Steve Waugh has cautioned his celebrating World Cup champions to beware of a resurgent West Indies on the eve of the Australian cricket team's departure to the Caribbean.
The four-Test series and six one-day internationals will challenge the stamina and mental strength of the players, with many already on the road for eight months during one of the longest campaigns in Australian cricket history.
Australia crushed the West Indies 5-0 when they last toured in 2000-01, in a disappointingly one-sided series, but Waugh will be gauging his team's prospects from the last trip to the Caribbean in 1999.
Australia drew the last series there 2-2 in Waugh's first series as captain.
Brian Lara was outstanding in that series and averages almost 50 against Australia making him a danger man for the Australian bowlers.
"He'll certainly lift for an Australian series, he always does," Waugh said.
"He was phenomenal last time we were there and, knowing him, he will want to play well against the best side in the world so he'll definitely fire up."
"They're one of the few sides in world cricket which are on the up," Waugh said.
"Their batting looks very strong and there's some very good young players - Sarwan, Samuels, (Chris) Gayle, (Wavell) Hinds, then you've got (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul, Lara, (Carl) Hooper and (Ridley) Jacobs there so it's an excellent batting side. This (Jermaine) Lawson looks like a good bowling prospect and then you've got Merv Dillon and we've come across a few other blokes.
In the wake of Britain's participation in the US-led war on Iraq, the Pakistan Cricket Board has sent an official to England to review security arrangements ahead of the country's proposed tour in June.
A Board official said the visit by Zakir Khan, General Manager, Cricket Operations, had been necessitated by the threat of IRA movement in the United Kingdom, recent bomb threats and blasts in London and Britain's involvement in the Gulf war.
"We just want to be sure that if Pakistan plays in England our players don't face any security problems there because of these issues. Security today is a worldwide problem and not just restricted to a few countries," the official was quoted as saying by local daily The News.
Pakistan will play three one-day internationals besides some warm-up games, which are not part of the regular England season.
Though the PCB sources cited security concerns for sending Zakir Khan to England, news reports here suggested that the mission was undertaken as a retaliatory measure for what England did in 2000.
UK officials had visited Pakistan to review security scenario prior to the Englishmen's tour to the country three years back.
All-rounder Adam Hollioake says he is "better equipped" to captain England's one-day team, which according to him is the ultimate job for every English cricketer.
"It's a tough job, but I would relish the captaincy," he told the Skysports web site. "I don't know anyone who would turn down the chance to captain England. It's the ultimate job and I would jump at it."
Though young batsman Michael Vaughan is the favourite to step in to the shoes of Nasser Hussain, who left the post after England's first round exit from the World Cup in South Africa, Hollioake said his ambition was to captain the side in the the game's show-piece event in West Indies in 2007.
The Surrey skipper, who led England in 14 ODIs between 1997 and 1999, lost his brother Ben in a car crash in Sydney last year. But Hollioake said the death of his brother made him more mature as a cricketer.
"Ben's passing has made me a better person and a better player," he added. "When Ben went, I suddenly realised that getting a duck was not that important in the grand scale of life.
"I have a fearless attitude where the opposition finds it difficult to read my intentions. If the ball is there to be hit, I flog it. It's not suicidal: it's a calculating approach and hugely rewarding, allowing me to play with more freedom.
"I am more compassionate, less selfish and I value player's opinions more than perhaps I did. Above all, I want a chance to have some influence on a bright new era for English cricket," the 31-year old said.
Officials named a new coach and made some changes to the poorly performing World Cup team ahead of the upcoming Test series against South Africa and a tri-nation limited-overs international tournament, the Bangladesh Cricket Board said.
Bangladeshi Sarwar Imran will take over from Pakistani coach Mohsin Kamal, who was sacked after the Bangladesh team failed to win a single match at the World Cup in South Africa, the BCB said in a statement.
Imran, a professional coach, had a brief stint with the national team in 2001.
The tri-nation tournament involving Bangladesh, India and South Africa will be held in Dhaka from April 11-20, and will be followed by a two-Test home series against South Africa from April 24-May 5.
The BCB also announced Khaled Mahmud as skipper of the country's national team for the tri-nation tournament.
Opener Ravindu Shah is among three experienced players from the World Cup missing from the Kenyan team for the Sharjah Cup tournament starting in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week, cricket officials said.
Shah, who hit 46 against Australia in the Super Six phase of the World Cup is unavailable for the trip, according to Asif Padamshi, the Kenya Cricket Association chief selector.
Veteran off-spinner Asif Karim and Alpesh Vadher, who both came out of retirement to play in the World Cup in South Africa, have decided to exit the the sport again.
The selectors have included in the Sharjah squad two members of the national under-19 team -- Alfred Luseno and Maurice Ouma.
Strike bowler Jimmy Kamande, who was dropped from the World Cup squad has been recalled.
Nipun Patel has been named manager while the UAE has agreed to loan their coach, Abdi Ali, to the Kenyans for the duration of the tournament.
The Kenyan team will leave Nairobi on Tuesday for Sharjah and play Zimbabwe in their first match on April 5.