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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Buchanan keen to avoid
Durban semi-final

Brian Murgatroyd | March 02, 2003 13:16 IST

Australia coach John Buchanan would prefer to avoid a day-night semi-final in Durban if his side progress from the World Cup Super Sixes, because he believes the toss would be too much of a factor.

But, although many commentators say that evening conditions and dew can offer bowlers more seam and swing movement, Buchanan argues that history indicates sides batting second in Durban win the majority of games.

"From my knowledge of the facts, when we came here last year, about 70 percent of international matches in Durban are won by sides batting second," Buchanan told Reuters.

"That is generally because the ball seems to do a bit more during the day then at night. If it is still and the weather conditions are normal, dew can settle.

"That means the ball moves around less and spinners become less effective so it is easier to bat second."

Buchanan's own coaching experience bears out his claims. In April 2000, his Australia side were thrashed by six wickets under the Durban lights after setting South Africa 241 to win.

Last March, Australia gained some revenge, winning by eight wickets chasing 268.


"That is the history," said Buchanan. "Whether it is accurate history or not, the point is, even if it is only partially accurate, you are still unsure what you should do at the toss because there are elements that might affect the game."

That still leaves the need to explain why India's bowlers destroyed England's batting in a day-night game in Durban last Wednesday and why the West Indies, Sri Lanka and England have all won other high-profile day-night matches batting first.

"No matter what the game, the white ball offers something to the bowlers when it is new," said Buchanan.

"It is always how well the bowlers exploit that period and how well the batting side deals with that.

"In Durban the other night, a bowler began to hit the right spot accurately and regularly and the England batting was not able to respond."

The Australia coach's other reason for avoiding Durban as a semi-final venue is that he wants his side to maintain their winning momentum.

Australia have won their first five matches of the tournament and, if they can keep that form going, then they will play their semi-final in Port Elizabeth on March 18 by virtue of topping the Super Six table.


"Our preference would obviously be to continue our run and that would mean playing a semi-final in Port Elizabeth," he said.

"It would also mean we would have played two games there by that point, one in the group stage against England (on Sunday) and one in the Super Sixes, so we would be more familiar with the ground and the way the wicket plays."

Preferences apart, Buchanan said he was prepared for Australia to play at either semi-final venue, confident that his players would be able to cope with whatever situations they faced.

"All the history still comes down to the fact that, if we do progress to the semi-final and end up in Durban, it still has to be dealt with, it is as simple as that," he said.

"The prospect of losing the toss there will also have to be dealt with and the next two weeks will get us ready for whatever a possible semi-final will throw up."

However Australia's impressive form suggests Port Elizabeth is their most likely semi-final venue, enhancing the already real prospect of the defending champions going through the tournament unbeaten.

"We have the potential to do that but the most dangerous side to stop us achieving that is ourselves," said Buchanan.

"I don't doubt our belief and there is also always an element of luck involved but it is a question of whether we have the resilience, the mental capacity and the patience to achieve it."

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Sub: what is this about

if the ball swings around in the second innings and still the side batting second has won 70% of the time. then what is the ...

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