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Curator’s crossed fingers

Port Elizabeth: Usually, captains and coaches are a hassled lot, especially on the eve of a World Cup semi-final. At St George’s Park, Monday, curator Adrian Carter had a much more creased forehead.

All, of course, owing to “concern” about the slow and low wickets in the four matches so far. “Look, the effort has been to produce good one-day wickets. However, conditions are such that...” the boyish Carter — he is only 29 — trailed off, while talking to The Telegraph.

Carter, though, was quick to remind that the quicks actually had a ball in the two games — Australia versus England and Australia against New Zealand — where the wicket was heavily criticised.

Andy Bichel took seven for 20 versus England, while Shane Bond returned figures of six for 23 against Australia. Moreover, in the same match, Brett Lee took five for 42.

The semi-final, however, will be played on the wicket which hosted the first game — New Zealand versus the West Indies, on February 13.

Batting first, New Zealand scored 241 for seven and, then, dismissed the West Indies for 221.

“We’ve worked hard on the wicket... Now, it’s up to the guys to get some runs,” Carter remarked, rubbishing a report that the United Cricket Board had rushed Centurion’s Hilbert Smith to supervise preparations.

“Stories can keep flying about. Fact is, I myself requested Hilbert to come over. Having said that, wickets here won’t be like the Wanderers or the one in Centurion,” Carter pointed out.

While Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore declined to comment (“I’m not an authority”), Australia’s John Buchanan said the wicket looked the “best” of the three seen by his team. For good measure, he added: “Whatever the wicket, our job is to play...”

That should make Carter, possibly the youngest curator at a Test venue, sleep easy.

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