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January 22, 2003 17:11 IST
In a first at cricket's premier event, teams will undergo random drug tests "at least once" during the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa.
"All participating teams in the competition will be randomly tested at least once for the duration of the tournament," Daphne Bradbury, CEO, South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport announced on Tuesday.
"Because of the time constraints of the competition, the results will be available within 48 hours of testing," said Bradbury.
The urine samples would be sent to the anti-doping unit at the University of the Free State, one of only 27 labs with IOC accreditation.
"Should a player test positive for one of the banned substances, the matter would be reported to the ICC and it would be up to them to impose censure on the player," he added.
Bookmaker William Hill believes the World Cup is a two-horse race, with Australia favourites at 11/8 and South Africa close behind at 11/4. India are next best at 13/2.
The South African cricket squad began their preparations for the World Cup in the beautiful mountains and valleys of the Drakensberg on Tuesday, and not a cricket bat or ball in sight.
Three days of motivational and psychological preparations started with an orienteering course. The 15 players were divided into four groups and blindfolded before being flown by helicopter into a forest. For Robin Peterson, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini the chopper flight was a first and they were a little apprehensive given the overcast conditions.
Each group was equipped with a set of instructions, a pencil, a balloon, a compass, and, in case of emergency, a two-way radio. Blindfolds removed, they set off at ten-minute intervals searching for the five checkpoint markers hidden in the forests and hills over the ten-kilometer course by making use of the compass to get their bearings.
South Africa's dream of winning the World Cup at home will not come true.
That is the view of Paul Reiffel, who was part of the Australia side that twice beat South Africa en route to World Cup glory in 1999.
Reiffel, now retired, believes South Africa will carry the scars of those defeats into the tournament.
"I think Australia has a psychological hold over South Africa,"
"I think it stems back to the last World Cup and our ability to get on top of them in crucial moments in the big games.
"I really think if the two teams meet again in this World Cup the result will be the same."
The two teams will not face each other in the group games, but are almost certain to meet in the latter stages of the tournament -- perhaps even the final.
Veteran Aravinda de Silva insists Sri Lanka's poor recent form will count for little in the World Cup.
The 1996 World Cup winners have suffered a poor run-up to the tournament, losing December's one-day series in South Africa 4-1.
And a nine-wicket defeat to Australia on Tuesday ended their involvement in the VB Series, with England joining the hosts in the finals.
Sri Lanka won two of eight matches in the VB Series, beating Australia and England once each.
"It's going to be a totally different ball game on the World Cup tour," De Silva said.
"We won't be playing one opponent all the time -- some opponents will be weak and some strong.
De Silva relished his country's under-dog tag -- one they overcame to win the title in 1996, thanks to his century in the final.
"If we get to the Super Six and have one or two good days I'm sure we can give teams a good run," he went on.
Sri Lanka open their World Cup campaign against New Zealand in Bloemfontein on February 10.
The International Cricket Council has left the door open for a possible U-turn on cricket World Cup matches being moved from Zimbabwe.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed is returning to the southern African country on Wednesday with Dr Ali Bacher, who is chief executive of the World Cup organising committee.
The ICC gave Zimbabwe the all-clear in November but now want to make sure a comprehensive security plan is in place before giving six World Cup matches the final go-ahead.
Cricket's governing body will move matches from the country, which is in political and economical turmoil, only if it believes the safety of players is in doubt.
On Tuesday, one person died and seven others were injured when petrol bombs were thrown at an office in a suburb of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.
Tickets for key World Cup matches have been snapped up by local fans after tickets had been re-introduced into the system on Monday.
Matches at Kingsmead that are now completely sold out are the India v England clash, South Africa's pool match against Sri Lanka and the Super Six fixture. The semifinal to be staged at Kingsmead had already been sold out.
Demand for the remaining tickets for the ICC Cricket World Cup peaked again on Monday when tickets were re-introduced into the system for some of the high-profile matches.
The tickets became available after some people failed to make good on their purchases after being allocated seats in the Ticket Window random-draw ballot system, which closed last week. Some tickets were also returned by sponsors who did not want to purchase their full allocation.
About 15,000 tickets were sold on Monday.
The matches sold out were:
Durban: England v India
Cape Town: SA v West Indies
Centurion: India v Pakistan
Johannesburg: New Zealand v SA
Durban: Super Six
Cape Town: England v Pakistan
Durban: SA v Sri Lanka
Centurion: Super Six: Pool A 1 v Pool B 1
Johannesburg: Super Six
Centurion: Australia v India
Matches almost sold out:
Cape Town: Super Six
Port Elizabeth: Semi-final
Centurion: Super Six: Pool A 2 v Pool B 3
Matches sold out before Monday:
There are still 95 000 tickets available for other matches at all 12 venues in South Africa.
There are also some tickets available for the opening ceremony in Cape Town on February 8.
The Black Caps will have enough time to adjust to South African conditions before the cricket World Cup, but their top order has to fire, Auckland coach Mark O'Donnell said.
New Zealand coach Denis Aberhart will meet O'Donnell during Auckland's State Shield match against Wellington at North Harbour Stadium to pick his brains about what to expect in South Africa.
New Zealand-born O'Donnell had coaching assignments at Eastern Province, Griqualand West and Gauteng before taking up the Auckland job at the beginning of the season.
He said he would be able to pass on advice on game plan, the Black Caps' practice and playing venues, and what scores were usually made at the various grounds.
"It's just some information," he said. "If it's a 5 per cent or a 10 percent pick-up in some areas, then that's good."
The Blacks Caps fly out on January 27, with their first World Cup fixture being against Sri Lanka on February 10.
England's Andrew Caddick fears he will never bowl with Darren Gough again in international cricket.
The strike partnership have been one of England's success stories since they began opening the bowling together in 1999, sharing 462 Test wickets.
But Gough, 33, has not played international cricket for 10 months, and returned home early from the Ashes tour after failing to recover from a knee injury.
"I'm not up-to-date on what Darren's been doing medically.
"But it's a big ask for him to come back at his age into the international arena," Caddick told BBC Radio Five Live.
"I don't think the partnership will be back but you never know what partnership is around the corner."
Gough has admitted his international career could be finished if he could not gain successful treatment on his worn-out cartilage.
Caddick passed his former partner's career total of 228 Test victims with a seven-wicket haul that led England to victory in the final Ashes Test.
Caddick, whose 62 Test caps are six more than Gough's, now has 234 Test scalps at an average of 29.91.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tim Lamb hopes Gough will return next season.
New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle has pulled out of his contract with Derbyshire to have knee surgery.
Astle, New Zealand's highest-ranked one-day batsman and the holder of the world record for the fastest Test double century, will be operated on after the World Cup.
He will need six months rehabilitation which means he will not be able to honour his contract.
Astle said: "It is incredibly frustrating having to say no to Derbyshire but I want to play for New Zealand for another couple of years and I don't want to jeopardise that."
"It might get sore at the World Cup but I don't want to miss that for anything."
"I think we can manage the problem there with a sensible workload, lots of Voltarins [anti-inflammatory tablets] and just the adrenaline of the occasion."
Astle, who played one season for Nottinghamshire, was contracted to Derbyshire from June to September.
His unavailability could mean the county offer an extended deal to Pakistan's Shahid Afridi, who is currently contracted for April and May.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes a day off has made all the difference to his batting ahead of the VB Series finals against England.
After being dismissed for 15 in three consecutive innings Ponting was rested for the hosts' four-wicket win over England on Sunday.
And he bounced back in style, smashing an unbeaten 106 as Australia warmed up for the finals with a meaningless nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
"I haven't been batting well but to spend time in the middle and feel good about batting was good," Ponting said.
"I haven't had a hit since my last game but I felt fresh and hit the ball nicely.
"I wasn't trying to hit it too hard, which has been my undoing in the last few matches."
The Australian Cricketers' Association believes Shane Warne's retirement from one-day internationals highlights a major concern for modern players burnout.
Warne today announced he would be standing down from international
limited overs cricket after the World Cup to prolong his Test
ACA chief executive Tim May said Warne's decision raised concerns about the non-stop nature of modern cricket.
"Shane will be sorely missed from the Australian one-day cricket side and the international game is the worse for his retirement from this form of the game," May said.
"Shane's early retirement from one-day international cricket raises a concern regarding the possible early retirement of the game's leading players due to the non-stop nature of the international cricketing schedule.
"With the prolific scheduling of international matches, player burnout is a career threatening issue facing all international cricketers."
May said the hectic international cricket schedule and the dangers it presented had been acknowledged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) at a captains' meeting in July last year.
He said it had been further reinforced when the ICC issued guidelines for international programming including a maximum of 15 Tests and 30 one-day internationals per year, minimum breaks between matches, and as per the Condon report, a reduction of meaningless one day matches.
Pakistan coach Richard Pybus wants to persuade Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram, the country's most successful bowlers in Test and one-day cricket, to delay their retirement plans when the World Cup ends in March.
Inzamam-ul Haq and opener Saeed Anwar, the fourth and sixth-highest scorers in one-day internationals, have also been mulling their futures. Inzamam is keen to play on, according to Pybus, while the others will review their situations after the Feb. 9-March 23 tournament. Pybus doesn't want them to quit together.
"I've seen the damage that can do to a team and I'll be talking to them about that at the World Cup,"' Pybus said in an interview.
Australia's Greg Chappell, Rodney Marsh and Dennis Lillee -- three of the world's leading players -- retired after the same match in 1984. Australia won three of its next 32 Tests.
Wasim, 36, with 490 one-day victims, and the 31-year-old Waqar, the only other bowler to claim 400 one-day wickets, made their international debuts in 1984 and 1989 respectively. They've played 606 one-day matches put together. Saeed has made 252 one-day appearances.