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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Aussies to rest key players

Brian Murgatroyd | February 18, 2003 14:17 IST

Australia coach John Buchanan has said the world champions will use Thursday's World Cup Group A match against the Netherlands to rest key players.

With Roland Lefebvre's team of part-timers unlikely to extend his in-form side, Buchanan said a few players who took part in the comfortable opening wins over Pakistan and India would be given a break.

"It is a long tournament and, although most players feel they could play right through, this is now an opportunity not to play a couple of them and give those who have not had much cricket an opportunity," Buchanan told reporters on Monday.

"In our thinking I would like to go to Zimbabwe with 14 players all of whom have had some cricket under their belts and are in contention for selection."

Buchanan said fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist are the players most likely to miss the match at Potchefstroom.

They would be replaced by pace bowler Andy Bichel, all rounder Ian Harvey and batsman Jimmy Maher, with the latter also taking over the wicketkeeping duties.

Buchanan also expects the batting order to be switched to ensure players short of time at the crease get an opportunity to play lengthy innings.

"I would think the likes of (Michael) Bevan, (Darren) Lehmann, Harvey, (Damien) Martyn and Maher would be pushed up to the top order," he said.

Australia are relaxed and confident going into the match, a fact reflected by Buchanan's admission they are unlikely to do much homework on their opponents as well as their decision to take two days off before pre-match practice on Wednesday.

At least one British bookmaker shares their confidence and is offering odds of 2000/1 on for an Australia victory.

With Australia expected to win so easily, there is naturally also the question of whether they can break any records, but Buchanan played down that talk.

"Of course there could be records but we are not going into the game with records on our mind," he said.

"The reality is that the Dutch shouldn't extend us but we want to gain as much as possible from the game in the lead-up to Zimbabwe.

"Hopefully, Holland will play out of their skins and really test us in batting, bowling and in the field."

The Netherlands arrived in Potchefstroom on Monday after losing to England by six wickets in East London, their second loss of the tournament after a 68-run defeat to India in their opening match.

It is their second time at the World Cup after previously competing in 1996, but they are yet to win a match.

Lefebvre's side were scheduled to practice on Monday afternoon but the session was abandoned because of rain.

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.


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