WC 2003 - Hapless Zim sends SOS to Campbell to save its WC bid

Published: Monday, February 10, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bloemfontein: Former captain Alistair Campbell was so stunned by his call-up to the Zimbabwe World Cup squad that he had to borrow a teammate's kit to practise on Monday."At my age, when you are snubbed for the World Cup, you think that's it," said the 30-year-old at Goodyear Park ahead of Wednesday's vital Super Six match against Kenya.Campbell was in South Africa as a television commentator but received the call after Mark Vermeulen sustained a fractured skull while batting in the nets against teammate Travis Friend on Friday."I was on my way to Cape Town on Sunday morning for some studio work when I got the call at 11am. I phoned up my wife and asked her to leave some kit at the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) in Harare. "Hopefully, it will arrive this evening." At nets on Monday, Campbell was using kit borrowed from star batsman and fellow left-hander Andy Flower. "I was hitting them quite well. It must be Andy Flower's bat. But he won't let me have his good one."Still it's one thing hitting them well in the nets, another thing out in the middle." Campbell lost his place in the Zimbabwe side and has not played cricket for six weeks. "My last match was for Manicaland against Matabeland in our One-day competition. I made five which was quite good - it only took me two balls," Campbell joked before adding that he expected to play in Wednesday's match. "I don't think they would have called me up otherwise. Vermeulen is an opener, I'm an opener. They've been having to use makeshift openers so I guess I'll play."He added that he had benefited from Zimbabwe's intensive pre-World Cup training camp. "We did a lot of work there. But I'm sure I'll feel a bit stiff tomorrow. You're bound to, especially if you haven't played for a long period of time."Campbell, who said he'd been doing the odd weight session in between broadcasting stints, admitted that commentating was a nice way of life, but insisted he had not let himself go physically. "I haven't been eating pie and chips and drinking 20 pints." Looking ahead to Wednesday's match, he said he expected a close encounter in what, with hosts South Africa as well as Namibia out of the tournament, is a contest between the last two African teams left in the World Cup."The Kenyans have got no world-beaters, but their bowlers bowl an irritating length, there are not too many balls to hit. And their batsmen are capable of posting a score."But the biggest thing about them is the way they bustle in the field. They're at you and you only have to see how they react when they take a wicket. If you given them an opening they go for the jugular. You've got to put pressure on them early."This is a big game - if they beat us they are in the semi-final. It's a high stakes match. But we've just got to concentrate on what we do. If you talk about the pressure all the time you won't be doing the things you're meant to be."Copyright AFP 2001

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