Pleasure and satisfaction increase in direct proportion to their rarity. No matter how good something is, appreciation of it will decline if we have it every day.
It’s the reason people are bored with the Ashes. Ever since the ECB and Cricket Australia decided to hold them twice a year, nobody is really bothered any more. The same happened with ODI cricket a few years ago. Administrators thought supporters wouldn’t realise that they were being staged in huge numbers and more regularly than ever before, but the arrival of the seven-match series was a bit of a give-away.
Fortunately the World Cup only comes along every four years so it’s virtually impossible not to get excited about it. Perhaps when the ICC decide to stage it every two years it will lose its sense of occasion. But, for now, the anticipation is already approaching simmering point. Never mind that it is, effectively, a knockout tournament for eight teams which begins in mid March. The first month is little more than an exhibition for the major teams while Bangladesh and Afghanistan will dream of giant-killing.
Another reason to celebrate is when the ICC makes a positive, authoritative decision in the best interests of the game. It does so rarely, not because it is staffed by fools or incompetents, but because the genuinely caring and qualified staff, led by David Richardson, are rarely allowed to make any decisions which actually matter.
The World Cup is an exception. It is the ICC’s tournament, not India’s, England’s or Australia’s. This year, the rules and regulations regarding the selection of the 15-man squads have been significantly relaxed to ensure that each of the 14 participating countries is able to field their strongest players.
Naming the squad more than a month before the first match is invariably tricky. In the past, if an injured player was selected in the 15-man and failed to recover in time, he could not be replaced. Fortunately, that rule has been changed which will allow South Africa to name Quinton de Kock tomorrow and Australia to include Michael Clarke, with neither choice being considered a ‘risk’.
“A player can be replaced provided a medical certificate is produced, either confirming that the player has failed to recover from an injury or has sustained an injury, and thus, will not be able to take further part in the tournament,” an ICC spokesman told Supercricket this week.
“This means, CA can include Michael and CSA can name Quinton and if either or both fail to recover in time or aggravate the injury during the event, then upon the submission of medical certificate(s), replacement(s) will be allowed.”
“In the past few Events, the ICC has ensured that the sides be allowed to select best 15 available players, be these from within or outside the provisional squads, and that it should always be 15 v 15 and not 14 v 15 or 13 v 15,” the spokesman said.
So, a spare wicket keeper will not have to be named. If de Kock does fail to recover, then Morne van Wyk can be added to the squad at any stage. He could also open the batting if required. The only last-minute surprise may involve a recall for Lonwabo Tsotsobe with the desperately unlucky Ryan McLaren, perhaps, the man to make way. Otherwise I suspect there will be few surprises when the squad is announced on Wednesday. Here’s what it may look like:
Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (captain), J-P Duminy, David Miller, Rilee Rossouw, Vernon Philander, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Aaron Phangiso, Kyle Abbott, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Standby Players: Morne van Wyk, Ryan McLaren, Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Farhaan Behardien.
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