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Australia can wilt under pressure: Viv

February 09, 2003 16:36 IST

West Indian great Sir Vivian Richards feels the Australian team, though favourites to win the World Cup, could crack when faced by 'strong-minded opponents'.

"I believe this World Cup is pretty much wide open apart from Australia, who are probably ahead of most other teams. They deserve to be World Cup favourites," Richards said.

"But I've seen, having played in past West Indian teams, that no matter how tenacious an Australian side, they can be as mild as can be if we had strong characters.

"When our guys were strong, Australia did not handle that very well. Now they have learnt a hell of a lot and can match strong-minded teams. But I still feel that when it is dished out to them, they don't handle it too well," he was quoted as saying on the Web site of The Sun-Herald.

"Forget talent, this is all played upstairs."

Richards said the present Australian side is similar to the West Indies teams of '70s and '80s.

"They are role models about how to play cricket, but not role models about everything," he said referring to the Australian propensity for sledging.

But he conceded that Australia are setting the precedents for other teams to follow, much like the West Indies once did.

"Over the period we dominated international cricket, we set the ball rolling for what needed to be done to win. Other teams had to catch up. This Australian team has done magnificently well in that regard.

"A lot can be learned from the Australian and West Indies sides we are talking about," he said. "That streak we had in the '70s and '80s, set the pattern for that era.

"The Kerry Packer days really fired up teams' competitive natures and you saw much better performances because of the professionalism. The rest of the teams were not as fit as we were and they had to begin their own learning processes.

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