#CWC15 PREVIEW: What they are saying about Cricket World Cup Pool A

At cricketbadger.com we are all over the ICC Cricket World Cup. Here we look at what the teams in Pool A are saying ahead of battle commencing…

AFGHANISTAN

“We have been in constant war for the past 30 years, and so something like playing in a World Cup is big for us,” said Afghan high performance manager Bashir Stanikzai. “Ours is a cricket crazy nation, and we have a huge following.

“Our fans are not just in Afghanistan, but are spread over America, Europe and Asia because of what we have achieved in short time.

“We will be the underdogs of our group, but the positive sign is we will have a good backing in Australia and New Zealand.

“Fortunately, we have beaten Bangladesh in the Asia Cup last year, which obviously has given us the confidence. We have played Australia, so know a little about their strengths and weaknesses.”

Captain Mohammad Nabi is in confident mood: “We have a chance, if we play to our potential, to qualify for the quarter-finals. This is a game that can bring Afghanistan together and be a very good tool for peace and stability.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: Afghanistan living a dream. Can they deliver at Cricket World Cup 2015?

AUSTRALIA

Steve Smith

In-form all-rounder Steve Smith has hailed the support of his team-mates after an unforgettable summer: “I’ve really enjoyed every moment of it, the support I’ve been given from the public, and all of my teammates as well.

“All the senior players have helped me a lot through this period.”

Coach Darren Lehmann on captain Michael Clarke’s recovery from his hamstring injury: “He’s captain of Australia, the second most important position behind the prime minister as such. We need our captain playing well.

“From our point of view, we want our captain fit, which is great leading into the most important tournament for four years. He’s ahead of schedule.”

Gun batsman David Warner is confident the pre-tournament favourites can deliver, saying: “We’ve got the perfect squad. The selectors have picked a fantastic squad, and the squad they believe is going to lift the trophy at the end.

“Our preparation has been spot on, the tri-series leading up, the (warm-up) game the other night and the game against the UAE as well.

“The boys have been very clinical in their preparation, and everyone is looking forward to getting out there.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: On home soil Australia aiming for fifth World Cup

BANGLADESH

Tamim Iqbal

“Three wins give you a chance, but if we win four games, we will probably make sure that we qualify for the quarter-finals,” said coach Chandika Hathurusinghe.

Captain Mashrafe Mortaza said: “Obviously, we want to go to the second round, but it’s a tough job. We really need a good start in the tournament. If we can start well, we will be confident against every other side.”

Zimbabwean Heath Streak, their bowling coach, is no stranger to being involved in a squad billed as underdogs: “We can definitely cause an upset and get to that quarter-final stage, that’s our big goal,” he said.

“But to guarantee that we have to upset two big teams. We also have to make sure we beat Scotland and Afghanistan, who we can’t take lightly.

“It’s a big ask, and it will be tough to beat Australia and New Zealand in their home conditions. But we’ve got players, and if they perform on a certain day, they can be match winners.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: Undercooked Bangladesh won’t make quarters

ENGLAND

“We’re here to win the World Cup. That’s the bottom line,” said captain Eoin Morgan. “Like every other team, we’re here to get the best out of ourselves. Us at our best, we can win this World Cup.

“It is certainly the most talented squad I’ve ever been a part of. We’re in good shape. We’ve had a very productive month or so (in Australia).

“We have got a lot out of playing against good opposition, particularly the games we’ve played against Australia. We’ve covered a lot of bases, probably more so than I thought we would to be in this position.”

Newly appointed limited overs vice-captain Jos Buttler admitted he is keen to take on more responsibility: “I don’t want to be someone who is talked about who could be a good player for England.

“It’s great to have potential, and it’s great to have talent, but there comes a stage where you want to be someone that the media and commentators don’t talk like that. They talk about you being a performer for England. That’s a stage where you have to get to.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: England - beware the wounded Lions

NEW ZEALAND

Brendan McCullum

Captain Brendon McCullum, a veteran of 14 years in international cricket, has high hopes for the BlackCaps: “The personnel within the group is as good as what I’ve been involved in,” he said. “The good thing is the style of play now is becoming so ingrained with the group as well, that the personnel may change at times, but the style is pretty consistent.

“We know what is going to give us our greatest chance toward success and we go about doing that.”

“This is a group which is desperate to represent New Zealand and perform on the international stage and start challenging the better teams around the world.

“We’ve made some significant strides in the last few months especially, and we’re starting to achieve some special things. It would be great if we could swallow a World Cup along the way.”

Fast bowler Tim Southee believes the New Zealand public have a team to be excited about: “We’ve played some great cricket leading up to now, and people are getting behind the brand of cricket that we’re playing,” he said.

“I think it’s an exciting brand. It’s getting people to the grounds and, I guess, watching on TV.

“The World Cup is a chance to get the country right in behind us. We saw what happened with the All Blacks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. That was great to be a part of as a rugby fan. Hopefully we can do our part as cricketers over the next two months, and enjoy and embrace what a special time it’s going to be.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: New Zealand can go all the way and win it

SCOTLAND

Fast bowler Iain Wardlaw says the Scots are ready for the big stage, and he is confident of a quarter-final place: “It’s massive for us,” he admitted. “It just rewards the hard work and development that’s gone in over the last two years.

“The side’s grown massively in terms of experience and talent. The guys have really put the hard work in, and we’re getting a little bit back now from the games we’re playing and the performances we’re putting in.

“It’s coming together better now than it was two years ago when I first came into the squad. The side’s worked hard, and everyone’s really excited to show what we can do.

“If we go into the competition thinking we’ll be happy to win one or two games, that’s not the best mindset.

“We believe we can beat some of the top teams. If we play well, we can beat England. If we beat one of the big sides and win the other games, we can push through to the knockouts.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: Scotland are capable of a surprise to grab first Cricket World Cup scalp

SRI LANKA

IMG_3140

Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga is fit again after injury, and is expected to carry the Sri Lankan bowling attack. However, captain Angelo Mathews insists: “You can’t write off the rest of the bowlers that we have.

“We’ve got fairly experienced bowlers, but Lasith is the X-factor. It’s just that in a one-off game, the others can also come into the party.

“We all expect Lasith to do well, but I’m pretty sure with the amount of talent that we’ve got in the side, anyone can do the job for us.”

The man himself, Malinga, is confident he can handle the expectation despite a lengthy lay-off with an ankle complaint: “I don’t know what pressure means,” he said. “I’m always used to pressure situations, so I wouldn’t even know what pressure is to talk about it.

“I want to have a free mindset and do what I can do. Throughout my career, I haven’t been looking out where I’m playing or what are the conditions. We know it will be bouncy here, but I always trust my skill.”

READ OUR PREVIEW: Sri Lanka are an exceptional tournament side and can win it

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