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February 16, 2003 16:27 IST

New Zealand have asked the International Cricket Council to switch their World Cup game against Kenya to South Africa.

The Kiwis say they will not travel to Nairobi for the Pool B game on February 21 due to safety concerns.

The request came on the same day that England were forced to forfeit their game against Zimbabwe after refusing to play in Harare.

"The situation is the New Zealand board have reconfirmed their decision made on 31 January, which is not to allow the New Zealand team to travel to Nairobi for the match on 21 February," said New Zealand Cricket chief Martin Snedden.

"The team won't go to Nairobi, we've advised the ICC of this and we've confirmed that we are willing to play the game at an alternative venue in South Africa at whatever date the ICC might determine. From our point of view, there's only one issue to consider in all of this and that is player safety.

"You just can't allow yourself to be deviated in any other direction."

He'd rather try and stop giant All Blacks rugby winger Jonah Lomu than face Australia fast bowler Brett Lee, but Namibian doctor Rudi van Vuuren may get the chance to do both this year.

The 30-year-old, who has completed half of one of sport's most incredible achievements by representing his African country in the cricket World Cup, now has his sights set on rugby's showpiece event in Australia later this year.

He has played for his country in both sports, helping Namibia complete a rare double by qualifying for both World Cups in 2003, and is confident of earning a place in the rugby squad.

"I should make it, injuries are the only concern at this stage," he said. "If it happens it's going to be great and I'll pat myself on the shoulder then but it's not the end of things if it doesn't happen, it's not a train smash."

Van Vuuren was part of the Namibian rugby squad that went to the 1999 World Cup, but did not play a game.

England captain Nasser Hussain wishes his team's actions had been as "clear and courageous" as the protest made by Zimbabwe's Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, who launched an attack against the running of their country.

"We talked about going to Harare and making a gesture, like wearing black armbands, or taking a bag of grain as one of the media suggested," Hussain said.

"It might have been a brave statement but was it a precedent for us to set? What would happen if all cricketers, and other sportsmen, made such statements in every country they didn't approve of?

"But...we must not hide from the fact that this is a political and moral issue as well, and we haven't made a real gesture of support for the people of Zimbabwe.

He added: "Deep down I wish our actions had been as clear and courageous as those of the two Zimbabweans."

Former World champion Sri Lanka issued a warning to their opponents in Group B with captain Sanath Jayasuriya saying his team is determined to make it to the Super Six stage by maintaining an all-win record.

"We can't take things lightly. Our aim is to win all the matches in the first round," Jayasuriya said after the island nation thrashed Bangladesh by 10 wickets to record their second victory in the tournament.

The skipper was also happy with his batting form and said he intends to continue with his good work. "From the last part of the Australian tour I am in good form. It is good to get some runs. I think, it is just the right time to be in good touch."

Asked why he didn't give a chance to Mahela Jayawardene to get some useful batting practice, Jayasuriya said laughing: "Somebody had to get out first. Then only some one can come in. Unfortunately that didn't happen."

Vaas, who won a gold watch after being selected man of the match, said: "I hope to continue with my good form as Dilhara (Fernando) and Pulasthi (Gunaratne) are not doing very well."

Vaas, who returned with extra-ordinary figures of 6 for 25, also gave an indication about the upbeat mood in the Sri Lankan camp saying, "We are very confident after the Australian tour."

England will not appeal against the decision to award Zimbabwe the points from their cancelled World Cup Group A match.

The England and Wales Cricket Board let a deadline pass saying that after careful consideration the ECB had decided not to appeal.

ECB chief executive Tim Lamb said everything had been done to persuade the ICC of the merits of the case.

But he said the issue had gone on long enough and it was time to move on in the interests of the World Cup

Sachin Tendulkar has sent a long-range message of encouragement to Shane Warne as the Australian fights to save his career.

Tendulkar said it was a great disappointment that the duo never got to have a final one-day meeting in last night's World Cup match before Warne retired from one-day cricket.

Warne, who has returned to Australia to face a likely hearing this week on charges of testing positive to a diuretic in Australia last month, looks set to miss the remainder of the tournament.

"It is really sad that after announcing his retirement from one-day cricket, Shane has to go out in this way," Tendulkar said.

"In my book he is one of the two best spinners I have played (Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan is the other).

"My respect for him shot up when he went through tough times in India (in 1998). Even though he had a bad shoulder, he never once complained.

"This is a real loss, not just for Australian fans but everyone who was looking forward to seeing him at the World Cup. We are good friends."

South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher took a lesson from one of the best glovemen in history on Friday as the hosts prepared for their World Cup Group B match against New Zealand on Sunday.

Boucher spent the early part of Friday's practice session alone with Australian Ian Healy, holder of the record for Test dismissals by a wicketkeeper with 395.

The South African keeper was widely criticised for his performance in the 10-wicket win over Kenya on Wednesday, in which he put down two chances and missed a stumping opportunity.

"He's probably one of the best keepers in the world ever," Boucher said. "Anything I can get from him is great.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with my keeping at the moment, as some people have written. People are allowed to have bad days and I had a bad day against Kenya.

"I'm very confident about my keeping and know that I'll be able to lift myself for Sunday's game."

South Africa coach Eric Simons explained why the 38-year-old Healy, whose 11-year international career ended in 1999, had been brought in to work with Boucher.

"I spoke to Bouch about who he'd like to work with some time ago. His style of keeping is closer to Ian Healy's than most other keepers. He has worked with Mark in the past and I asked him in Cape Town if he would come and spend some time with Bouch.

Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath believes team-mate Shane Warne brought his potential cricketing downfall upon himself and should have known the risks of taking a pill containing unknown substances.

McGrath said the Australian team was always kept well-informed about drugs and that given his experience, Warne was naive about accepting a pill from his mother.

As Warne awaits his hearing with the Australian Cricket Board's anti-doping committee after testing positive to a banned diuretic, McGrath endorsed captain Ricky Ponting's comments that Warne had acted without thinking.

"As much as the boys are right behind Warney 100 per cent, for someone of his experience, he should have known the risks," McGrath wrote in a News Limited column.

"I'd have to agree Shane was a little naive not to get the tablet checked."

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