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February 01, 2003 14:29 IST
The Indian team is going about the task of capturing World Cup glory with 'quiet determination', coach John Wright said on Friday, even as he put to rest all speculation about Sachin Tendulkar's injury worries.
"There's a bit of quiet determination in the squad, even the new players are talking of being successful, which is a very good sign," he said.
"It was a nasty blow for us, but we've had to manage Sachin during the time of his injury and he has fully recovered to make his place in the team.
"It's exciting times and we've been working towards this tournament for over a year and things seem to be coming together," the former New Zealand opener said.
Darren Lehmann was on the verge of quitting cricket because he was so distraught about being branded a racist.
Lehmann, his eyes moist, opened up for the first time on Friday about the five-match suspension he received from the International Cricket Council for shouting 'black c....s' near the Sri Lankan dressing room following his dismissal in a tri-series match at the Gabba on January 15.
"It's by far the toughest period of my life," Lehmann said after a coaching clinic with a group of young black players in Potchefstroom was washed out by a thunderstorm.
"I contemplated giving the game away.
"I gave it lots of thought. It was more a case of me working out whether it was all worth it, to be perfectly honest. To be branded a racist is a pretty tough call. Everyone knows who I am and what I'm like and I'm definitely not one of those."
A leading Australian broadcaster has warned that there could be more World Cup boycotts following New Zealand's decision to bypass their fixture in Kenya.
Despite assurances from the ICC, the Kiwis have decided not to honour their February 21 fixture in Nairobi on grounds of security.
The ICC had said on Thursday that Zimbabwe's six matches will not be moved, but players from England and Australia remain reluctant to play in the troubled country.
Tim Lane, cricket commentator for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said an Aussie boycott is not out of the question.
"Australia were prepared to pull out of their tour to Zimbabwe last year on the basis of security concerns," Lane said of the abandoned tour in April 2002 over which the ICC chose not to take action.
England's cricketers could still boycott the match in Zimbabwe after describing Thursday's decision to go ahead with the fixture as a 'significant disappointment'.
Professional Cricketers' Association boss Richard Bevan is taking legal advice on whether Nasser Hussain's team would be justified in pulling out of the match on February 13.
"Legal advice is also being sought over the game's 'duty of care' not only to players, umpires and officials, but supporters and citizens of Harare," said a PCA statement.
"With reports of large numbers of people migrating to the major cities in Zimbabwe, there is a real concern of demonstrations occurring in greater numbers than previously.
"These numbers may well lead to the introduction of the army to support the Zimbabwe police, which, as the Foreign Office have commented on in the past, use brute force to quell demonstrations."
The ICC technical committee, if satisfied that a team has a reasonable case for boycotting a World Cup fixture because of security concerns, can order the four points for the match be shared.
Below are the six men who comprise the committee:
Ali Bacher, South Africa: World Cup executive director and captain of the last team to play official Test cricket during the apartheid era. He is responsible for the tournament's format, including giving six games to Zimbabwe and two to Kenya.
Malcolm Speed, Australia: ICC chief executive. The ICC has maintained that it is concerned solely with security and not political or moral issues.
Sunil Gavaskar, India: Chairman of the ICC cricket committee. The Asian countries support playing in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Michael Holding, West Indies: The world's fastest bowler in the late 1970s and now a television commentator. A man of independent views, he announced he would not commentate on any West Indies matches after the appointment of Carl Hooper as captain.
Campbell Jamieson, Australia: ICC commercial manager. One of several Australians involved in cricket's governing body.
Brian Basson, South Africa: A former umpire who was involved in formulating the World Cup schedule.
Shane Warne has said that Australia have a psychological hold on South Africa.
The defending champions will not face South Africa during the first phase, but the countries are tipped to meet in the semifinals or final.
He said, "The results in the different forms [of the game] and the major fixtures we've played against them prove that.
"When it's got to the crunch, we've managed to beat them. We've also come back to win when they've been the side in a winning position."
Had one of South Africa's World Cup matches been scheduled in Zimbabwe, Gary Kirsten says he would not have played there.
The veteran South African opening batsman said at a charity function on Thursday night that he believed there is a 'security issue' around matches in Zimbabwe.
England and Australia are scheduled to play World Cup matches in Zimbabwe and, although players from both sides requested the matches be switched to South Africa because of their concerns over security, the ICC on Thursday ruled that the games in Zimbabwe will go ahead as planned.
"Politics should be left to the politicians. But I would not play in Zimbabwe... there is a security issue," he said.
Cash-strapped New Zealand Cricket faces possible penalties of up $2million for refusing to play their World Cup match in Kenya.
Should NZC lose an appeal to have the February 21 fixture against Kenya moved to South Africa because of terrorism fears, the Kiwis would not only lose two points for forfeiting the match but would be forced to pay heavy commercial compensation to the broadcast rights holders.
Australia's cricketers will not be placed in the position of making moral and political judgements over meeting Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe.
The World Cup champions have been assured that politicians will not come into contact with players during the 54 World Cup matches scheduled for South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Growing fears that Australia's players would be used as propaganda by Mugabe in an attempt to legitimise his widely condemned regime were dismissed by tournament organisers following Australia's arrival in South Africa.
Ali Bacher said only a few politicians from South Africa will be at the opening ceremony in Cape Town next Saturday.
"It's policy, it's definite," an emphatic Bacher said.
Pakistan vice-captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has been the butt of jokes at grounds around the world because of his weight, has unveiled his new slim-line look.
The batsman, who played a crucial role in Pakistan's World Cup triumph in 1992, said that he had lost 23 pounds in the last six months.
"I want to look the same as I looked during the 1992 World Cup -- a shy and thin boy," smiled Inzamam who boasts an international one-day record of 8,939 runs from 284 games at 39.20.
"It has taken a lot of sacrifice to lose weight, but then if I had to be in the best of shapes, I had to do it.
"After all, this World Cup means a lot not only to me but to 140 million people back home who expect me to perform," Inzamam said at the Wanderers on Friday.
"I'm sure I will not be criticised for my weight this time. I feel fresh and more athletic after having lost the weight. I can feel there is a huge difference between the Inzamam of today and Inzamam of maybe six months ago. I have had long nets and fielding sessions and I don't feel tired at all."
Malcolm Speed has said that he will review the structure of match-fixing penalties when the World Cup ends in March.
The statement comes days after the Delhi high court exonerated former India player Ajay Jadeja from a five-year ban handed down in December 2000. The Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council will have to lift the ban before the 31-year-old can play again, Speed said.
Former Pakistan players Salim Malik and Ata-ur Rehman, together with former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin, are challenging life bans for rigging matches. Nine players have received bans in total, five of them for life.
"I'm concerned," Speed said in an interview. "I would certainly prefer that the position in relation to match-fixing and penalties was much simpler. It's something we'll deal with."
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's opening batsman, has vowed to back his natural instincts and continue a high-risk strategy of all-out attack against the new ball during the World Cup.
During the recent tours to South Africa and Australia, the 33-year-old left-hander had concentrated on survival during the first 15 overs of the innings.
The suitability of his technique to the fast, bouncy pitches that predominate in Australia and South Africa was openly doubted and there was even consideration that he slip back down order.
"I was not desperate but it was very disappointing," revealed Jayasuriya after his return to Colombo. "We were all mentally down, especially after that game against Australia A when we were bowled out for 65 -- it was only natural to be so."
The Delhi police, who had accused late South African captain Hansie Cronje of fixing matches in 2000, have warned that cheats are still active in South Africa.
India's key investigator, who trapped Cronje, also said South Africa had offered little cooperation to help the Delhi police pursue the case.
The warning from Delhi Police Special Commissioner KK Paul came amid rising worries in domestic security circles that the eruption of large-scale illegal betting in India could prompt rigging of some Cup matches.
V V S Laxman of Hyderabad will lead a 15-member India A squad that will participate in the Carib Beer Cricket Series [formerly known as Busta Cup] in the West Indies from February 8 to March 17.
BCCI secretary S K Nair said on Friday that former Test cricketer Ashok Malhotra will be the coach on the tour where the A team will play six four-day matches against Barbados [Feb 8-11], Leeward Islands [Feb 14-17], Trinidad [Feb 21-24], Windward Islands [Feb 28-March 3], Guyana [March 7-10] and Jamaica [March 14-17].
"We had requested the the West Indies Cricket Board to defer the India A team's outing by a few days, as the players would be busy playing in Ranji Trophy matches scheduled from February 1-4 and the WICB agreed to it," Nair added.
The team: V V S Laxman [captain], Akash Chopra, Connor Williams, Gautam Gambhir, A T Rayudu, Abhijit Kale, Hemang Badani, Rakesh Patel, Avishkar Salvi, L Balaji, Tinu Yohannan, Ajay Ratra, Murali Kartik, Amit Mishra and J P Yadav. Coach: Ashok Malhotra.
Even if they don't win a single match in South Africa, Canada will be more than happy just to wipe out one of the sport's less flattering records.
Back in 1979, they made their only other appearance in the World Cup and were horribly outclassed by England where they were skittled out for just 45 -- the lowest total in a finals.
This time around, Canada, who qualified by finishing third at the ICC Trophy in 2001, are making all the right noises and have experienced West Indian campaigner Gus Logie as coach.
Bangladesh are not even dreaming of winning the World Cup in South Africa, just aiming for a couple of victories to end a long run of dismal performances.
Bangladesh, who have won just three of their 61 one-dayers, are searching for their first success since the 1999 World Cup in England after suffering a record 26 consecutive defeats.
"Our prime target is to win against Kenya and Canada, as we are aware of the realities," said Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud.
Sydney looms as the big winner of a packed international cricket schedule with the SCG likely to host two Test matches next summer.
In a bid to comply with the ICC's 10-year plan to iron out anomalies in Test programming, Australia will host three opponents in the latter half of this year.
In addition to the two-Test series against Bangladesh, scheduled for July in Darwin and Cairns, Australia are preparing to host India for four Tests in December and January as well as a third team most likely Zimbabwe for two Tests in October.
India are expected to play Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Zimbabwe [or if they are unavailable, Sri Lanka] are likely to be scheduled for Tests in Perth and Sydney, and then return to Australia in January for the triangular one-day series.
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