretty cool reasons for picking some pretty cool players.
Curtly Ambrose: If anyone wants to argue with this selection then take it up with Sir Curtly himself. We dare you.
MS Dhoni: The Richie McCaw of Cricket. Enough said.
Dwayne Leverock: Famous for his one-handed catch at the 2003 World Cup, the 130kg Bermudian would surely make just as big a splash on the rugby field.

June 1

Archer the fastest bowler I've ever faced - Moeen
Jofra Archer's World Cup debut went like a dream, as he bowled with pace, accuracy and no little hostility to return 3 for 27 against South Africa.
"Jofra is amazing. He just makes good batters do different things, that pace he has is incredible. He is the fastest I have ever faced," Moeen Ali, who has had to take on Archer in the nets a fair bit in the lead-up to the World Cup, said. "It is unbelievable. He gives us that something else, he can win you games even if he goes for a few runs.
"Knowing you have him in your side makes a big difference."
England won that game, the tournament opener, by 104 runs with Archer and Ben Stokes putting in match-winning performances. They next go up against Pakistan on Monday at Trent Bridge.
'Competitive, my a***'
The fact that only ten teams are playing this World Cup - the lowest since 1992 - has divided opinion like few things have in the cricket world in recent times. Now, with Pakistan rolling over for 105 against West Indies, Harry Balbirnie, Ireland cricketer Andy's brother, has hit out at the ICC, referencing the 135 the batsman made against West Indies in an ODI last month to make a not-too-polite point.
Top-order thief nabs Virat Kohli's gift to Rashid Khan
Apart from his world-class legspin, Rashid Khan also brings to Afghanistan a more-than-useful ability to his sixes down the order. In 44 ODI innings, he's cleared the ropes 24 times.
Rashid's two most recent sixes, however, weren't even meant to go that far. They came against Ireland's Kevin O'Brien in Belfast, in the course of a 9-ball 16 in a losing cause. Both times, according to the man himself, Rashid was only trying to hit the ball for four.
"When I was batting with that bat against Ireland … I wanted to hit a boundary (four) and it went for six," Rashid told "I was like, 'What happened? That went for six?'
"I was trying to hit (another) one over mid-off for a boundary and it went for six. I was like, 'there is something in the bat'. I loved the bat.
"It was like every ball I hit went for six. There was something special in that bat."
It was a special bat, gifted to him by a special player, Virat Kohli.
"When you are (learning) the skills of batting, you need to have a good bat," Rashid said. "I got a few from (other) players. I got one from Virat, I got one from Davey [Warner], I got one from KL Rahul. Those are special bats. That will help me to make some more runs in the World Cup."
Sadly, Rashid might not be able to put the magic Kohli bat to use at the World Cup. After his innings against Ireland, a prominent member of the Afghanistan batting line-up decided to make the bat his own.
"As soon as I came to pavilion, our previous captain Asghar Afghan, he was like, 'give me that bat', and I was like, 'oh no'. I was unable to reject him because I was unable to say no to him. So I said, 'okay, it's up to you'.
"He'd already taken it out from my bag and put it in his own bag. That was a special bat, from a special player as well.
"He took that bat and I hope he doesn't do well with that and gives it back."
How to get the match ball to the captains
Well, very unlikely they let so many people paw a ball the game is actually going to be played with, but it was fun all right … across in Cardiff, where 542 fielders got a ball to travel 8851 metres before depositing it in Kane Williamson's - and Dimuth Karunaratne's - hands.
Clive Lloyd wants to see how West Indies go batting first
Calling the West Indies performance against Pakistan in their opening World Cup game "clinical", Clive Lloyd, who led the team to glory in 1975 and 1979, said that the boys from the Caribbean "now have to keep things going and should be looking now to try and qualify (for the semi-finals).
"I'm sure they will upset a few of the big boys if they play like that. This game has proven that we have some firepower and that means we can match anybody in this competition," Lloyd wrote in a column for the ICC. "We have to try and test out our batting now, that's the real test going forward. We have to see how they do when they have to bat first and try and post a good total.
"I want to see how we get on if we have to defend a total, but it's shaping up really well at the moment and they couldn't have asked for a better start to the tournament."
Oshane Thomas' performance with the ball - 4 for 27 - was particularly pleasing for Lloyd, who said of the 22-year-old paceman: "Oshane Thomas got four wickets and he was quite aggressive. I think the pressure he brought to bear paid off and he looked very good even though he didn't have the new ball."

May 31

Pakistan were 'backing away' when Russell was bowling - Oshane Thomas
Oshane Thomas believes West Indies have the most hostile fast bowling attack in the World Cup, adding Pakistan were "backing away" from the venomous short balls delivered by Andre Russell in a searing three-over spell that netted figures of 2 for 4.
"When Russell was bowling to them they were backing away," Thomas said. "They didn't like it. I saw Russell was bowling so aggressive so he bumped me to come out and express myself. We'll take that into the games to come."
It was an impressive World Cup debut for Thomas. The West Indies quick also delivered some searing bouncers and claimed four wickets in his side's seven-wicket demolition of Pakistan. But he indicated there may be a different plan for Australia's batsmen who are more accustomed to pace and bounce.
"It depends on the battle on the day," he said. "If we are bowling short balls on the day and not picking up wickets then we'll have to try something else."
While Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc are both capable of bowling at above 90 miles per hour, Thomas believes the West Indies have the most hostile attack of all the teams competing in the tournament.
"I would say yes. Shannon [Gabriel] is still on the bench, a 90 miles per hour bowler; we didn't play Kemar Roach [against Pakistan]."
Hetmyer would love 'idol' Gayle to continue
Shimron Hetmyer believes Chris Gayle is in the form of his life and could continue his international career beyond the World Cup.
Hetmyer, who is playing in his first World Cup, lauded Gayle as one his idols and is keen to learn as much from him as he can. Gayle hammered 424 runs in four innings in the one-day series against England earlier this year.
"I've learned so much just being around Chris," he said. "I watched him when I was young, playing on TV and he was one of my idols and he's still my idol right now. I just want to learn as much as possible from him as he comes to the end of his career, he's one of the greatest cricketers to play for the West Indies.
"It's sad to see him go, he will be dearly missed. He is someone you can always lean on in different situations and pick his brain. I think he is probably in the best form of his life, coming round to the end of his career. We are wonder why he is actually retiring but it's down to how he feels. I'd love him to continue, it would be fantastic for world cricket."

May 30

Latham confident of taking the gloves
New Zealand wicketkeeper Tom Latham is expecting to be fit for Saturday's clash with Sri Lanka after a pain-free training session on Thursday.
Latham suffered a cracked and displaced left middle finger in a practice match against Australia in Brisbane on May 10 prior to the New Zealand team arriving the UK.
Tom Blundell kept in both of New Zealand's warm-up games, including making 106 off 89 balls against West Indies. But Latham looks likely to take the gloves in first match of the World Cup in Cardiff after getting through training unscathed.
"We still have to wait till tomorrow to see how it pulls up and have a hit against our bowlers," Latham said. "The ball was going into the gloves nicely and I didn't manage to take one on the finger. Things are feeling really well. We're taking it step by step and hopefully the fracture has healed by now and it's more a maintenance thing. We've got all the protection around it and hopefully, fingers crossed, we cannot take a ball on there."
New Zealand coach Gary Stead confirmed Latham would be New Zealand's wicketkeeper if he was passed fit despite Blundell's good lead up form.
KP and Kallis back West Indies for semi-finals
Who are your World Cup semifinalists? Most people have England, India and Australia in the mix. Kevin Pietersen does too, but the identity of his fourth semifinalist might be a surprise: West Indies.
KP's got his reasoning down pat though. "Normally Pakistan are the unpredictable team, but this West Indies team is so unpredictable. The way they beat New Zealand was some, some cricket. They've picked Andre Russell, he's in form.
"Gayle is solidifying the top order, and they have some great youngsters. I just like this West Indies outfit. Will they win? Probably not, but that's my top four.
"India and England are probably the favourites, the dark horses are Australia and the unpredictables are West Indies."
West Indies have, in fact, gathered some heavyweight backing to match their heavyweight hitting. Here's Jacques Kallis: "They are definitely going to have a say. Andre Russell has taken his game to a new level - he is the all-rounder I would keep an eye on in this World Cup."
Kallis, of course, kept a close eye on Russell in the months leading up to the World Cup as the Kolkata Knight Riders coach, so it's no mystery he's picking him as a player to watch. The only mystery that remains is why Kallis and co kept batting Russell so low, but we're not venturing there till IPL 2020 rolls around.

May 29

Trent Boult returned with 4 for 50 in 9.2 overs against West Indies in a warm-up fixture on Tuesday, and New Zealand still ended up facing a target of 422. They were bowled out for 330 in the chase.
It's one of the fears - or expectations - at the upcoming World Cup, where people are talking about a team (West Indies and England seem the top picks ) even going on to score 500 in an innings. It can't be easy being a bowler in these circumstances as New Zealand saw in Bristol, being clubbed for 41 fours and 18 sixes.
"The way T20 cricket goes, it can come down to six or 12 runs at the end of it, and ODI cricket is becoming an extended version of T20 cricket in my opinion," Boult said on the ICC website. "If you can make those big 17- or 18-run overs into 12-run overs, that can make a big difference in the end. If we're clear on that, we can go a fair way in this tournament."
Carlos Brathwaite wants West Indies to 'show up and show off'
Carlos Brathwaite, hero of West Indies' 2016 World T20 final win, feels the 2019 World Cup represents one of his team's better chances to repeat the performances of 1975 and 1979.
"If we can win, we can be looked upon in the way that the team of '75 and '79 was looked upon, as heroes of sorts," he was quoted as saying by the ICC. "Once we do the things we're supposed to do, often we should go far enough in the tournament.
"It's one of our better chances in the last 40 years or so to win the World Cup, so it's time for us to show up and show off. On our day, in semi-finals and finals we have some guys who can win it on their own."
One of those guys is Chris Gayle, the iconic figure at the top of the batting order playing his last World Cup, and one of the others is young Shai Hope, who has been scoring big runs of late.
"Obviously, Chris has done that in the Test and ODI format, and then he is 'Universe Boss' in T20s as well," Brathwaite said. "The young guys like Shai Hope are aspiring to reach the heights that Chris has reached."
'Quite relieved seeing Mustafiz bowl at his old pace' - Mashrafe
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has picked Mustafizur Rahman's opening spell as one of the most heartening takeaways from the team's 95-run defeat to India in the warm-up fixture in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Mustafizur has not had a consistent run since the Asia Cup last September when he took 10 wickets in Bangaldesh's runners-up finish. He picked up a four-wicket haul against West Indies, during the tri-series earlier this month, but has otherwise been expensive with both the new and old ball of late.
"I am quite relieved seeing Mustafiz bowl at his old pace," Mashrafe said about the the 23-year-old left-armer, who took 1 for 19 from his first five overs, bowling more accurately than he has done since the New Zealand ODI series in February. "He bowled well too, and picked up his pace around 140kph at times. If he can bowl like he usually does, our bowling becomes a very different unit. I also got a lot out of Rubel [Hossain] and [Mohammad] Saifuddin. We expected to do better with the new ball after not having done well in Ireland."
Bangladesh used their last opportunity before the tournament proper to test several things, including pushing bowlers out of their comfort zones. India piled up 359 for 7 in 50 overs as Mashrafe rotated nine bowlers in different segments of the innings. He underscored that despite being at the receiving end of such big hitting, Bangladesh remained confident about their spinners.
"Shakib [Al Hasan] had an off day but he has the experience to come back in a great way," Mashrafe said. "I think he will do something big in this World Cup. [Medidy Hasan] Miraz, too, has been bowling well recently. In this game, we tried to give all our spinners difficult situations to bowl at, so that in the tournament proper they become mentally equipped to deal with a storm of big hitting."
Mashrafe, however, added that set batsmen at the crease would be expected to convert their starts into hundreds, and that they cannot afford to lose wickets in quick succession if they are to chase big totals.
"Mushfiq[ur Rahim] remains consistent, which is important," Mashrafe said. "Liton [Das] is doing his job. It would have been better had they both scored centuries. We would have reached 300 had [Mahmudullah] Riyad been there for a little bit longer. I think playing India's high-quality attack in the practice match is going to help us [in the tournament proper]. But we can't lose wickets in pairs. It makes chasing 350-plus very difficult. Liton and Mushfiq got out just when they were becoming aggressive, while Shakib and [Mohammad] Mithun got out first ball, although to good deliveries."
Rashid Khan can leave you 'shaking your head' - Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell has admitted that Rashid Khan is a bowler who can leave a batsman "shaking your head" with his variations as he prepares to potentially face the legspinner in Australia's opening World Cup match against Afghanistan.
Although Maxwell said he can pick Rashid "at times" and doesn't usually feel like he'll get out to him - in six T20 matches the pair of faced in each other, Rashid has never removed Maxwell - he conceded that scoring against him is mighty tough work but hopes that experience of facing him in the Big Bash will help.
"He's very difficult," Maxwell said. "He is probably one of the more difficult ones I've played against. He and Narine are probably the two you go through stages where you think you are going to hold them and then they bowl a ball that beats you. And you sit there shaking your head. I think for me I feel like I don't think I'm going to get out to him but I don't feel like I'm going to score much off him.
"It's about targeting other blokes and making sure I'm putting pressure on him to change his lengths and I felt like I did that against him during the Big Bash at different times. I will be drawing on that experience a little bit. We've got a bit of footage to watch but it's a different kettle of fish when you're actually facing him."
Maxwell said it was a balancing act between trying to be aggressive against Rashid - to force Afghanistan into a change of tactics - and the risk of giving him wickets.
"I probably try and pick my spinners I go hard against," he said. "Whether it's history against them or I have confidence against them, or I've got a good game plan against certain players. But I think for him because he is such a dangerous player for them - they rely and him and Nabi a lot to stop and get wickets just after the Powerplay - I think just putting pressure on them to bring back the medium pace and faster bowlers might be the way we go, I'm not really sure. But once we have that batting meeting during the week guys will come out with certain plans. Guys might target him, I don't know."

May 28

Shai Hope backs West Indies in race to 500
One of the big questions ahead of the World Cup is whether it will be the moment the 500-mark is breached in ODIs. It is certainly in range with England holding the current record of 481 for 6 against Australia last year and they are a team fancied to push it further, but Shai Hope is backing West Indies to be the team break the magical mark.
There is certainly no lack of power in West Indies' line-up as they reminded everyone by piling up 421 against New Zealand in Bristol. Hope's contribution was a skillful 101 off 86 balls with the early onslaught provided by Chris Gayle (36 off 22) and later Andre Russell (54 off 25 balls). The only players to strike below 100 were Evin Lewis - who still managed 50 off 54 balls - and No. 11 Kemar Roach.
"It is definitely a goal we can try to achieve at some point," Hope said. "Definitely it would be great to be the first team to cross that 500 mark and I am sure we have the batting firepower to do it."
One thing in West Indies' favour in the quest for 500 is that two of their matches are at Trent Bridge - the venue where England flayed the record and its predecessor, 444 for 3 against Pakistan in 2016.
While the top order is packed with strokemakers - with Hope providing a classy and in-from anchor at No. 3 - it is Russell who could be the trump card when it comes to massive totals.
"He is just incredible - a freak of nature really," Hope said. "I don't really know what to say about Russ, he just hits it and once he hits it, it goes for six. He is a pleasure to be on the same team as him, I can tell you that. If you are on the field you are not sure what you are going to bowl at him. It is just nice to enjoy from the inside."
We have that belief we didn't have a few years ago - Adil Rashid
The pressure keeps mounting on the favourites and hosts England, but legspinner Adil Rashid believes that the side is well-equipped to deal with it. Rashid also felt that this level of confidence among group was something the side did not have a few years ago.
England didn't make the knockouts in the 2015 World Cup, but following a revamp in their batting approach, they climbed to No. 1. They've won 16 of the 23 ODI series they've played since the last World Cup, and Rashid took pride in their recent success.
"It's an exciting feeling being in this team as you have world-class players all around you and the opposition might get 370, but there's a belief in the dressing room we can chase it down," Rashid told ICC. "There is no hesitation or someone going, 'I don't know about this', we all have that belief and confidence we can do it. If the openers don't [don't do the job], number three, four, five six will instead. "It's the same all the way down the order, we have that belief that a few years ago we may not have had. Now we've got that regardless or the score, 400 or whatever."
Rashid 's legspin has been central to England's rise, but he also explained the value of the other bowlers in the side.
"I'll try my best and if I don't take the wickets, a seamer will do the job, we've got another spinner in Moeen Ali who can take the wickets, we've got Tom Curran or Jofra Archer," he said. "It's obviously exciting, but I'll still just focus on bowling to my strengths. I will continue to go through my processes, I can't let that get to me and think about that. I've got to think about working hard, getting my variations in and enjoying the game."

Malinga teaches Stoinis his bag of tricks

It is only a few days until teams will be going hammer and tongs against each other to win the World Cup, but that doesn't mean there isn't time for passing on advice between opposition players.
After Australia had wrapped up a comfortable win against Sri Lanka in Southampton, Marcus Stoinis spent time on the outfield with Lasith Malinga picking his brains about how to bowl the slower ball that has caused so many batsmen problems over the years - most recently to clinch the IPL final in the final-ball thriller.
Even though they will face each other during the tournament - the two teams play at The Oval on June 15 - Malinga was happy to hand down plenty of advice.
"Stoinis asked me something about how I bowl the slower ball…variation is very important in the short format game," Malinga said. "I want to give all the tips because I want to help whoever wants to know. I'll give the tricks about how to bowl the slower ball and which situations to use them. I'm really happy to work with him."
So will we see Stoinis bowling like Malinga over the next few weeks? "Not round-arm, but I expect him to bowl the dipping slower ball," Malinga said.
The Maxwell factor
Much before '3D' became a buzzword in cricket, Glenn Maxwell had embodied the phrase for several seasons. And for the 2019 World Cup, Maxwell's multi-utility skills could well be the key factor to getting Australia a sixth World Cup trophy. That's if vice-captain Pat Cummins' words are anything to to by.
"I think the way he has turned games around for us in the last couple of months has been impressive with the bat, and then he is also an option to bowl ten overs," Cummins said.
In the lead-up to the tournament, Maxwell smashed three half-centuries in Australia's 5-0 series win in the UAE. He then plied his trade on the county circuit, playing seven List A games. He returns with the bat were modest - a top score of 35 - but he struck regularly with the ball, taking eight wickets in all and going wicketless in a match only once.
In Australia's final warm-up match, against Sri Lanka, Maxwell hit a run-a-ball 36 and took 1 for 14 in five overs - further evidence of good all-round form. Throw in his athletic prowess on the field and he is the complete package.
"He is also able to get run-outs and take catches," Cummins said. "You get all three facets out of him and he is always there in tough situations. He is probably our sixth bowler but on a good day he can get through all ten. He's in good form."

May 27

Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav return to training
Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav were both back at the nets ahead of India's second warm-up fixture against Bangladesh in Cardiff on Tuesday. Vijay hurt his wrist in India's first training session upon landing in England and underwent scans that cleared him of a fracture. Jadhav, meanwhile, is recuperating from a shoulder injury that forced him out of the last stages of the IPL. This was Jadhav's first proper hit at the nets in England this summer, while Vijay too seemed quite comfortable facing up to the bowlers. Both players did not take part in India's first warm-up fixture against New Zealand at The Oval.
Latham making encouraging progress
Tom Latham has returned to training following the fractured finger he picked up during the warm-up series against Australia in Brisbane earlier this month. However, it remains uncertain whether he will be able to take the gloves for New Zealand's opening against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Saturday.
Tom Blundell, who is uncapped in ODIs, kept wicket in the warm-up match against India and is set to continue in the role against West Indies.
"It's good to see him hitting and catching again," Blundell said of Latham. "It's going to be good for our team and hopefully he can get back as soon as possible."
Blundell earned a late call into New Zealand's World Cup plans after being preferred to Tim Seifert in the 15-man squad. He made 77 in the first match against the Australians at Allan Border Field.
Sri Lanka's ocean-plastic colours
Sri Lanka's World Cup kit is made from recycled ocean-waste plastic materials. According to Lasith Malinga, the eco-friendly kit feels very similar to those made of other materials and is both comfortable and allows the skin to 'breathe'. The jerseys, which have a satin-like feel, have a secondary purpose; to promote awareness of ocean pollution.
"With all the beaches in Sri Lanka, and the plastic around the sea, people have realised they can clean the beach and make the shirts for us in this World Cup," said Malinga. "It's a good thing for Sri Lanka, and we are very happy to support them."
Sabbir wants to be Bangladesh's enforcer
In a World Cup that is expected to be high-scoring, Bangladesh will look to the senior trio of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim to provide the steel to their innings, but the onus of quick scoring at the death will fall on Sabbir Rahman and it's a role he is prepared for.
"My role is to play No. 6, 7 or 8," he was quoted as saying by the ICC website. "I like to score quickly and I will try to make sure we can put runs on the board as a team in the later overs. I think I want to bring some momentum to our innings.
"We expect Tamim to bat for 40 overs and if there's a good wicket, I can make it a bigger score."
Bangladesh, who have hit only six scores of over 300 since the last World Cup, will be eyeing stronger finishes. They will also be looking to improve their strike rate in the last ten overs - among the ten teams in the current edition, only Sri Lanka have a poorer run rate in the last ten overs (6.63), compared to Bangladesh's 6.66.
With their first warm-up against Pakistan washed out, Bangladesh have only one practice match - against India on Tuesday - before they open their campaign against South Africa on June 2 in London.
Australia 'have turned a corner' - Allan Border
For a change, Australia are not the runaway favourites at the World Cup, but Allan Border, who led them to the first of their five titles back in 1987, feels "things have turned around for our team after some really good performances in India and against Pakistan in the UAE; I just think they've turned a corner".
Writing on the ICC website, Border said that the return of Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc have made a big difference to the team, to go with the winning run in India and the UAE.
"The key will be having a mix between pace and spin, but legspinners are going to play a big role in this World Cup. Good spinners are going to be like gold dust, and how you bowl is going to win or lose you games," Border wrote, while picking Adam Zampa as a potential game changer.
That said, like many others, Border picked England as the most formidable outfit out there as "they have changed the game". "There's no score that they couldn't get or target they couldn't achieve. The rest of us are playing catch-up to a certain degree," Border said, adding that up to six of the ten teams in the fray are capable of winning the tournament.

May 26

Smith boos 'add to the game' - Carey
Steven Smith brushed off the boos he received during the warm-up match against England as "water off a duck's back" and team-mate Alex Carey said the atmosphere "adds to the game".
Australia were well aware of the reception they were likely to get in Southampton so the reaction of the crowd came as little surprise with Smith and Warner facing England for the first time since their ball-tampering bans. Smith made a statement, however, with 116 off 102 balls as Australia secured a 12-run win.
"We knew it was going to happen, it's one way to answer it - and Davey got 40-odd as well," Carey said. "I think it's a great atmosphere and adds to the game. The guys handled it really well."
Carey batted alongside Smith and dominated a sixth-wicket stand of 42 which gave Australia late impetus after the innings had threatened to stall. Carey, not one of Australia's big hitters, struck 30 off 14 deliveries with some excellent placement to show it is not always about how far you can strike the ball that matters.
"Something I've been working on is that if I'm not clearing the pickets with the biggest hits then I'm finding the gaps, it's something I'll build on. It was nice to go out there with Steve and put on a little partnership at the end. He's fantastic to bat with."
'The dream for me started that day' - Karunaratne on SL's 1996 World Cup win
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne was only eight years old, and Angelo Mathews was nine when Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996.
For Karunaratne, Sri Lanka's victory was an inspiration for him to play cricket. "I remember the game and watching with all our family and friends," Karunaratne told the ICC. "I recall we had a very, very small television, so I had a pocket radio with me so I could listen to all the commentary and not miss anything.
"It was a very special time for Sri Lanka as a country, I just remember how excited all my friends were and how it inspired me to play cricket. The dream for me started that day.
"Those players are still an inspiration to everyone in Sri Lanka and the lesson we take now is how they played as a team and worked for each other."
Mathews though doesn't remember the details of Sri Lanka's winning campaign but said that the success changed the cricketing scene in the island nation.
"We are very grateful to that team and we are who we are today because of them," he said. "I was a bit too young to remember the match in too much detail, I just remember how proud everyone was, who would have thought Sri Lanka could become world champions.
"That team made such an impact to the sport in our country. It changed the entire set-up overnight, every kid wanted to be a cricketer. People were always talking about cricket after that."
Mathews, who warmed up with 64 against South Africa on Friday, said the current tournament format posed a different challenge though.
"We know it's going to be challenging but we're looking forward to it. The new format where you play everyone is great but it means you can't get lucky. To win this World Cup you need to beat all the best and be consistent - that is how it should be."
England players turn out to support Ruth Strauss Foundation fun run
England put their World Cup preparation - and its last-minute concerns - aside on Sunday as the entire squad turned out for the Ruth Strauss Foundation Family Mile in central London.
Wearing bright red t-shirts emblazoned with the foundation's logo, the England players were photographed at the event behind a banner which read "Run With Ruth" as part of the 2019 Vitality Westminster Mile. Participants could run, jog or walk from The Mall to Buckingham Palace and several players - including skipper Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow - wore race numbers, taking part in the event alongside former England captain Andrew Strauss.
England head of team communications Danny Reuben posted the photos on Twitter, saying: "Fantastic turnout for the @RuthStraussFdn at the #WestminsterMile - all the squad in attendance." Several players, including Morgan, Stokes and Chris Woakes, publicised the event on their own Twitter accounts and called for donations.
Ruth Strauss, Andrew's wife, died in December aged 46 after battling a rare form of lung cancer. The foundation aims to raise awareness and funds for research into the disease and support services for sufferers and their families. Strauss said: "Ruth loved families spending time together and it will be wonderful to see so many families come together on Sunday May 26 to celebrate her life."
The team's participation came a day after their 12-run loss to Australia in a World Cup warm-up match in Southampton, during which fast bowlers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer and spin-bowling allrounder Liam Dawson were injured. Wood's problem was of most concern as he awaited the results of scans on his left foot. Morgan missed the match with a finger fracture and Root was a late inclusion as a substitute while mourning the death of a grandparent.
Gayle 'an inspiration' as Taylor looks towards 2023
Ross Taylor comes into the World Cup at his absolute peak as an ODI batsman. Since the start of 2017, he averages 70.96 in the format, and only Virat Kohli has done better among batsmen with a minimum of 1000 runs in this period.
For how long can Taylor keep going, though? The New Zealand batsman is 35 now, and he admits 2019 could be his last World Cup, but he isn't ruling out another one four years down the line. He counts Chris Gayle, who's as old now as Taylor will be in 2023, as an inspiration.
"My approach to the World Cup is not necessarily a mindset of going out there just to enjoy it," Taylor told ICC. "You always put a lot of pressure on yourself in big tournaments - pressure comes with it whether you think about it or not, so it's about managing those moments.
"I'm 35 but you never really know what's to come. Chris Gayle is probably an inspiration - he's 39 in this World Cup and I'm 39 at the next, so it's not a simple matter. You never know, this will probably be my last World Cup but if these hamstrings and calves hold together then maybe I can be back in a few years."
Taylor had a relatively quiet time at the 2015 World Cup, scoring 221 runs at an average of 31.57, even as his team made the final for the first time. New Zealand played all but one of their matches - the final - at home four years ago; now Taylor feels it will be a more difficult task to get that far or better that performance.
"I think you have to pace yourself in a tournament like this, it's a long time and the way our schedule is, there are a lot of games at the start and a bit of a break in the middle," Taylor said. "The way you rest and train between games is going to be very important.
"When it comes to a warm-up you just treat it as that and then get out of the game what you want to get out of it. For us, we haven't played as a team for two or three months, so it was about going out there and testing our skills out against the best.
"It's going to be a lot tougher, making the final four years ago we played a lot of games at home and we knew our conditions very well. If you get off to a good start and get onto a roll, you can get into those semi-finals and suddenly you're only two wins away from winning it."
The other side of Mashrafe
In the five months as a member of parliament from his native Narail, Mashrafe Mortaza has already created a stir with his straightforward approach. His surprise visit to a local hospital led him to discover that the doctors weren't present, and the message from Mashrafe was clear: wrongdoing won't be tolerated. He also directed Narail's local administrator to buy paddy directly from the farmers after many of them in other parts of the country protested not getting a fair price for their produce. This attitude has struck a chord with the local people.
Now, however, Mashrafe's focus is entirely on the World Cup. "I am just concentrating on cricket," he told ESPNcricinfo. "My involvement in politics isn't at that level yet. I don't have to give it a lot of time, apart from particular issues. I am still very comfortable to recognise myself as a cricketer. Politics is not full-time at the moment."
Bangladesh play their first game of the World Cup against South Africa at the Oval on June 2.
"The younger players, some of whom have played in the previous World Cup, are giving us confidence," Mashrafe said. "If all of them continue in their good form, we can expect to have a good match [against South Africa]. The likes of Shakib, Tamim, Mahmudullah, Mushfiq and Mustafiz have delivered under pressure."
'If we start getting on a roll, no one will relish facing us' - Kemar Roach
West Indies might not be on many people's list of favourites for the World Cup 2019, but their fast bowler Kemar Roach is least bothered about that. In fact, he feels the side performs better when the focus is not on them.
"We love being underdogs, going under the radar and surprising people, that is our game plan," Roach told the ICC. "We like not having to deal with the hype. The format is ideal, whoever wins this World Cup won't have got lucky - they'll have had to play everyone. If we start getting on a roll, no one will relish facing us."
Prior to the 2019 edition, England have hosted the World Cup four times, and on three of those occasions, West Indies made it to the finals. They won the first two editions, in 1975 and 1979, and were the runner-ups in the next in 1983. While the current West Indies team may not be of the same pedigree, Roach said they were up for the challenge to make history of their own.
"It's a great feeling to follow those guys that won here all those years ago," Roach said. "We know the history we have in this tournament when England host it and that's inspiring to us all. What those guys did means we still get amazing support in this country, we know the fans here love the West Indies and we want to put on that show they expect.
"However, we also know we have to make our own history, that's our challenge and the guys are ready for it."
'Versatility makes me an asset' - Brathwaite
You 'remember the name', of course you do. And the four consecutive sixes that won West Indies the T20 World Cup. Now Carlos Brathwaite is set to play his first ODI World Cup, and the allrounder warmed up by hitting 60 in a game against Australia. Brathwaite is confident his versatility will help West Indies make a deep run in the tournament.
"When chosen, my skill-set suits bowling very tight in the middle, offering some support at the death and then with the bat picking up the slack," Brathwaite said on Saturday. "If I need to come in the last three or four overs to give us a boost to the total then fine… or the odd game where I can come in and play a longer knock, so I think it's about working on all facets of my game so my versatility makes me an asset that can be chosen at any point during the tournament.
"It's another challenge and whatever situation presents itself is for me to use that versatility again and to adapt to it. We may need another knock like against Australia or we may need a knock where they only have three overs and I'm supporting one of the batters that is in, so it's another good challenge for the team and puts us one step closer to the ultimate goal which is winning the tournament."

May 25

Pretty crazy to see 350 being chased down - Boult
Trent Boult has played only one World Cup, but he left a deep impression. Boult took 22 wickets in 2015, the joint highest alongside Mitchell Starc, as New Zealand marched to their first ever final.
However, Boult knows that in 2019, bowlers are likely to have a tougher time than they did in 2015, given the prodigious scoring seen in England in recent times. "With the ball we want to be as aggressive as we can. We know that taking wickets can stump that run rate," Boult said ahead of new Zealand's first warm-up match, against India. "Without giving away our gameplan, I think it's obvious that all teams are trying to take early wickets and put the pressure on the batting team. To see these 300-350, 400 even being touched, and then being chased down is pretty crazy in my opinion."
New Zealand's pace attack has Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, James Neesham and Tim Southee besides Boult, and he acknowledged that with very little help from the conditions, finding new ways to take wickets would be a challenge.
"Not just for me, but the attack we possess, we're all kind of new-ball bowlers," Boult said. "We're swing bowlers. If the conditions suit, then obviously we've got the skills to put the opposition to the test there, but the balls haven't really been swinging so we're not really coming here and expecting it to be around like it did four years ago. The test of the bowling group is that there's other ways to find wickets and I think that's going to be the challenge over the next couple of weeks - to try and find wickets when the pitches are flat. It's not swinging and they're kind of batsmen-friendly conditions, but we're looking forward to the challenge."

May 24

The 'still relevant' Dinesh Karthik
'Love him or hate him, you can't ignore him.'
That's not quite what Dinesh Karthik said, but he pointed if people were still talking about him - either for or against - he had managed to stay 'relevant'.
Despite being overlooked for India's final ODI series - against Australia at home - before the World Cup, Karthik pipped Rishabh Pant to the back-up wicketkeeper spot for the global tournament. It divided opinion, but Karthik felt he was satisfied as long as he remained in the conversation.
"I wouldn't still be playing if it weren't for the blessings of my friends and family," Karthik told PTI before leaving for England. "Good or bad, if people still talk about you it means that you have managed to stay relevant. It is extremely satisfying that I have managed to stay relevant all these years and still trying hard to be part of the team."
Karthik, however, also admitted that he was surprised at his exclusion from India's ODI squad for the Australia series, but felt that his successes over a long period contributed to his selection.
"I was a bit shocked (on missing out), but I had faith that you know if it is meant to be, it is meant to be," Karthik said. "In the end, I was picked for my performances over the last two years.
"I have batted in various positions (over the last 24 months) and I have had decent success in those positions. But the key is not for me to look back at the last two years, the greatest tournament is going to happen and I now have the opportunity to play there."
'Asghar Afghan is still my captain'
Asghar Afghan's removal as Afghanistan's ODI captain less than two months before the World Cup had garnered criticism from some of the team's senior players, but his replacement Gulbadin Naib quelled any murmurs of disharmony within the team, saying he still considered Asghar as his captain.
"Asghar Afghan is still my captain," Naib told ICC. "We played our last few games against Ireland and Scotland, and he helped me a lot. He guided me. He's not just another player for me, he's still my captain right now.
"I want support from him. Not just him, but [Mohammad] Nabi, Rashid [Khan] and all the guys who have a lot of experience. All of us have one goal: we want to play for Afghanistan and play as a team, whoever the captain is."
Afghanistan have warm-up games scheduled against Pakistan and England before they open their campaign on June 1 against Australia.