WC 2003 - Andys no more bits and pieces for Aussies
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Johannesburg: They came to the World Cup as part of the Australian supporting cast but have quickly started to hog the limelight.They are the two Andys - Symonds and Bichel - who have come to the rescue at crucial times in their team's campaign to win a second successive title.Symonds hit 91 to steer the Aussies to their semi-final win over Sri Lanka on Tuesday with an innings just as crucial as his 143 against Pakistan in the first round back on February 11.Despite those blistering innings, the big-hitting Symonds tries to keep his feet on the ground. "I just try and chip in with the bat and the ball and field well. It all beats standing in the deep doing nothing," said the man whose original selection for the squad was widely criticised because of his poor form in the run-up the tournament."I was numb when I was selected, to be honest with you. I don't know what is happening now - I'm starting to grow a brain or something," joked Symonds who won praise too from skipper Ricky Ponting.Ponting knows he cannot do without his services in Sunday's final at the Wanderers. "Andrew played beautifully, like he has done throughout this tournament," said the skipper after Symonds had come to the wicket at Port Elizabeth with the score at 51 for three in the semi-final."In the first game against Pakistan, he scored one of the best One-day hundreds you will see and Tuesday was the reverse of that, a very sensible innings."Against Sri Lanka, Symonds was helped in his efforts by Andy Bichel, another player who has been making the most of an unexpected chance in the team when strike bowler Jason Gillespie limped out of the tournament through injury.Bichel hit 19 in the semi-final to send his tournament average to over 100. He had already smashed 64 batting at number nine against New Zealand.On top of that he has 15 wickets to his name including a breathtaking seven for 20 against England."If you ask him he'll tell you he's the best number nine in world cricket. He's taken his chance with both hands," said Ponting. "He wasn't in our side at the start of the tournament but every game he's played he's got better and better."If you're in a bit of trouble, you can rely on him to bat out a few overs and, if you need some quick runs, he can hit the ball over the top." The performances of Bichel and Symonds have also won the praise of teammate Darren Lehmann who believes they have been key to Australia making a third successive World Cup final. "There has been a lot of chopping and changing because of the injuries we've had, but if some players have struggled, there have been others who have come to take up the slack," said Lehmann. "Everyone in this team has chipped in."