Kiwis, World XI allowed practice on match wicket

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Auckland:In a departure from international cricket regulations, the New Zealand and World XI teams will be allowed to practice on the match surface the day before their three one-day matches, the New Zealand Herald said.

The previously unheard of provision will provide up to 60 minutes of practice for each team, in the hope the extra exposure will take early sting out of the wicket and counter one of the game's biggest problems -- that limited over matches are effectively decided in the first 20 overs.

In terms of international cricket, the move comes as a radical concept, as match pitches usually remain in the control of the groundsman until the start of play, and are off limits to players.

But the International Cricket Council decision against giving the matches full one-day international (ODI) status has provided an experimental window for New Zealand Cricket, which received stinging criticism for preparing bowler-friendly pitches against India two years ago.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said he was interested in seeing how the new practice conditions worked out.

"People are obviously working hard on solutions and if this is going to make a better contest I'm all for it," he said.

The three matches were hastily arranged to provide extra competition for New Zealand after the Sri Lankan tour was cut short following the devastating tsunamis which swept through south Asia three weeks ago.

Fleming attempted to erase speculation of the series turning into a festival affair because of its fund-raising aspect to provide aid for tsunami victims.

"No, that won't happen because the players won't allow it to," he said.

"The importance of the series is very clear to us -- we need a tough match-play play (game) before Australia arrive, so we'll be working very hard. It's crucial we keep our structure and shape and treat these games like fully fledged ODIs."

The mini series starts in Christchurch on Saturday followed by matches in Wellington on Monday and Hamilton next Wednesday.

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