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ACB mulls fly-in, fly-out possibility

Johannesburg: The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) is considering fly-in/fly-out option as one of the ways to honour its commitment to play their World Cup league match in Zimbabwe, it was revealed Wednesday.

Australia have expressed their apprehension over the security situation in Zimbabwe but, unlike England, they have not requested the ICC to shift the Bulawayo venue of their February 24 match out of the country.

ACB chief executive James Sutherland said the players Wednesday voiced serious concerns at a meeting with Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jonathan Brown, in Potchefstroom and inquired about the possibility of rescheduling the match.

Sutherland said the option of Australia flying into Zimbabwe on the morning of the game and then flying back to South Africa at night was very much a possibility. “I wouldn’t want to rule anything out,” Sutherland added.

“At the moment we’ve got a programme that shows us coming in three or fours days beforehand. But there’s no denying we need to explore other contingencies if that’s the appropriate course.”

“There’s no hiding the fact that the players do have some concerns about Zimbabwe and what we’re trying to do is make sure that they have as much information as possible in front of them before we go to Zimbabwe,” Sutherland said.

Aussies wary of Pak

Australia are preparing for the toughest of starts to their title defence against unpredictable Pakistan on Tuesday in a repeat of the 1999 final. Although Australia have won 10 of the 15 one-day matches between the sides since their crushing eight-wicket victory at Lord’s four years ago, Pakistan were the last team to win a limited-overs series against the world champions.

“It’s definitely a danger match for us,” Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said. “Any team will look at their first game as being one that can potentially set up the tournament for them.

“Against a really unpredictable Pakistani line-up we will have to be on our toes,” Gilchrist added. “We know them when they are playing well and they aren’t playing well, so we’ll just have to make sure we are preparing for them when they are in form.”

Captain Ricky Ponting is determined to avoid the slow start they made to the 1999 tournament, losing two of their first three games against New Zealand and Pakistan.

“Our first two games are against Pakistan and India, who are going to be two of the better sides right through the World Cup, so it’s really important for us that we get off to a much better start than we did in 1999,” Ponting said.

“We were behind the eight-ball for most of the World Cup...and we don’t want to be in that situation again.”

Australia’s preparations have gone smoothly, the world champions losing only two of their last 15 one-day Internationals before arriving in South Africa last week.

“The guys have been playing some good cricket,” fast bowler Glenn McGrath said. “But we won’t be taking Pakistan lightly because they are a little bit of an unpredictable team.

“They’ve got a lot of very good individual players who can turn a match any day. We’ll be ready for that. They are a bit hot and cold. If you get a cold day you can wipe them, if you get a hot day they can do anything.”

Anwar threat

“We know what a good player Anwar is,” McGrath said. “He’s certainly one of their biggest threats and we’ll be trying to get him back in the shed early.

Gilchrist thinks the games against Pakistan and India will set the tone for Australia.

“It could give us a real launching pad for the rest of the series but if the results don’t go our way it can put you in a real dog-fight for the rest of the tournament,” he said.

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