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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Runs aplenty forecast for final

Ashish Magotra | March 22, 2003 19:56 IST

The Wanderers cricket stadium in Johannesburg is a sight for sore eyes. The inch-perfect, well-manicured turf stares arrogantly, bewildering you with its natural beauty. You can hear music blaring through the speakers, bouncing off the empty stands, as last minute preparations are under way for Sunday's World Cup final.

In the centre of the ground, a few camera flashes attract my attention. I look to see who the object of adulation is. Chris Scott, the groundsman at The Wanderers for the last 30 years, is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame.

On Sunday, March 23, The Wanderers will be the cynosure of 1.4 billion eyes the world over, and Chris wants it to look good. Precisely, the reason why the outfield will not be as quick as in earlier games. The mower has been raised by 1mm. It feels nice and soft to walk on, just perfect to dive around.

Scott has been preparing for this day for three years, working on the pitch, the outfield, the drainage system, to ensure everything is perfect for the big day.

The outfield will not have a very big part to play though in the outcome of the match. The pitch will have a more direct action.

"The state of the pitch will depend on the weather a great deal," reckons Scott, "It should be nice and hard, provided we have some sunshine. Right now it is a little bit soft but by Sunday that will be remedied."

As with all pitches in South Africa, this one will afford some assistance to the fast bowlers in the early going. But thereafter, it should be a good batting track.

"The ball will come on to the bat and that's how the batsmen like it, but there will be good bounce in the wicket."

So, does the pitch favour the side batting first or second? After all, this is the World Cup final we are talking about, any miniscule mistake could haunt the team for years to come.

"It does not really matter whether you bat or field first. So it's just a question of what you are comfortable with -- setting a target or chasing one. The captain should do what he feels his side is comfortable with. Though, as the saying goes, bite the cherry first. I would prefer to set the target and put the pressure on the chasing side," suggests Scott.

Both teams are well-matched at the moment. The batsmen seem to be clicking at just the right time, the seamers have been fantastic for their teams and, man-to-man, there is little to choose between the two sides. But the Australians are used to playing on hard, bouncy wickets and the Indians on soft wickets that keep low and turn.

"If it is really hot today and all the moisture is sucked then it will favour the Australians. But if it is a little bit soft then the tables are turned."

Scott has been around the cricketing scene for a long time and has no doubt that "Australia and India have been the two best teams in the competition by far and deserve to be in the final.

"A total of around 280 [this is the same wicket where the South Africa-New Zealand game was played. South Africa, batting first, had recorded a mammoth total of 306 and New Zealand (229/1 in the 37th over) were well on their way to achieving that total when weather intervened] is minimum a team should look to get. As in the earlier matches, scoring at a good rate is not impossible."

Scott is a true South African and, like millions of his countrymen, is hoping that India defeats Australia.

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 8

Sub: Appreciation

Nice article on the pitch & the field for world cup finals at 'wanderers' , Johannesburg , SA. Kudos to you . All the best ...

Posted by Mukesh Mehta

Sub: three 'S'

ya.... india take on australia final & it's always a great day for every cricketer, it is a dream day for every cricketer's life.... india ...

Posted by atul patel

Sub: strategy for the final

If the pitch tomorrow at the time of the toss is hard and the weather is sunny, definitely australia will prefer to bat first. under ...

Posted by atul bhatt

Sub: India only wins !

Dear Viewers, According to Mr.Scott, the experienced groundsman of South Africa, it will be cheers all over if India defeats Australia in the WC Final. ...

Posted by K P Ramesh Kannan

Sub: response to scott's article

dear sir, i believe strongly in indians win if they play to their standards.their batting has been the main asset to them ,when it comes ...

Posted by kishore


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