Kass Naidoo

Coin-flip makes CWC a lottery

2007-03-14 09:45

Kass Naidoo

I don't know about you, but I'm getting nervous about South Africa's chances of winning the Cricket World Cup.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning their abilities, but rather the pitches, which are an unknown quantity and might well end up making a lottery of this tournament.

And, after watching Tuesday's opening match between Pakistan and hosts West Indies, my concerns have intensified.

The Proteas won't be placing any reliance on their current ODI No 1 ranking, or an impressive record of 10 wins in their past 11 ODI's in the West Indies.

It would have been a different case if we were playing on traditional West Indian tracks offering pace and bounce, or if matches were scheduled to start at familiar ODI starting times, instead of these juiced-up 09:30 starts.

Newly-laid pitches are causing uncertainty for selectors about the make-up of their starting teams, and there will be plenty of head-scratching regarding game plans.

Re-assessing

Prior to the warm-up games, many were anticipating high scores, with the Chappell brothers even suggesting the possibility of the first 500-plus innings total.

But after receiving the warm-up match reports, many bookmakers are re-assessing the odds they're offering.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid has admitted that slow pitches could mean the revision of batting plans, and played down big score expectations.

The Proteas have been very vocal about their 'brave cricket' inclinations, but how will they adapt to these volatile conditions?

The experience of cricketers like Jacques Kallis will come into play, but the ability to rotate the strike will be paramount.

From what experts are saying, batsmen will have to be patient on these new tracks, and a batsman who gets settled will have to make his innings count.

Wear and tear

Captains winning the toss will almost certainly bowl first, with Australia's Ricky Ponting having suggested he would rather chase a total, considering the early match starting times, and the prospect of seaming pitches early on.

There are added concerns that the new surfaces may not hold up to the wear and tear of top-flight cricket.

Crumbling pitches will help slow bowlers, and with the exception of South Africa, all the stronger sides have top-flight spinners, most with a few part-timers at their disposal.

South Africa's sole option is Robin Peterson, with captain Graeme Smith capable of sending down a few overs. But will Peterson play in the big games?

Even on tracks that assist slower bowlers, the Proteas have regularly played an all-pace attack. Thank goodness we've got Andrew Hall out there, at least he can mix it up a bit.

I hope for cricket's sake that these new pitches play the part, and that the World Cup lives up to expectations.

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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