| Matthew Hayden practises in front of a covered pitch at the North West Stadium in Potchefstroom Wednesday. (Reuters)
Potchefstroom: Australia coach John Buchanan says rain could force his side to change their plans for the World Cup Group A match against Holland on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Buchanan indicated fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee might be rested for the world champions’ game against Roland Lefebvre’s part-timers.
However, heavy rain over the past four days has increased the likelihood of damp and seamer-friendly conditions and Australia’s coach hinted that one of the two pacemen might play after all.
“Our desire is to rest one or two of the quicks,” he told said on Wednesday. “But, if the weather continues like this, it may affect the final make-up of our team and our options.
“It might mean our spin bowling options decrease and it may force us to increase our pace bowling options, but we will wait until the morning of the match to finalise that.”
The rain, which forced both sides to practice indoors on Wednesday, has placed a question mark over the game, although the ground has so far coped well with the amount of water.
If the match is rained off, it will rob Australia of a near-certain four points they would have expected to collect without too many problems. Should that happen, though, Buchanan said he would still be against the idea of reserve days for the group stage of the competition.
“If we had reserve days, we could be here for another two or three months extra and I’m not sure if that would be good for anyone,” he said.
“There is the logistics of moving television equipment, getting teams around and ticketing. The simple solution is rain days but I’m not sure it is the most effective one for the teams or the tournament.”
If the players do make it on to the field on Thursday, the contest is expected to be a mismatch but the Australia coach believes his team’s third Cup outing will still produce some positives.
“We will set ourselves a few things batting, bowling and fielding, with the outcomes helping towards our next match against Zimbabwe and the rest of the tournament,” Buchanan said.
Australia will finalise their side on the morning of the match but, whatever the weather, wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist seems certain to be rested with Jimmy Maher deputising behind the stumps.
Meanwhile, Holland decided a mix of white-water rafting and game-viewing would be the best preparation for the match on Thursday.
The Holland captain readily acknowledges the gap in skill levels between sides like his and established Test teams like Australia.
“Fielding you can work on but batting and bowling — the intensity, pace and aggression — it is difficult for us,” he said.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Ian Harvey, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds.
Holland (from): Roland Lefebvre (capt.), Luuk van Troost, Daan van Bunge, Jacob Esmeijer, Victor Grandia, Feiko Kloppenburg, Tim de Leede, Henk Mol, Klaus van Noortwijk, Adeel Raja, Edgar Schiferli, Reinhout Scholte, Jeroen Smits, Nick Statham, Bas Zuiderent.
Umpires: David Orchard (SA), Peter Willey (Eng). Third umpire: Aleem Dar (Pak).
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).