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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

February 07, 2003 15:57 IST

Umpires Daryl Harper of Australia and India's Srinivas Venkataraghavan will officiate in the opening encounter of the World Cup between hosts South Africa and two-time former champions West Indies on Sunday.

According to the postings announced by International Cricket Council, Sri Lanka's Ranjan Madugalle has been nominated as the match referee and Peter Willey of England the TV umpire for the day/night clash at Newlands in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, David Shepherd and Asoka de Silva will supervised the much-awaited confrontation between holders Australia and the 1999 World Cup runners-up Pakistan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Brent Bowden is the TV umpire and Clive Lloyd the match referee.

The clash between traditional rivals Pakistan and India will be officiated by Shepherd and Rudi Koertzen, with Bowden monitoring TV replays and Mike Procter, the former South African all-rounder, the match referee.

The England and Wales Cricket Board had appealed against a decision to force England to play their first World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Harare. The ECB had asked the International Cricket Council for the game to be moved to South Africa on safety grounds, but after a four-hour meeting in Capetown, the ICC concluded the match would go ahead on Thursday as scheduled.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said: "The unanimous view of the committee is that the request by the England and Wales Cricket Board must be declined. "The ICC reiterates its concern for achieving the safety and security of the England team. But we've done the best we can to make what we believe is a fair and honest decision."

The appeal is set to be heard by the ICC-appointed South African judge, Justice Albie Sachs, in Cape Town on Friday. However, if England lose that and elect not to play in Harare on 13 February, they are likely to forfeit the match.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting and leg spinner Shane Warne suffered injury scares five days before the world champions' opening World Cup match. Ponting was forced to pull out of Thursday's warm-up match against Northerns with a hamstring complaint, and Warne had to leave the field after injuring his finger.

Australia won the match by five wickets after stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist and Jimmy Maher smashed half-centuries to help their team overcome Northerns' total of 277. But the biggest concern for the tournament favourites was the fitness of Warne and Ponting, though both were cleared of any serious problems.

An umbrella group for journalists on Thursday accused international cricket chiefs of ignoring what it called a pattern of violence against media, and attempts by President Robert Mugabe's regime to gag sports reporters who cover the World Cup cricket competition.

"Zimbabwe is anything but a safe venue for journalists," Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said in a letter to Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the International Cricket Council.

The Brussels-based IFJ, whose member unions represent more than 500 000 journalists around the world, accused world cricket's governing body of showing "no consideration for the difficulties facing journalists" in Zimbabwe, including allegations of violence, legal assaults and intimidation.

The IFJ also has protested alleged government attempts to force reporters coming to Zimbabwe to cover the cricket matches to sign gag orders that will stop them reporting on anything else.

Australian fast bowler Brett Lee believes his international career has been prolonged because he stopped drinking beer.

The fast bowler called time on his drinking after his form slumped two years ago when he suffered from an ankle injury and a sore back which threatened his career. "According to studies being done, athletes who drink alcohol are 15 times more likely to get injured," Lee said. "It does not matter whether you are having one beer or 15 beers. I was told to try and stop drinking for a month. "One thing led to another and I did not have a single drink for 12 months.

It was not hard work, it was one of those things where it was a good challenge. "I felt very fit, probably the fittest I have ever been. I went through the last two seasons, touch wood, not having been injured," Lee said.

Ladbrokes have given the Netherlands a 5000:1 chance of winning the World Cup. But this bet, and Tuesday's defeat in their warm-up match against Western Province B, have not discouraged the Dutch team.

Western Province captain H D Ackerman can hardly suppress a laugh when he says the five thousand to one chance is pretty realistic. "It's wonderful that they have earned the right to play in the World Cup, but I really don't think they have a chance of winning."

Emerson Trotman, coach of the Dutch team, agrees that collecting the 2003 trophy would be "asking a bit too much".

 "We are here so the boys can gain and learn a lot, as the World Cup is good experience.

"But we have quite a good chance of winning two matches, possibly against Namibia or Zimbabwe," he said optimistically. "We can actually win any other game. Everything is possible."

"Electrifying" is probably the best word to describe Jhonty Rhodes's funky new spiky hairdo, a far cry from the conservative schoolboy cut he has favoured down the years and electrifying performances are exactly what South Africans will be looking for from their cricketers throughout their World Cup campaign.

"Kate (Rhodes's wife) told me to model my hair on Hugh Grant's, but the hairstylist said my hair and Hugh Grant simply did not go together," said Rhodes. And the reason for the new Rhodes look? "It makes me look taller."

A "brilliant" final dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the 2003 Cricket World Cup on Saturday went off without a hitch at Newlands on Wednesday night. Ken Annandale, chairman of the organisers, Ceremonies for Africa, said: "It was awesome, as could be seen from the way the crowd was rocking. Two years of work went into this."

Cricket World Cup organising committee head Ali Bacher described the ceremony as "breathtaking, brilliant and a credit to South Africa". A 4,700-strong cast danced and wove a magic carpet on the field to the sounds of Johnny Clegg, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Judith Sephuma, the Soweto String Quartet, Hugh Masekela, Danny K and kwaito star Arthur.

Six themes -- safari, unity, township, ocean, innovation and protocol -- were played out, enchanting more than 20,000 people who packed the stadium for a foretaste of the ceremony, which is to be beamed live to a television audience of 1.4 billion on Saturday night. The rehearsal featured stand-ins for VIPs and the 14 teams. The show ended with a carnival scene featuring the Cape minstrels.

Shane Warne is about to say goodbye to one-day cricket but wants to hand down his magical tricks to promising understudy Brad Hogg. Warne has ordained Hogg as the man to fill his giant one-day shoes and believes their odd-couple spin partnership could soon be given Test match exposure.

Warne has helped Hogg and plans to pass on as many of his deliveries as possible, including one of his greatest weapons, the slider, a front of the hand delivery that has been a potent wicket-taker.

"I'm trying to teach him all my tricks in one-day cricket. I've been trying to teach him the slider. The thought of the two of us bowling together is fantastic," Warne said.

"He's got a very good wrong-un. Not too many people can pick his wrong-un; we're working on just spinning his leg break a bit more and trying to minimise his bad balls.

"As an all-rounder Hoggy is batting as well as anyone in that role. His bowling is a bonus and his fielding's great so I think he's perfectly suited to this form of the game," Warne said.

A Zimbabwean living in Bulawayo has said he would not watch Australia play in the World Cup in his home town, even if he was offered a free ticket to the match. Bernard McCann, whose daughter and grandchildren live in Brisbane, said most people are upset that Australia have agreed to play in Zimbabwe.

McCann said locals are feeling let down that the international teams are not boycotting the country, which is in a state of political turmoil, economic collapse and ravaged by famine, induced by the regime of President Robert Mugabe.

"When South Africa had apartheid Australia said it wouldn't play South Africa, and the same before that with Rhodesia," said McCann.

"But I can tell you the atrocities which are being committed in this country are a hell of a lot worse than they ever were in those times."

Visiting journalists covering the World Cup matches in Zimbabwe will not have to pay a $600 permit being demanded by the Zimbabwe government, tournament executive director Ali Bacher said on Thursday.

"About restricting the $600 claim, I was informed by the Minister of Information in Zimbabwe this morning [Thursday] that, with immediate effect, it has been withdrawn," Bacher said.

"All ICC accredited media can go through the normal process and go into Zimbabwe -- and you do not have to pay $600."

Under ICC rules, journalists covering cricket's showpiece tournament, starting on Sunday, should not face financial charges to enter the three host countries South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. The $600 charge was announced in recent regulations introduced by Zimbabwe Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo.

The International Cricket Council will meet on Friday to determine whether West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels will be allowed to join their squad for the World Cup.

New medical examinations suggest the player's problem is less severe than first diagnosed, prompting the West Indies to ask for permission to recall Samuels.

The ICC's World Cup Technical Committee said in a statement it would meet on Friday to discuss whether or not Samuels can join the squad for the 54-game tournament in southern Africa.

"The technical committee will meet with representatives of the West Indies Cricket Board to consider the application," the statement said.

Earlier this week, World Cup official Brian Basson, designated to deal with medical issues and injury replacements, said: "The matter was originally dealt with on medical grounds and the same will apply again. They will just need to submit copies of the medical reports and we'll take it from there, but I really don't foresee a problem. Everybody wants the best players in the world to be at the World Cup."

Smoking will not be allowed in the viewing areas of stadiums hosting the World Cup matches.

Dr Ali Bacher, Executive Director of CWC 2003, and Peter Ucko, Director of the National Council Against Smoking, made this announcement on Thursday. Spectactors wishing to smoke may do so in open areas behind the seated areas. Dr Bacher said: "Smoking will not be permitted in any pavilion, boxes, stands or embankments from which play can be watched.

"We want spectators to enjoy all the matches in the most comfortable and congenial circumstances possible."

Dr Bacher said that when discussions began between himself and Peter Ucko in August last year, he immediately supported the principle.

"This decision is in line with the international trend of smoke-free stadiums at the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup."

Mr Ucko said he was delighted with the decision. "The enjoyment of the matches will be enhanced by this policy of protecting the comfort and health of spectators."

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