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February 06, 2003 18:03 IST
England players' chief Richard Bevan is confident that England's World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Harare will be switched to South Africa.
The International Cricket Council's technical committee will meet in Cape Town on Thursday to decide whether to uphold England's request to move the fixture.
The issue was further complicated on Wednesday when the Zimbabwe Cricket Union refused to play pool matches in South Africa.
But Roy Bennett of Zimbabwe's Movement of Democratic Change told that "people opposed to president Robert Mugabe would be killed" if cricket was staged in Harare and Bulawayo.
And Bevan, managing director of the Professional Cricketers' Association, is convinced that there is "compelling evidence" for the switch of venues.
"I think Roy's comments are very concerning," said Bevan.
The six men of the World Cup technical committee will not all have to agree for England's match to be moved from Zimbabwe.
England made an official request on Tuesday for their 13 February game to be moved to South Africa because of mounting concerns over security.
The matter was placed in the hands of a six-man committee, set up by the International Cricket Council and including its chief executive Malcolm Speed.
The group will meet in Cape Town on Thursday, and one sitting is expected to suffice for a majority verdict to be reached.
"The committee has a quorum of four and it can make a majority decision," ICC spokesman Brendan McClements said.
Australia have said they will not seek to have their World Cup match in Zimbabwe moved "at this stage".
Leading Australian players and team officials met with the Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
All parties were happy with the outcome, despite reports the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) was to be told Zimbabwe was unsafe for their players.
But Australia were quick to stress their decision was not final, pointing to the fact there is still almost three weeks until their game in Bulawayo on 24 February.
"At this stage, we are committed to playing in Zimbabwe," Australian Cricketers' Association chief Tim May stated.
A fine innings by Ehsanul Haque spearheaded a Bangladesh fight-back as they beat KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
Haque scored 92 and was ably assisted by Al Sahariar, who had 68 runs, but the win could not hide some limitations in their side.
Earlier, Bangladesh's bowling attack had been exposed as youngster Hashim Amla, who stroked 76 off 89 balls led the home side to a sizeable total.
Bangladesh 252-5 (46.1 overs) beat KwaZulu-Natal 251-6 (50)
South African Jacques Kallis insists he will be fully fit for the World Cup opener against West Indies despite a painful blow on the toe.
All-rounder Kallis was hit on his left big toe by a yorker during a net session last Sunday, causing severe swelling and bledding under the nail.
He played in the warm-up game against Boland on Tuesday but did not bowl, prompting speculation about the seriousness of the injury.
"My foot is fine. I can't wait to get out onto the Newlands turf for that first match," he said.
"There are so many guys in our team who can turn a match round very quickly, so I feel reall comfortable in our set-up.
"There is never a question in my mind that everything rests on my shoulders."
Metrorail has laid on special trains for the World Cup opening ceremony and the five day-night matches to be played at Newlands.
But there is a catch - cricket fans will have precisely half an hour from the end of each match to make their way through the masses to Newlands station to board a train.
Metrorail has identified Cape Town, Retreat, Bellville and Fish Hoek as the four park-and-ride stations to be used during the tournament.
Metrorail spokesperson Riana Jacobs said there would be one train to each of the four destinations after matches.
Jacobs said the trains would stop at all stations on the way to the park-and-ride stations, where a security contingent, comprising Metrorail security, the police, municipal police and neighbourhood watches, would ensure safe and secure parking.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela told England and New Zealand on Wednesday they should play their respective World Cup matches in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Mandela, said players should follow the instructions of the International Cricket Council, the sport's world ruling body.
"If they say cricketers must go to Zimbabwe, must go to Kenya, that is what they must do," he said.
"If we refuse to follow what the international body says, we introduce chaos in cricket."
Tickets for World Cup matches are selling at up to 20 times their face value, despite organisers' promises to make the tournament accessible for all fans.
Some ticket shop web sites were selling seats at the Johannesburg final for as much as R4 550 on Wednesday, a hike of almost two thousand percent over the original R225 fee advertised on the World Cup's official web site.
Prices for games -- most of which are already sold out -- are expected to rocket as the March 23 final approaches, in spite of warnings from competition organisers that anyone buying tickets from unauthorised dealers could lose their seats.
"People who buy from the scoundrels and the rogues must take their chances," Clifford Green, the lawyer acting for the World Cup, said.
New Zealand have not submitted a formal request for their World Cup match in Kenya to be switched despite refusing to play in Nairobi, the International Cricket Council confirmed on Wednesday.
New Zealand announced last month they would not play in Nairobi against Kenya because of security fears but, with just three days to the tournament's opening ceremony, they have yet to take the matter further.
ICC spokesman Brendan McClements said: "There has been no application from New Zealand."
They could appeal to the World Cup technical committee -- as England have done in an attempt to have their match in Zimbabwe moved -- or they take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a body based in Lausanne and set up to deal with major sporting disputes.
Time is running out, however, for the matter to go before that court.
With just two places in the South African playing XI up for grabs, it appears that Nicky Boje has virtually secured the spinning berth.
Boje looks set to edge his main rival Robin Peterson when the playing XI is announced this weekend.
The tussle, however, for the allrounder spot between Lance Klusener and Andrew Hall for South Africa's opening World Cup match against the West Indies is still to be resolved.
On Thursday, South Africa will play their final warm up match against Western Province and the side picked for that encounter will, as coach Eric Simons points out, be as close as possible to the side that turns out on Sunday.
Indian coach John Wright was delighted to see his key batsmen strike form ahead of the World Cup starting on Sunday, especially after their miserable show in New Zealand.
"It was good runout for the team, particularly with the four main run scorers all getting in and spending some welcome time in the middle," Wright said after India's rain-truncated warm-up match against Natal Dolphins at Pietermaritzburg.
"We were happy with the conditions... The pitch was a little bit slow but generally true and pretty similar to what we are used to back in India," Wright said.
However, Wright was unhappy with his bowlers not being able to get enough match practice.
"It was disappointing the bowlers didn't get more of a runout as they're all a bit rusty, but Anil Kumble looked in good form," the former New Zealand batsman said.
Struggling all-rounder Chris Cairns ruled out his chances of bowling in New Zealand's opening World Cup matches on Wednesday.
"I will be available to bat, but not bowl, from the start," he said.
"I contracted a rib injury, just on my comeback, four weeks ago. It's been just trying to manage that and get through it."
Cairns missed most of the 2002 season following two knee operations before making a cautious comeback as a specialist batsman in December.
Asked when he would be fit to bowl, he added: "I probably can't give a specific date, I'm just monitoring it day by day."
The United Cricket Board presented Shaun Pollock and his squad with a traditional African drum, known as a murumba. This symbolic gift, together with the Zulu shield presented by SABC at the Warriors of the Nation banquet in Cape Town last Saturday, represents the South African team's battle regalia.
The SA squad have been receiving messages of support and encouragement from all quarters of the nation. The murumba will accompany the team during the Cricket World Cup and fans are encouraged to beat the drum wherever it goes to demonstrate their support for our proudly South African squad. The players in turn will use the battle drum as part of their changeroom preparatory routine.
"It's inspiring to have these truly South African symbols to take around the country with us and to emphasise how Proudly South African we are," said Pollock.
Security at cricket's World Cup, which starts in South Africa this weekend, is in the hands of the man who guarded Nelson Mandela during his presidency.
Rory Steyn, a former policeman who headed Mandela's team of bodyguards from 1996 to 1998, is part of a security committee that must allay fears about everything from terrorist attacks in Kenya and South Africa to civil unrest in Zimbabwe.
"Nobody can be 100 per cent certain of anything these days, but we have a comprehensive plan," said Steyn, who is responsible for stadium security at all 15 stadiums during the seven-week event. "We've been planning this for 24 months."
The security team is spending $2 million to ensure Africa's first cricket World Cup is incident-free. It's banning vehicles within one kilometer (0.6 mile) of the stadiums, stationing walk-through metal detectors at all entrances, and using surveillance cameras to monitor spectators and identify fans who rush onto the playing field.
"We can see every part of that stadium, including the approaches," said the World Cup's security chief, Patrick Ronan. "We'll be using it to prevent problems such as brawling before they get out of hand."
South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs wishes Australia Test captain Steve Waugh was still in the one-day side so he could atone for one of the most embarrassing dropped catches in cricket history.
His error allowed Waugh to make a match-winning century, Australia going on to be crowned world champions after knocking out the South Africans following an extraordinary tied semi-final.
"Unfortunately, Steve's not going to be here this time," Gibbs said on Wednesday. "It would have been nice to may be catch him and win it this time."
"Australia are a great team but when we've played Australia in the past we've haven't done so as a unit," he said.
"This is the difference with the team a the moment, we're playing with a lot more spirit and playing a lot more for each other.
"I think people would love to see an Australia-South Africa final. It would a great chance to settle the scores."
The International Cricket Council has turned down a request by West Indies Cricket Board to let batsman Marlon Samuels rejoin the country's World Cup squad but West Indies are hopeful the matter could still be sorted out in their favour.
The West Indies were keen to include Samuels back into the squad after being forced to withdraw him following an injury on his left knee. Samuels has been given the medical clearance to participate in the six-week long tournament but ICC is citing rules which state that an injured player, once withdrawn, cannot rejoin the squad.
West Indies authorities are challenging the ICC decision, claiming that the relevant rules come into operation only after the start of the tournament.
Legendary West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding is also expected to raise the issue at the meeting of the World Cup technical committee on Thursday, of which he is an independent member. The committee, chaired by Speed, was likely to take a final decision on the fate of Samuels.
Pakistan batsman Saeed Anwar thought his World Cup was over before it had even begun after being hit by a swinging delivery from teammate Shoaib Akhtar.
Anwar, only just back into the team after a string of injuries, said on Wednesday: ''I thought I was in real trouble. I thought the left elbow was broken. I was immediately sick and felt nauseous."
''It was a swinging delivery in the nets and reared up a bit off the surface. A few deliveries had already gone over my head. It was the most painful blow I have ever had.''
Opening batsman Anwar, in his third World Cup, is still hoping to be fit for Pakistan's opening Group A match against Australia on February 11.
''I really want to play against the Aussies,'' he said. He was still icing the injury every two hours on Wednesday, two days after being struck and rushed to hospital.