WC 2003 - Day-night games to stay, conditions no criteria: Bacher
Published: Friday, February 28, 2003, 0:49 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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East London: There will be no change in the World Cup fixtures despite allegations that conditions favour sides batting first in day-night matches, tournament executive director Ali Bacher said on Thursday. "Definitely not," said Bacher when asked whether a change was possible. Television commentators, including former England star Ian Botham, expressed fears that the day-night semi-final, scheduled for Durban on March 20, could reduce the game to a "lottery", with the outcome depending on which side wins the toss. "I'm no expert on weather conditions but the locals say that a lot depends on which way the wind blows and how much humidity there is," said Bacher. "That is part of cricket. Conditions can change, as they do in day games as well when there is early life in the pitch or cloud cover." Statistics going back to the first One-day International in Durban in 1992-93 showed an even spread of wins for the sides batting first and second, said Bacher. "Of 15 day-night games at Kingsmead, seven were won by the side batting first, seven by the side batting second and one was a no-result." Bacher said the only two venues selected for day-night matches in the World Cup were Kingsmead and Newlands in Cape Town because they were the only grounds with suitable floodlights that were unlikely to be affected by dew, which could be a factor in inland centres such as Johannesburg and Centurion. "The majority of our spectators are South Africans and the number one cricket product for them is day-night cricket because they have the opportunity to watch the games after working hours," said Bacher. Fears over the conditions at Kingsmead and Newlands were expressed after England was bowled out for 168 in reply to India's 250 for nine in Durban on Wednesday.The result has virtually guaranteed the winners a place in the Super Six, while probably condemning the losers to an early exit. It was the second successive match involving England where the conditions favoured the side batting first. They beat Pakistan by 112 runs under lights at Newlands in Cape Town on last Friday. Three more floodlit games are scheduled at Kingsmead, a vital Pool B match between South Africa and Sri Lanka Monday, a Super Six match on March 15 and the semi-final. Newlands will stage an important Pool B game Friday, between Sri Lanka and West Indies, and a Super Six match on March 7. India captain Saurav Ganguly won the toss and chose to bat on Wednesday in a game his side won by 82 runs. His opposite number Nasser Hussain had better luck with the coin at Newlands - a ground notorious for favouring teams batting first - on Saturday where England thrashed Pakistan by 112 runs. "There is no doubt that under lights the pace bowlers have an edge," Ganguly said. "In day-night games the toss is very crucial."Against Pakistan, England paceman James Anderson wreaked havoc with four for 29; against England, India left-arm quick Ashish Nehra topped that display with six for 23, the third best return in World Cup history. England captain Nasser Hussain, while paying tribute to Nehra's performance said, "Conditions did alter, the ball did start to zip off. That's not an excuse. We were lucky at Cape Town and unlucky today."