The World Cup 2019 final is going to be on free to air television in the United Kingdom, but despite the vast audience that this potentially offers, it will face some stiff competition from sports watchers. The July 14 Sunday will not only see a new cricket world champion crowned when England take on New Zealand, it is also the date on which the Wimbledon men's final will take place - where at least one (and possibly two) among Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will compete. But that's not all - it also clashes with the British Grand Prix.
And that has not sat well with Lewis Hamilton, who is the reigning F1 champion and current championship leader. Hamilton might have expected a groundswell of support at his home Grand Prix, but will now have to contend with a home team vying for their first World Cup, as well as the Wimbledon final.
"I don't understand why the organizers put the race on the same day as all these other big events," Hamilton told Associated Press. "I hope in future they (don't). This is such a special weekend it needs the focus of the whole country. People will be switching between channels on Sunday not knowing what to watch.
"I come here to raise the flag and do the country proud," Hamilton said. "It's such a privilege to be here. The British Grand Prix is the most special of the year. The sheer magnitude of it, how many people come here. It's a special weekend, there's excitement, adrenaline. My whole family is coming this weekend so it's that one weekend where it's the most special because your closest support surround you. I've had some spectacular races here."
Williamson and Co eye big payday
Put yourself in the shoes of Tom Blundell. Despite having sat out the entire World Cup, you are one match away from landing yourself a USD 250,000 (NZ$ 375,000) payday.
Blundell, as with captain Kane Williamson and all the other 13 players in the New Zealand squad, would secure themselves USD 4 million (NZ$ 6 million) should they beat hosts England in the final at Lord's on Sunday. In the event of a defeat, the amount would be halved. New Zealand have already earned USD 200,000 (NZ$ 300,000) for winning five league matches, each victory fetching them USD 40,000 (NZ$ 60,000).
The New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills said that the winner's bounty would be split 16 ways. All 15 players will earn NZ$ 375,000 each and the other portion worth NZ$ 375,000 is to be divided among the support staff, in keeping with the provisions under the NZC central contract system.
"It is a significant payday if they go well. And they deserve it," Mills told New Zealand Herald. "The prize money for the event is a direct correlation to the amount of revenue that the event brings in."
Under the NZC central contracts, there is no provision, however, for performance bonuses from the board over the prize money the ICC allots for tournaments. The current annual NZC retainers are worth NZ$ 236,000 (USD 157,000 approx.) each. Williamson is the side's top earner, being entitled to an NZ$ 50,000 (USD 33,000 approx.) captain's bonus.
Bloodied Carey on his 'best catch'
Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey said his best catch of the World Cup was not off an outside edge, but clutching his helmet before it fell onto the stumps after it was dislodged from his head by a vicious Jofra Archer bouncer.
Carey was hit in the head by a brute of a ball from Archer when he was on 4 in the 8th over with Australia reeling at 19 for 3. The ball smashed into the grill of his helmet, which in turn split his chin open, and it toppled backwards off his head. He had the incredible presence of mind to catch the falling helmet before it fell onto the stumps, even as blood began pouring from the gaping wound on his chin.
"That's the best catch I've taken all World Cup," Carey joked. "Jofra's got a pretty good bumper and a few stitches is nothing to worry about."
Carey continued to bat after being patched up by the Australian Team doctor. He required so much tape to stem the blood flow he had his head swathed in bandages, sporting a similar look to that of Rick McCosker when he had his jaw broken by Bob Willis in the 1977 Centenary Test.
"I didn't really want to come in with three down that quick but it was good to grab the opportunity, Steve and I just tried to absorb the pressure and get something on the board," Carey said. "We wanted to bat first but credit to their quicks who really learned from playing us at Lord's and it just wasn't our day with the bat.
"We thought we'd get back in it with early wickets but Jason and Jonny soon got going and took any momentum away from us. If we went back 12 months not many people would have given us a chance to make the semi-finals and we've played some cricket to be proud of. There's still disappointment to get here and not make the final."
Edulji to Dhoni: 'Don't retire, mentor youngsters'
As India exited the World Cup after an 18-run loss to New Zealand in the semi-final, the focus quickly shifted to MS Dhoni and his immediate future. Virat Kohli, the India captain, emphatically said "no" when asked if Dhoni had conveyed any decision about his retirement, effectively putting a lid on the debate for the moment.
There's been speculation over Dhoni's future right through the World Cup. His manager - Arun Pandey, a former first-class cricketer himself - stirred the pot further when he said Dhoni's decision to use different bats during the tournament was his way of thanking all the bat manufacturers over the years.
Now, Diana Edulji, the former India women's captain and part of the three-member Committee of Administrators running the BCCI, has said that she wants Dhoni to stick around and mentor youngsters.
"That (retirement) is his personal decision," Edulji told PTI. "Only he can take that decision and it is his body which has to answer him. I still feel that he has a lot of cricket left in him. The youngsters in the team still need his mentorship."
India support staffers Farhart, Basu exit after semi-final defeat
India's loss to New Zealand in the World Cup 2019 semi-final might see the end of some illustrious careers (or not), but along with possible player and/or coaching exits, the Indian team will also lose some of their core backroom staff.
The contract of Patrick Farhart, the physiotherapist of the team, has ended with the end of India's campaign at the World Cup. He joined the set up in July 2015, and has been a familiar face since that time, rushing out to tend to players on the field.
Whilst my last day with the team did not turn out as I wanted it to, I would like to thank @BCCI for the opportunity to work with the team for the last 4 years. My best wishes to all of the players and support staff for the future #TeamIndia— Patrick Farhart (@patrickfarhart) July 10, 2019
The other support staff member who has chosen not to renew his contract is Shankar Basu, the fitness and conditions coach. Basu was instrumental in Virat Kohli turning his lifestyle around and becoming among the fittest athletes in the world, having first come into contact with the India captain during a stint with his IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Indian Express quoted a BCCI official as saying that both Farhart and Basu were offered fresh contracts but chose to move on. "Basu has informed the team management of not continuing as a trainer as he needs a break. So has Patrick. The Indian team will look out for their replacements after the World Cup and West Indies series," the official said.
Wade approved as Khawaja's replacement
Matthew Wade has been confirmed as Usman Khawaja's replacement in Australia's World Cup 2019 squad, with the ICC's event technical committee approving the change.
Wade had joined the Australia squad from the A squad he had been a part of earlier, once Khawaja was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring strain, and was awaiting the go ahead from the technical committee to be named the replacement. Cricket Australia sent the relevant paperwork to the ICC on Wednesday morning, and got the nod for Wade within hours.
Whether Wade will get to feature in the XI remains to be seen. Coach Justin Langer has already confirmed that Peter Handscomb - who replaced the injured Shaun Marsh - will be a starter, and Marcus Stoinis is fit, over whom there was an injury cloud. "He did a good job today and he's fit to go," Langer said of Stoinis, adding that Handsomb deserved his chance. "I'll tell you the truth. Peter Handscomb will definitely play, 100%. He deserves it. He was stiff not to be on this tour, he was so unlucky not to be in the initial squad after what he'd done to get us to that point. He's in good form, he played well for Australia A, gives us that nice balance in the middle order. He's got good temperament, he plays spin well, he's on top of his game, so Pete will definitely play."
Australia go barefoot to prepare for Edgbaston
The Australians took the notion of getting a feel for a ground to a new level at Edgbaston on Monday when the entire squad followed Justin Langer's lead in walking barefoot around the outfield.
It is a method that Langer has used before - including on the tours of India and UAE earlier this year - and the unconventional preparation routine also involved the whole tour party sitting around in a circle telling stories of what the World Cup means to them.
"It was just a moment to get a feel for the ground, literally, it's something the coach has done with us before in other venues as well, it's just a bit of grounding," Peter Handscomb explained. "You do that lap and you can see all the different views, potentially where you might be fielding, gives you an opportunity to take it all in before it starts on Thursday.
"Some really good stories, was just an open and honest conversation and it's great to see that some of guys poured their hearts out about what it meant for them and what I meant growing up watching the World Cup. I liked Mitch Marsh's about 1999 and his dad coaching, having a photo at Lord's with the trophy and if he's here he wants to have a photo on the balcony at Lord's."
Justin Langer embracing his inner Brad Fittler. Shoes off for the Aussies boys as they step onto Edgbaston for first time of this World Cup. Been in this circle for around half hour. #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/TMniodlhUe— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) July 8, 2019
Head-to-head would be better tiebreaker - Arthur
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has bemoaned the use of net run-rate to separate sides level on points in the World Cup saying head-to-head would have been a fairer system.
Pakistan put together a surge in the second half of the tournament to keep themselves in contention, but were left with an impossible scenario in the final group match against Bangladesh, where they needed to win by more than 300 runs overhaul New Zealand's net run-rate, following their trouncing by West Indies in their opening game.
However, New Zealand were one of the sides Pakistan beat as their form improved - convincingly by six wickets at Edgbaston - and Arthur believes that when two teams are level on points the head-to-head result would be a better tie-breaker.
"I would have liked the ICC to consider head to head because tonight we would be in the semi-final," he said after the hollow victory against Bangladesh. "It is disappointing, and it just goes back to our first game [a heavy defeat] against the West Indies.
"And we had an opportunity to beat Australia, and we didn't take that. Those are the two nightmares I'm going to have. What the system has done to us is that after one very poor game, you really battle to recover again.
"So it's a very disappointed dressing room, no congratulations going on because we haven't qualified. Congratulations to the four who have, I think they've played the best cricket so far and may the best team win. But it is nice for us to sit here and know we've beaten two of those teams [England and New Zealand] which shows we're not a mile off in terms of ourselves as a cricket team."
Political messaging returns to Headingley
Much like during the game between Afghanistan and Pakistan, airplanes carrying political messages returned to the sky above Headingley during the India v Sri Lanka World Cup fixture on Saturday.
On that occasion, one message said "Justice for Balochistan", while the other said, "Help end disappearances in Pakistan". This time, it was "#JusticeforKashmir" and "India stop genocide & free Kashmir".
The ICC, as it had back on June 29, issued a statement expressing its disappointment.
"We are incredibly disappointed this has happened again. We do not condone any sort of political messages at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup," it said. "Throughout the tournament we have worked with local police forces around the country to prevent this type of protest occurring.
"After the previous incident we were assured by West Yorkshire Police there would not be repeat of this issue, so we are very dissatisfied it has happened again."
Malik retires from ODIs to focus on T20s
Although he did not play the match against Bangladesh, Shoaib Malik was given a guard of honour after they secured a comfortable victory in their final match of the 2019 World Cup. The 37-year old allrounder had previously said that he would be end his 50-over career at the end of the tournament.
"I'm retiring from ODI cricket. I had planned this a few years ago - to retire after Pakistan's last World Cup match," he said in a statement on Friday. "I'm sad that I'll be leaving a format of cricket I once loved but happy that I have more time to spend with my family. This will also allow me to focus on T20s."
Malik played 287 ODIs and finished with 7534 runs - fifth-highest for Pakistan - including nine hundreds and 44 fifties.
Mashrafe set for an 'emotional' World Cup farewell
Mashrafe Mortaza stayed away from training on the eve of what will be the last World Cup game of his career, and also skipped the pre-match press conference - the second one he has missed in a row, having stayed away from the interaction after the match against India. That, added to the fact that Bangladesh don't have too many ODIs lined up over the next 12 months, has led to speculation about Mashrafe's future in international cricket, even though he has said he has no plans of retiring just yet.
"The players respect him incredibly. I often use the word 'warrior'. He goes to war for the team and people respect that, understand that, and they love him because of that," Steve Rhodes, the team coach, said when asked about Mashrafe's plans. "The players in the dressing room do love Mash, and he has said it's his last World Cup, and it will be emotional for him.
"Let's understand and respect Mash's situation regarding his last game in World Cup but then concentrate on the cricket. Hopefully, the boys will give him the right sort of respect playing his last game in the World Cup, but then most importantly, we'll concentrate on the match.
"Mashrafe will decide himself with the board, and everybody ought to leave that up to them, and I think whilst it's a great story for the media, let's pay a little respect and let him organise whether he does or he doesn't."
I've never hit the ball better - Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell feels he is hitting the ball as well as any stage of his career and is confident a telling score is around the corner after not quite being able to find lift-off during the group stage.
Maxwell has scored quickly - with a strike-rate of 190 - but not for very long, making just 143 runs in eight innings ahead of facing South Africa. He threatened against India when the asking rate was steep, struck an unbeaten 46 off 25 balls against Sri Lanka and was cutting lose against Bangladesh with 32 off just 10 balls before being run out.
"I feel like I haven't hit the ball better in my career, I just haven't got the runs," he said. "It's been nice to be relaxed when I got out into the middle, just runs probably haven't come the way I would have liked but sure they aren't far away. If I was out form and out of runs I'd be a bit more nervous but feel I hit the ball in the middle the other day [against New Zealand] then got one on the toe end, so I'm not too worried. I've been training really well so a big one not far away."
Maxwell, who spent a month in county cricket with Lancashire before the World Cup instead of going to the IPL, won't be changing any of his routines ahead of the semi-final.
"I feel like I've been able to play my role over different times. Over the last two or three games I just haven't got away and the first bit of bad luck seems to go against you - against Bangladesh I was run out when I was hitting them as well as I ever have and from then it's been a bit tough going. It's just about not over complicating it and clouding your head even further."