England optimistic about Whites fitness, silent on Zim

Published: Monday, February 3, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: The England cricket team said on Sunday it was optimistic that its only fitness worry, all-rounder Craig White, would be resolved this week as it begins its World Cup campaign. Having arrived in Port Elizabeth on Saturday after a four-day break which included three days of golf at Sun City, Nasser Hussain's men kicked off their preparations with light fielding practice at St George's Park on Sunday morning. England was to continue on Monday with a net practice before Tuesday's first warm-up game against Eastern Province at the revamped Motherwell club ground. Hussain acknowledged there was still a question mark over White, local news agency 'SAPA' reported. "We've not fully tested Craig White, but his test will come on Monday or the next day when he actually bowls," the England skipper said.

The 33-year-old Yorkshire all-rounder tore a side muscle while bowling against Australia in the Boxing Day Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and was told then it would take about six weeks to recover. "That (bowling) will be the test and the sooner he declares himself fit the better it will be to get our World Cup squad organised. He's the only one who has got a fitness worry about him, but things are looking optimistic." Hussain felt after four months in Australia, England had had a good build-up to the World Cup. "We had four months improving in Australia and that sets you up nicely for this tournament. We've been playing some good cricket and we go into the tournament with a lot of good cricket behind us." Hussain said they had no regrets about not returning to England after the Australian tour, despite an earlier call for a few days holiday at home for his weary tourists.

"We're enjoying South Africa, the people have come out and supported us fantastically and we enjoy being out here." Wicket-keeper Alec Stewart said the tour of Australia had made them aware of the level they needed to reach to win the World Cup. "We've seen Australia play good cricket. They are the best side in the world and we've seen the level we have to achieve if we are to win the World Cup. "It's also given the lads more experience. We've had some new players come in and they'll have grown in stature. We lost the final, but it also meant that we reached the final and Sri Lanka didn't," Stewart said. "So we're moving nicely in the right direction and we just need to make sure we keep moving on so we can challenge the best." Hussain would not be drawn on the Zimbabwe issue, saying only that they would leave statements on that controversy to the relevant authorities.


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