The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aussies plan to experiment with batting order

Potchefstroom: Michael Bevan hopes to make a his presence felt at the World Cup when defending champions Australia take on minnows Namibia in a group A match on Thursday.

The left-hander has not had a chance to bat, bowl or take a catch in the four matches so far which Australia won easily to become the first team to book a place in the Super Sixes.

Victories over Namibia and England at Port Elizabeth on Sunday will see Australia end the preliminary league as the only side with an all-win record.

With a semi-final berth almost sealed, the world champions will look to experiment.

Bevan was padded up to come in next when Darren Lehmann and Damien Martyn hit half-centuries to guide the champions home by seven wickets against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo on Monday.

The one-day specialist could, however, get his chance to bat Thursday after captain Ricky Ponting indicated he may elevate Bevan from his customary number six place in the order against Namibia.

“We’ll have to think about that, for sure,” Ponting said after the Zimbabwe romp.

“Another game has gone by without Bevo having a hit. That was the only thing that was disappointing to come out of the game. We’ve played four games and he hasn’t had a bat yet, so we’ll have to look at that.”

Bevan though was not worried at having to cool his heels in the pavilion. “There’ no doubt I’ll get my opportunity to play a batting role soon,” he said.

“Batting at number six gives me the opportunity to bat in a number of different situations and I’m sure Ill be at the crease at some stage. The top order is performing extremely well and that is helping us win games.”

This is not the first time that Bevan has had nothing to do.

During the 1996 World Cup in the Indian sub-continent, he did not get to bat till the semi-finals, but the lack of match practice was not a hindrance.

As Australia were reduced to four for 15 by the West Indies in the 1996 semi-final in Mohali, Bevan stepped in to hit 69 and guide his team to a competitive 207.

The West Indies fell short by five runs and in the final against Sri Lanka in Lahore, Bevan contributed an unbeaten 36 off 49 balls but could not save his side from defeat.

Besides trying to find some work for Bevan, the Australian captain was also worried at his bowlers’ inability to stop runs in the slog overs after Zimbabwe recovered from 142/6 to 246/9.

Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie bore the brunt of a powerful assault from Andy Blignaut who plundered eight boundaries and two sixes in 54 off 28 balls.

“We didn’t bowl well at the end,” Ponting said. “Brett was not at his best then. We’ve got some work to do there. It has been a bit of a problem of ours over the last couple of years, bowling at the death.

“We’ve got to go away and work on that and make sure it’s a bit sharper the next time we play.”

Meanwhile, Namibia, playing their first World Cup, are still recovering from a 181-run battering by India on Sunday in which Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly hit centuries.

Namibian captain Deon Kotze brushed aside the prospect of another heavy defeat, saying his team was excited at the chance to play against the best team in the world.

“It can’t get better than this,” Kotze said.


Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist, Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Jason Gillespie, Ian Harvey, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Andy Symonds, Nathan Hauritz.

Namibia: Deon Kotze (capt), Jan Burger, Louis Burger, Sarel Burger, Morne Karg, Daniel Keulder, Bjorn Kotze, Lennie Louw, Bryan Murgatroyd, Gerrie Snyman, Stefan Swanepoel, Burton van Rooi, Melt van Schoor, Rudi van Vuuren, Riaan Walters.

Umpires: Russel Tiffin (Zim) and Billy Bowden (NZ)

Third umpire: Neil Mallender (Eng)

Match Referee: Gundappa Viswanath (Ind).

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