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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Ponting cool with late arrival in Zimbabwe

Brian Murgatroyd | February 22, 2003 14:43 IST

Australia captain Ricky Ponting is hopeful his side's decision to fly to Bulawayo one day before their World Cup match against Zimbabwe will not affect their chances of collecting four points.

The defending champions will travel on a special charter flight from Johannesburg on Sunday morning, spending just one night in Zimbabwe before their Group A clash with the co-hosts at Queens Sports Club on Monday.

The decision to delay their journey by 48 hours to a country suffering from political and economic hardships has helped ease any security concerns the players may have had but Ponting concedes it was not the perfect match build-up.

"Flying in the day before is not ideal," he told Reuters. "But we have done similar things in one-day competitions before at home so hopefully it won't be too different.

"We are lucky to have Friday and Saturday to get our preparations right before we go there. It is not a big deal not training at the ground the day before as most of us have played in Bulawayo before and we know what to expect from conditions.

"We got the game against the Dutch out of the way, trained well on Friday, we will train again on Saturday and that will be our preparations done.

"We have then just got to go there and hope we can perform our skills well."

FINAL CONFIRMATION

Final confirmation of Australia's commitment to travel to Zimbabwe came on Friday when the Australian Cricket Board's cricket operations general manager Michael Brown reported back to the players after attending Wednesday's match in Harare between Zimbabwe and India.

"Michael spoke to us at the ground before training on Friday and gave us a fairly detailed report on the situation there, the medical facilities and the security on hand," said Ponting.

"He talked us through everything and said it was a real carnival atmosphere, he said everyone was mixing well together. It was just like a big country game and I have got no reservations about going now.

"The things most of the players were concerned about were safety and security issues in Zimbabwe but we know we are going to be looked after as well as we possibly can be.

"We will probably be shielded from most of the happenings there so we will just go in the day before the game, hopefully get up and play well and then come back that night," he added.

The issue of whether to play in strife-torn Zimbabwe has been a complex one, and England forfeited their game, scheduled to be staged in Harare on February 13, because of security and moral concerns.

Ponting, however, was content with the way his players had dealt with the matter.

TEAM MEETINGS

"I think it was at its peak when we arrived in South Africa and we had a few meetings as a team over a week or so and got everything off our chests," he said.

"We spoke about a lot of different issues but the ACB have been really good in keeping the guys updated. We are happy with the way things are going at the moment."

In the absence of security concerns, Ponting now wants to focus on the Bulawayo match itself, which is another vital one towards ensuring Australia's presence in the Super Sixes.

With all 14 players in the squad fit and available, he said he was not looking forward to the selection meeting before the game against Heath Streak's side.

Once again, Australia will have the dilemma over whether to pick just four specialist bowlers -- as they did against India -- or look to include a fifth specialist -- as they did against Pakistan.

"We have not spoken about the team yet but everyone is fit and took part in training on Friday so we have some selection dilemmas," said Ponting. "It will be a tough decision and I'm not sure which way we will go yet."

Defending champions Australia, who have won their first three games in style, head the Group A standings on 12 points.

© 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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