WC 2003 - Hopes high in battle of makeweights

Published: Saturday, February 8, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bloemfontein: While the World Cup giants talk of the Super Six, Namibia and The Netherlands are thinking only of surviving the embarrassment of the group A wooden spoon.With five heavy defeats each, both sides are desperate to clinch their first World Cup win and Monday's match at Goodyear Park is their last opportunity to break their ducks."We have been very competitive against the top sides in terms of fielding and bowling and we have just got to keep the same disciplines," said Namibia skipper Deon Kotze."The biggest mistake would be to think that we have done the hard work and relax against the Dutch."The Namibians must bounce back from the 256-run mauling they received at the hands of the Australians in Potchefstroom last week - a record defeat in the history of the World Cup.But they showed against England that they do have players who can take the game to the opposition - in that game, they were even ahead on run rate as the skies darkened over Port Elizabeth before they were eventually beaten by 55 runs, easily their best performance in their five matches.For the Dutch, playing in their second World Cup, they took a degree of comfort from passing 200 as they chased 301 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo before losing by 99 runs."We were pleased to get beyond 200 against Zimbabwe," said skipper Roland Lefebrve."Now we need to win against Namibia and I think we have a very good chance if we bowl well and perform solidly."Despite their one-sided defeats in the tournament, the International Cricket Council (ICC) refuses to sanction any ideas that the minnows do not deserve to be at the World Cup."A lot of these smaller teams don't play any three-day cricket where you really learn to bat," said Bob Woolmer, the head of the ICC's high performance unit which works with the smaller sides to help build their ability and profile."The high-performance unit will continue after the World Cup. Some of the plans are still on the drawing board but we hope to have them playing three-day matches and get 'A' tours by the major nations to these countries."We've also got plans for an inter-continental cup where teams from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas will play other teams from their regions before going into a knockout event against one another."Copyright AFP 2001


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