Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Shane Warne has failed a drug test and has been sent home from the World Cup. The drug was apparently a "diuretic" that Warne was using in his weight loss efforts. (I wish I knew what the actual substance was - there are certainly some fairly nasty drugs that people sometimes use to lose weight. The SMH is describing it as a "fluid reduction medication"). Still, this is bad, both because I hate to see one of the greatest players of the game go out like this, and two, because it seriously reduces Australia's chances of winning the tournament.

On Australia winning the tournament, Australia have just scored a superb 310 in their first match. After a bad start, Andrew Symonds came in at number six and scored an amazing 145 not out. (Symonds was a marginal selection for this World Cup, but he certainly justified his selection today). To make matters worse for Pakistan, their over rate was slow and they are going to be penalised overs when they bat. Sloppy for them, but typical of Pakistan sides. (They also bowled a lot of wides and noballs). After Pakistan captain Waqar Younis' peculiarly inept attempts at mind games the other day, he lost his cool when bowling, and was taken out of the attack by the umpire for bowling dangerously. (A cricket ball is supposed to bounce between being bowled and reaching the batsman. If a fast bowler fails to bounce the ball, it can be extremely dangerous to the batsman, who does not expect it. Normally if it happens once, the bowler apologises profusely to the batsman, and the game goes on. If it happens twice, as it did today, the bowler is normally banned by the umpire from bowling in the rest of the match, which is what happened).. As I said, a complete lack of discipline from the Pakistanis.

Australia should win this game easily, if nothing else.

Update Australia did win the game easily. It will be interesting to see what the Australian selectors now do in the next game, given that Symonds was likely only in the side in the first place due to the Suspension of Lehmann and the injury to Bevan. Symonds must now be retained. Maher can be dropped for Bevan, but then what. The selectors either leave Lehmann out, or drop Harvey. However, Harvey is useful for his bowling, so this is a little bit of a dilemma for them.

On the bowling front, the last World Cup was in the end won by brilliant bowling from Shane Warne in the semi-final and final. When things looked lost, he was able to pull something special out of the bag when it counted to win (or tie) the matches from what looked like difficult positions. With Warne being sent home, he will not be there to fill this role in this tournament, and Australia are much weaker for this. However, it will be interesting to see if any of the other bowlers will be able to perform this role. Brett Lee managed this a few times in the recent VB series, particularly in the second final. I think he just might in the WC, too.

Further Update: In today's other game, Canada defeated Bangladesh quite comfortably. Although neither of these sides are expected to make the second round of the tournament, Bangladesh are what is known as a "full member" of the International Cricket Council (ICC). This means that they play together as a team year round against the other full members, their players are professional, their matches count towards the official statistics of top level cricket, and they do not have to play in a qualifying tournament for the World Cup. Canada on the other hand are true amateurs, only play together occasionally, and had to qualify for the tournament. (Canada finished third in the qualifying tournament from which three teams qualified for the World Cup, and so are officially ranked 14th out of the 14 teams in the tournament). There has been some discussion as to whether the ICC were correct to grant Bangladesh full member status. These arguments will continue after today.

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