| Michael Bevan during practice at Centurion Park in Pretoria Thursday. (AFP)
Pretoria: “Now or Never” is the Indians’ theme for the World Cup, but for it to click like the Australians’ “No Regrets Tour” in 1999, much work needs to be put in. Towards that end, the Indians were at nets in neighbouring Centurion, Thursday afternoon, hours after completing a tiring Paarl-Cape Town-Johannesburg-Pretoria trip.
But, then, so much is at stake — and the next Pool A match is against holders Australia — that the luxury of an off can’t even be contemplated. In any case, coach John Wright is a demanding taskmaster.
The coach, however, made an exception for Jawagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan. While the trio was excused from nets, an extended gym session was prescribed. Incidentally, the 300 club’s newest entrant, Srinath, felt he had “only reached a milestone.” Almost as an afterthought, he added: “It’s later, some years on that it will probably mean more...”
The theme, of course, has been chosen at sport psychologist Sandy Gordon’s suggestion. According to The Telegraph’s sources, the ‘selection’ was unanimous. Apparently, “one or two” alternatives were floated, but everybody eventually endorsed “Now or Never.”
As lessons have to be learnt from Wednesday’s unimpressive win over Holland, it won’t surprise if the captain, Sourav Ganguly, and Wright have returned to the drawing board. Yet, it’s unlikely that a change will be effected in the XI.
With Darren Lehmann available for selection and Michael Bevan fit, it’s certain that both will figure in the Australian XI. Jimmy Maher and Ian Harvey are the ones who may have to vacate the slots held by them versus Pakistan.
The Australians, though, are bound to feel Shane Warne’s absence.
In the days gone by, the SuperSport Park wicket (in Centurion) would afford much bounce and considerable carry. Now, that isn’t so, but curator Hilbert Smith maintained “every effort” has been made to bring back the bounce and carry.
The track, by the way, is devoid of grass and has the shine usually associated with good batting wickets.
Meanwhile, a well-placed source informed that the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) is “unsure” whether the Event Technical Committee will sanction a replacement for the No.1 leggie. “Shane’s departure had nothing to do with an injury, so... It’s probably going to be a tricky call,” the source remarked.
If a replacement is okayed, young Nathan Hauritz is bound to be a contender. An off-spinner who plays for Queensland, Hauritz is a superb fielder and knows which end of the bat to hold.