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February 04, 2003 16:04 IST
Western Province's blonde beanpole Dean Grobbelaar relished the chance of bowling at international cricketers in the nets, but wasn't about to be overawed by the occasion. 'I was nervous, but you can't just let them dominate you,' Grobbelaar explained.
The 16 year old who plays in Durbanville's Stellenberg Under-17 A side is a useful medium pacer and was certainly one of the many youngsters who gave the South African team some good batting practice on Monday, skipper Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis in particular.
'I bowled a wide ball which Shaun drove powerfully and he told me, "that's not your best ball." The next ball I bowled, he played and missed, and I told him, "that's not your best shot!"'
Pollock put the teenager in his place, smashing the next ball out of the nets and almost out of the ground.
With his tail up, Grobbelaar took on an even bigger fish, hitting Kallis on the hand. His first reaction to hitting Kallis was 'cool,' but later he said: 'I felt bad, although I don't normally when I'm playing, but it was his bowling hand and I thought, 'I can't injure South Africa's most important player before the World Cup.'
England all-rounder Craig White has been given an extra two days to prove his fitness for the World Cup.
The 33 year old did not play in England's warm-up match against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. But he is expected to feature in the second warm-up game, versus Border, on Thursday.
White has been struggling with a side strain all winter and it has taken him longer than expected to recover.
He said he was 'reasonably confident' he would be fully fit for the World Cup. 'I have been bowling in the nets but that is not the same as bowling in the middle. It was a bad injury for a bowler to get but I am reasonably confident I will be fit.'
South Africa's vice-captain Mark Boucher acknowledged the side was 'embarrassed' by the seven-wicket thumping they were given by Western Province in Bellville and vowed to get even when the teams meet on Thursday.
'It was not nice to lose, but I think it's a good thing and a bit of a wake-up call,' said Boucher. 'I'm saying now there's no doubt we are going to win the next two games and produce much better performances. The guys were pretty hurt, but it's good to hurt every now and then.'
'We are the national side and you don't like losing to any provincial side. It's embarrassing, but it's not necessarily a bad thing to happen. You don't want to peak too early, there's still plenty of balls to bowl and hit before the World Cup gets underway,' he said.
'We've seen what the newspapers have been saying after we lost to Province, but our actions will speak on Thursday. We were disappointed, but a lot of guys will realise we're quite rusty. They (Province) have just come off a lot of cricket and our bodies are still recovering from our "concentration camp" in Drakensberg.'
Jacques Kallis has a painful toe injury.
He struck a delivery directly onto his left big toe in the nets, but batted on. But he woke up on Monday barely able to walk, with his toe badly swollen and bleeding under the nail bed.
Before team doctor Shane Jabaar started treating him, he called for an x-ray to determine the extent of the injury. Fortunately, it revealed no break or fracture, but the 'deep bruising' was enough for Jabaar to recommend that Kallis sit out Tuesday's Boland match.
Opener Herschelle Gibbs was also hit on the right shoulder blade.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said Jason Gillespie (elbow) and Glenn McGrath (back) have recovered from their injuries.
On Monday, the pair looked comfortable and in good spirits during a net session.
Bevan is about 50 percent recovered from the Grade 1 tear he suffered to his right adductor while taking a run against England at Melbourne during the second Victoria Bitter Series final 10 days ago.
'It's progressing pretty well, but when I'll be able to play I'm not too sure,' said Bevan. 'I guess it's a toss-up between the first match and the second match. At this stage, I'm saying I'm probably 50/50 for the Pakistan game (next Tuesday). I'd like to think I will be fit for the India match (on February 15). The World Cup's a big tournament, and I'd like to be 100 percent when I play.'
Although Australia stopped short of barring its cricket team from playing in Zimbabwe, its foreign office said Australians should avoid large public gatherings and public demonstrations with protests likely at the World Cup games.
'Heavy police responses to past protests in Zimbabwe have resulted in injury to protesters and innocent bystanders,' the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a travel warning issued on Monday. 'Australians should take particular precautions to avoid any such protests or other political activity.'
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor hopes New Zealand's decision to boycott its World Cup match against Kenya will not rob them of a spot in the final.
The decision could cost New Zealand $2 million in compensation. The Kiwis will lose two points for forfeiting the game unless they successfully appeal to have the match shifted to South Africa.
Having experienced a similar situation in 1996 when Australia boycotted a World Cup game in Sri Lanka, Taylor said the move should not decide the tournament's outcome.
'I just hope sides aren't grossly disadvantaged if they make that statement because at the end of the day you want a World Cup where the best side wins, not the side that gets some sort of head start,' Taylor said.
Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya, holds the key to his team's fortunes in South Africa, not only as a batsman but also as captain and left-arm spinner. He has been playing the triple-role for the past three years, achieving more success at home than abroad.
He believes a good start to the Cup will help his team better the overseas record. 'Starting the tournament well is crucial,' said Jayasuriya, sixth-highest scorer in the world with 8,645 runs and 15 centuries. 'The first game against New Zealand is an early opportunity to get the confidence going.'
'New Zealand will be tough opponents because they have some fine one-day players who are well suited to the conditions,' he said. Sri Lanka clash with Stephen Fleming's New Zealanders in their opening match on February 10 at Bloemfontein. Other teams in the group are South Africa, the West Indies, Kenya, Bangladesh and Canada.
All-rounder Kapil Dev feels the present Indian team has the capability to win the World Cup.
'This team has the strength and the capability to win the World Cup,' Kapil said.
'Lots of people may have doubts about this team, but I feel if my team of 1983, which had heavy odds against it can win it, why can't this team, which has 3-1 or something,' he added.
Giving his vote of confidence to Sourav Ganguly's youthful team, he said, 'It (a win) is something only these 15 guys can do. They will have to pull it off for themselves and for everybody else in the country.'