The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Geoff Marsh thumbs-up for Aussies

Johannesburg: Ricky Ponting’s Australia received the thumbs up to win the World Cup on Wednesday from a man familiar with both the sweat and hard work of players and the mental agony of a coach.

Geoff Marsh, the former Australian opening batsman, was a member of Allan Border’s side that beat England in the final at the Eden Gardens in Calcutta in 1987.

He then coached Steve Waugh’s team to repeat the feat in the 1999 final at Lord’s when Australia thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets. Marsh, who now coaches Zimbabwe, believes the current Australians are well on their way to retaining the title in the final at the Wanderers here on March 23.

“The next period of the tournament is obviously the key but they’re looking a real class act at the moment,” Marsh said after his Zimbabwe team lost to the defending champions in Bulawayo on Monday.

It was Australia’s fourth successive win in group A, making them the first team in the 14-nation tournament to advance to the Super Sixes. “They are a very different side from 1999,” Marsh said. “Most of their senior players now were still sort offending their way back then.

Imran praise for Wasim Akram

Paarl: Former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan on Wednesday saluted Wasim Akram’s achievement in becoming the first bowler to take 500 one-day wickets and said he rated him as the finest left-arm fast bowler of all-time.

Akram, 36, broke the 500 barrier when he bowled Holland’s opener Nick Statham in a World Cup victory over the Dutch at BoE Park.

In a career spanning close to 19 years and 354 one-day Internationals, Akram finished with three for 24 as Pakistan beat the Dutch by 97 runs to stay in contention for a place in the Super Sixes.

He now has 502 wickets. Imran, who discovered Akram as an 18-year-old, said he and West Indies paceman Michael Holding were the two most talented and naturally gifted bowlers ever to play the sport.

“I am not surprised he’s broken the record,” Imran said over telephone from Pakistan.

“He’s the best left-arm fast bowler ever to play the game. He had all the talent to become the greatest fast bowler Pakistan had ever produced. I always believed he could topple a lot of records. He’s got the ability and that’s incredible.”

Studies first, not cricket

Potchefstroom: Namibia batsman Jan-Berry Burger hopes that his impressive performances at this World Cup will pave the way for a career in cricket, but only after he completes his education.

The 21-year-old, popularly known as JB, is studying for a qualification in human resource management but, away from the textbooks, he has been one of the shining lights of the tournament among the part-timers with 154 runs in four matches.

“I would definitely like to make a career out of cricket, that is in the forefront of my mind,” the right-hander said on Tuesday, as Namibia prepared for their Group A match against Australia on Thursday.

“If I perform well, then there may be opportunities. You never know, and I have contacts in England through our coach Dougie Brown and Bob Woolmer who could help me. That means if I wanted to go there I could but, at the moment, I am going to concentrate on my studies and we will wait and see what happens from there.”

n India vs England, repeat from 9.30 am on DD-2 n Australia vs Namibia, live from 1.30 pm on Max n South Africa vs Canada, live from 1.30 pm on Sony

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