| West Indies skipper Carl Hooper on the team’s arrival at Johannesburg Thursday. (AFP)
Johannesburg: The West Indies captain Carl Hooper said World Cup hosts South Africa should not underestimate his improving team, which landed here Thursday for cricket’s showpiece tournament.
“Shaun Pollock will realise that there is not a big gap between our two sides,” he said. “I believe we can go all the way, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.”
South Africa and the West Indies meet in the opening match of the tournament in Cape Town on February 9. The last time they met, in the Champions Trophy in Colombo in September, South Africa won by two wickets.
“We should have won that game,” Hooper said.
The West Indies gained positive momentum for the World Cup on their tour of India in November and December, when they lost the Test series 2-0 but bounced back to win the one-day rubber 4-3.
Hooper said, however, that the improvement in results against South Africa since their humiliating tour in 1998-99 was more instrumental in the West Indian resurgence.
“The last time we played South Africa in South Africa (in 1998-99) we were thumped (5-0 in the Test series and 6-1 in the one-day Internationals),” Hooper said.
“Since then we’ve played them in the Caribbean (in 2000-01), and things went well for us. We turned it around then and showed we can compete against the best in the world.”
South Africa won the Test series 2-1 and prevailed 5-2 in the limited-over games.
Hooper said their top batsman Brian Lara had fully recovered from his recent injury problems. “He’s back to full fitness and ready to go,” Hooper said.
Security official sacked
Organisers have sacked a World Cup security official who suggested squirting bleach in the faces of attackers in South Africa. Benedict Weaver, director of information for security firm Sport Security Management (SSM) which has a contract to provide bodyguards for the event, suggested attack was often the best form of defence.
He advised tourists to carry a water pistol filled with bleach to squirt in the eyes of hijackers in South Africa, which has one of the world’s worst rates of violent crime. Police dismissed his advice, posted on Indian website www.cricketnext.com, as “ridiculous and absurd”, and called on visitors to ignore it and instead to comply with attackers’ demands as the safest response.
“We have told them (SSM) that we don’t want anything further to do with this individual. We don’t want him to have any part in the Cricket World Cup,” event security chief Patrick Ronan said. (Reuters)