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Cricket World Cup 2003 !

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Note: Source will be different kinds medias and News papers from around the world.



ICC rejects England's plea to shift Zimbabwe match


England's bid to have its February 13 World Cup opening match against Zimbabwe in Harare moved to South Africa on safety grounds has been rejected by the tournament's technical committee here.

But despite a four-hour marathon meeting on Thursday, attended by both England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tim Lamb and Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) president Peter Chingoka and their legal advisors, the committee's decision may not be the end of the matter.


England can appeal against the decision to two of the independent commissioners, Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa or Justice Richard Otieno Kwach of Kenya, sitting alone.


The third commissioner, Justice Ahmed Ebrahim of Zimbabwe, a former International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee, will not be called upon because his country is involved in the dispute.


Any appeal must be lodged in writing within three hours of the committee's decision. The commissioner's verdict is final.


ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed has said matches can be moved as late as four days in advance of their scheduled date.


"It was the unanimous view that the request of the ECB to shift the match out of Zimbabwe be declined," Speed told reporters after the meeting.



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Edited by Shivani Shahi

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At last, the cricket!


After being subjected to glitzy, often bizarre, even melodramatic hype to the 2003 World Cup back home, things seem very different here. The South Africans, like the Indians, are also playing for the ‘pride of the nation’ but the hype is much more muted and the advertising blitz subdued.


At the moment, the hosts of cricket’s biggest and longest (44-day) extravaganza are struggling with problems more political than sporting. With less than 24 hours to go for the opening ceremony and another 48 for the first ball to be bowled, no one is sure whether England will play in Zimbabwe or not. And despite Australia’s saying they will play, doubts over whether the favourites will finally fly to Zimbabwe, persist.


It speaks of the political times we live in and the inextricable link they have with sports and the commerce of sport that the World Cup, over the past few months, has hurtled from one crisis to another. At first, it was the contracts row in which the Indian superstars — struggling to beat even club sides here --- showed rare unity and forced the Indian Board and the ICC to bow down to their diktat. Not that the controversy is over but the fight will be continue only once the Cup is done with, and thank god for such small mercies.


Then, came the news that Australia, England and New Zealand were unhappy about matches being scheduled in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The black “tyrant”, as the world loves to call him, has not only frightened the whites but his own tribesmen as well. Blacks too feel threatened and want the Mugabe regime to be taught a lesson. A cricketing boycott may not achieve much but it still can be construed as the most potent symbol of protest from the sporting fraternity. That is what Nasser Hussain and his men want to prove to the world. Whether they finally achieve that end might not be important but what will stand out in the years to come, will be the rare courage a group of players would have shown.


The chaos and uncertainty which this issue has created here could be gauged from the fact that on Thursday evening, the ICC brass was huddled for over five hours in Cape Town’s finest hotel trying to untangle this vexed issue. Whatever finally happens, and even if England forfeit their points, one thing is certain. The World Cup will go on. And once the first ball is bowled at the Newlands on Sunday afternoon, cricket, hopefully, will take centrestage.


That is what millions of fans are waiting for despite the fact that one-day cricket has been played to death by a set of overzealous officials, for whom players are robots and made to perform endlessly without a break. From a purely cricketing angle, it is this overkill that threatens this World Cup. All the teams have played so much cricket over the past year, that they appear jaded, fatigued and many key players are struggling with injury.


Australia, the team everyone fears, might not play to their form and potential. South Africa, who can win the championship not only because they are playing at home but also because they have the skill to do so, may still fail to cross the final hurdle because of the fatigue and injury factor. The Indians, who were considered strong outsiders before the disastrous tour of New Zealand, do not seem to have the mental and physical strength to qualify for even the Super Six. England have flown here without a single day’s rest after a gruelling series in Australia. Perhaps a boycott suits them best.


All this may read like a soothsayer’s prophecy of doom but this is just to send a cautious warning to those who might expect but not get, to see a Cup full of thrilling cameos, exciting finishes, breathtaking batting innovations and awe-inspiring athletic skills. If, despite the odds stacked against it, this World Cup ignites the imagination of fans, it will be more a tribute to a sportsman’s perennial desire for excellence, than anything else



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England appeal rejected


England's bid to have their World Cup match against Zimbabwe moved has been rejected.


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had launched an appeal after their plea to switch Thursday's game to South Africa was rejected by the International Cricket Council's (ICC) technical committee.


But on Friday Judge Albie Sachs, a member of the South African constitutional court, dismissed England's safety fears and backed the ICC's stance.


Sachs said: "I have not been persuaded that the decision of the technical committee was wrong.


"It would be bad for the game in Zimbabwe for any of the matches to be relocated unless the need to do so was very clear."


Answering the ECB's fears over an outbreak of violence, he added: "The dangers of such an eventuality are not sufficient to justify the relocation of the fixture to South Africa."


England's players met with ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed to discuss the official safety plan, the Kroll report, prior to Sachs' announcement.


And Speed described the players' mood as "agitated" over the Zimbabwe match.


The team can now decide to either play the game in Harare, as arranged, or forfeit the match and lose four points.


A refusal to play could leave the ECB facing a heavy fine, and threaten this summer's tour to England by the Zimbabweans.


ECB chief executive Tim Lamb confirmed: "There will be a players meeting. Things will become clear after that."


No final decision is expected to be made by England on Friday.


But Zimbabwe Cricket Union president Peter Chingoka remained confident the game would go ahead.


"I have a hope they will come," said Chingoka, welcoming Sachs' ruling.


He added: "We are very pleased. We are anxious to have all six games going ahead in Zimbabwe."


The debate over Thursday's game has cast a shadow over the six-week tournament, which starts on Sunday when South Africa face the West Indies.


New Zealand, meanwhile, have refused to play their World Cup match against Kenya on 21 February due to safety fears.



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Samuels allowed to join the Windies: World Cup


The International Cricket Council on Friday allowed West Indies to reinstate batsman Marlon Samuels to its 15-man World Cup squad.


Samuels was withdrawn from the original squad following a knee complaint and replaced by left-hander Ryan Hinds before the former world champions left for South Africa.


Samuels, the 22-year-old Jamaican right-hander, was given late medical clearance to play in the six-week tournament in spite of his troublesome left knee.


Mark Harrison, ICC communications manager, confirmed the decision to The Associated Press by telephone.


Initial medical reports suggested the promising batsman, a key member of the West Indies' middle-order, would be out for at least three months, needing corrective surgery and a bone graft. But the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) received more positive news about his injury and made a formal request to the ICC requesting that Samuels be reinstated.


Samuels will join the rest of the squad on Sunday after flying in from Kingston, Jamaica.


It is not known whether he'll be considered for selection for the day/night tournament opener against host nation South Africa at Newlands on the same day.


The ICC's six-man technical committee, headed by Malcolm Speed, discussed the West Indies' application and formally cleared Samuels to replace Hinds.


"We are pleased with the decision of the technical committee and we are now looking forward to Marlon joining the squad and giving of his best for West Indies," said Michael Hall, the chief cricket operations officer of the WICB.


Samuels, who has played 39 one-dayers, has scored 1,087 runs including a top score of an unbeaten 108 off just 77 balls in the recent one-day series against India in the Indian southern city of Vijayawada.



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Arrogant? No, we're just confident, say Australia


Australia's World Cup squad attempted to make peace with South African fans Friday, saying the team's confidence was often mistaken as arrogance.


Many South Africans, awaiting Saturday's start of cricket's mega event, dislike the Australians for what they say is their arrogant behaviour on and off the field.


But fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee sought to downplay that image a day ahead of the opening ceremony at Cape Town.


"We probably come across as being arrogant but in fact most people confuse it with self-confidence," McGrath told the Citizen newspaper.


"However, if people perceive me as being arrogant then I'm doing my job on the field.


"Arrogant people say and do things they can't back up. We always back up what we say."


Lee agreed with his team mate's assertion, saying Australians were generaly very confident people.


"We as a cricket team care about the opposition and are always the first ones to go and shake hands with them," Lee said.


"Arrogant people would not do that.


"Sure we play our cricket hard but we also play it fair. You need to be confident if you want to be a better player."


Australia are regarded as favourites to become the first team to successfully defend the World Cup title.


But South Africa are thirsting for revenge after being knocked out in the semi-finals four years ago following a nerve wrecking tie against the Australians.



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Hayden targets Shoaib threat


Defending champions Australia believe that Pakistan speed king Shoaib Akhtar is the man they must subdue if they are to get the defence of their Cricket World Cup crown off to a flying start when the two sides clash here next week.


The two bitter rivals meet at the Wanderers on Tuesday with the Aussies pinpointing the deadly pace and swing of Shoaib as the keys to the highy-charged Group A game.


"When we bat, our main aim has to be to try to blunt the early threat of Shoaib Akhtar," opening batsman Matthew Hayden told Britain's Daily Telegraph on Friday.


"His threat is two-pronged. First, Pakistan look to his explosive pace for breakthroughs with the new ball, openings that can then be exploited by Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.


"Then, he will come back later and look to use his pace allied with reverse swing, as he did so well together with Wasim, when Pakistan beat us in a World Cup group match at Headingley four years ago.


"He and I have had some great recent battles and he is a dangerous player. But one thing I will not be doing is biting back. It is not my style to get into a war of words with another player in print and, in any case, my priority is to let my bat do the talking."


Hayden admitted that if he and his free-scoring colleagues can quell the early assault from the Pakistan pace trio, then half the battle will be won.


"Shoaib's style of bowling means he will rarely be at you for a long spell and three or four overs will usually be his norm. If we can see him off and even use his pace to our advantage as batsmen, then that will be a huge plus for us."


Despite the threat posed by the Pakistan pace attack, Australia are still hoping that the match will be played on a fast Wanderers track.


"Pakistan represent a massive challenge for us as we will have to subdue their immense individual talents, a tall order if the match is played on a slow surface that will suit their style of play more than ours," added Hayden.


"We must ensure they do not get off to a flying start with either bat or ball. If we can do that, we can control the match.


"When we bowl that will almost certainly involve the early removal of Shahid Afridi.


"If he gets going it makes the job of players like Younis Khan, Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana that much easier as they will be able to play themselves in with the field spread rather than coming in with our fast bowlers fresh and the ball new."



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First two matches vital for India: Ganguly


Putting behind the recent failures in New Zealand, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly is confident of his own ability and that of his team's to do well in the World Cup here, but believes the opening games against Holland and Australia will be vital.


"The opening two games (against Holland and Australia) are absolutely vital. It would give us a fair idea and it could put us on a roll. I am eagerly looking forward for the tournament to unfold," Ganguly said today.


Though the first game against minnows Holland on February 12 is expected to be a cakewalk for the Indians, Ganguly would be keeping his fingers crossed when the team takes on the mighty Australians on February 15.


Ganguly would be fervently praying for his side's success in the mega event as it could be a watershed in Indian cricket in more ways than one -- if India do well, Ganguly would remain at the helm of affairs and if they don't the famous Machiavellian politics of Indian cricket would once again effect a bloodless coup.


However, Ganguly who is not fatalistic by temperament, does believe whatever has to happen would happen in due course and it does not serve any purpose to keep worrying all the time.


"Destiny plays an important role in one's life. I never thought I would play for India again and I never thought I would captain India in three years time," said Ganguly. "So whatever is destined would happen in due course."


Already, the theatre of World Cup has drawn curtains on the careers of at least three illustrious Indian captains in the past -- Srinivas Venkataraghavan in 1979, Kapil Dev in 1987 and Mohammed Azharuddin in 1999.


The previous experiences suggest nothing less than a title win would help Ganguly keep at bay the hounds. Venkataraghavan was informed on the plane back home he was not the captain any more, Kapil Dev was sacked even though India had reached the semi-finals and Azharuddin was done away with after India lost in the Super Six stage in 1999.


Ganguly, however, said he has never fussed over captaincy adding over the years he had matured as a captain.


"I haven't fussed about captaincy during my career for personal reasons," he said.


"My only concern has been to see the team do well and bring laurels for the country."


The left-handed batsman not only finds an uneasy crown on his head but he also needs to pull his weight in the team as a batsman to keep his illustrious international career going.


Ganguly suffered the worst failure of his career in New Zealand recently where he mustered less than hundred runs from four Tests and seven one-day innings. The prospects of coming to South Africa offers him his best chance to strike back form for it was here that he blazed his way to a successful triangular one-day series in 2001.


"I had good success on these wickets last time around and it was largely because I could use the elevation of bouncing balls and hit through the line to clear the infield," said Ganguly.


"It could happen because the wickets were true, the bounce was true and you knew what a ball was going to do.


"The case in New Zealand was entirely different. It was not of true bounce, there was excessive sideways movement and sometimes you could be through with your shot and the ball hadn't still arrived."


As if the clouds over his captaincy and his batting were not enough, Ganguly has also drawn criticism in recent times over his slow-footed movement on the field. According to sources, BCCI's diktat for "hard nets" two times a day before the team took the plane to South Africa was primarily aimed at the Indian captain.




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Ganguly was not bothered by such criticism but said he was fitter now under the physical regimen of trainer Adrian le Roux. "It couldn't have happened if I was lazy.


"Le Roux has been very good to all the boys. You only have to look at Sachin (Tendulkar), (Anil) Kumble, Rahul (Dravid), Zaheer (Khan) or me to realise how much body mass the team has shed in recent months."


As pressure on Ganguly has mounted, he appears to have withdrawn into a shell and has not indulged in trademark aggression which has been the feature of his captaincy.


If India have to do well, Ganguly has to be at his fighting best as a batsman to provide focus to a young team in a difficult tournament and wrest back his waning respect as a leader.


Ganguly admitted he was now more comfortable with the leader's attire as he had come to know a lot more about captaincy than he did when he started out in late 2000.


"When I started out, it was a difficult time. A lot was happening in Indian and international cricket. Over the last three years, I have matured as a captain and tried to be fair to my team members."


But the 31-year-old Ganguly, leading India to victories in 13 Tests and 45 one-dayers, scorer of 4,100 Test runs and 8,255 one-day runs, knows this is a moment of reckoning. If he blinks, it could be all over.



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I would not be the only key to team's success: Tendulkar


Expectations of a cricket crazy nation ride on his shoulders, but Sachin Tendulkar today reminded his fans that cricket was a team game in which an individual can play a role "only upto a point".


With an outstanding record of 1059 runs at an average of 58.83 from 22 matches from three previous World Cups, the Indian genius would be the focus of the game's greatest bowlers when the World Cup tournament starts here on Sunday.


A modest man of few words, Tendulkar said he learnt early not to get swayed by public opinion and that he preferred to judge his performance by the standards he has set.


"I am happy as long as I know I gave off my best on a cricket field. I would rather judge myself in my own eyes," Tendulkar said.


"By thinking what others are feeling about you could only mean additional pressure on you. The demads of the game are stiff anyway."


And the master blaster is quietly confident of playing his role in the team's performance over the next few weeks.


Rival teams would be mistaken in believing the greatest batsman in one-day arena would not count for much for, Tendulkar is lurking in a corner, sizing up his opponents and neatly working out the best route to success.


"I am confident this is a balanced Indian side and would do well in the tournament," said Tendulkar while emphasising "I am not the only one who would be key to team's success."


"I have always believed it is a team game and a team only does well when everyone plays his part. An individual can play his role only up to a point," said Tendulkar, world's leading one-day batsman with 33 centuries and 56 fifties in his overall tally of 11,546 runs from 303 games at a brilliant strike rate of 86.4.


His figure of 523 runs from seven matches in the 1996 World Cup tournament is also the most made by any batsman in any of the previous seven editions of the tournament.


Tendulkar's importance is acknowledged by coach John Wright who said his presence in the side was always a morale-booster.


"It is not true the team panics when Tendulkar is missing from the roll but his presence is always a great boost to the general morale of the side," he said.


Tendulkar is no longer an all-out attacking batsman of his early days and the change has as much to do with the switch in his batting slot as it has to do with the better understanding of the demands of his craft.


He has also learnt over the years he has enough shots in his armoury to keep the scoreboard moving and does not need to dismiss every delivery out of his presence.


"It's not always you get balls to hit — sometimes it serves to just wait and bide your time," said Tendulkar.


He might have struggled at times to keep the right balance between attack and defence but his contemporaries would rather leave him to his own device than rush to offer a piece of advice.


"The last time I saw him on a cricket field was when he took the game away from us in the Kolkata Test with a sizzling century," said Carl Hooper, captain of the West Indies team and an unabashed admirer of the little champion.


"It did appear to me he was intent on playing more shots than he had for a long time," said Hooper.


Tendulkar inspires intense debate among cricket-crazy millions in India who dissect his performance after almost every delivery bowled to him.


The mega tournament inevitably is being built up as a showdown between Tendulkar and West Indian Brian Lara for the mantle of best batsman of the world.


There is also a great debate on how Tendulkar would come up against the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne of Australia and the classic encounter against Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar when the two bitter rivals meet for the first time on a cricket field in over two years.


"It's not McGrath versus me or likewise with others. There are 10 other players in a team and everyone else needs watching," said Tendulkar, deftly sidestepping the issue.



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Tendulkar, to start with, will now bat at number three and not at number four in the opening game against Holland at Paarl next Wednesday. He would be required to give the team momentum in the first 15 overs, should the opening combination of Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly fail to fire against the new-ball bowlers.


Fanie de Villiers and Pat Symcox, two of South Africa's leading cricket experts who in their playing days bowled at the little master and even enjoyed occasional success, firmly believe Tendulkar would be an automatic starter in their all-time one-day World XI.


But even they would have him at the top rather than waste his talent in the middle-order.


"Tendulkar would be number one batsman in our all-time favourite eleven," said Symcox. De Villiers added, "but for him no other Indian would figure in this eleven."


Compliments such as these or by England captain Nasser Hussain — "watching him sometimes is an education" — are only taken in stride gracefully by Tendulkar.


"It's always good to hear people say good things about you. But the real motivation comes from wearing country's colours and doing your best on a cricket field," he said.



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