Sides peer ahead on eve of crucial encounter
Once it would have been disrespectful to talk about what was coming up next before the eve of a trophy-deciding game, but with the crammed modern itineraries it has become excusable, especially when more important engagements are on the horizon. The Chappell-Hadlee Series, which quickly became an example in the over-crowded schedule, has been repackaged into a five-game tussle and the local interest has been unable to match Australia's earlier contests with South Africa.
Ricky Ponting's men leave on Monday for a return series with Graeme Smith's team while New Zealand are about to host India. Daniel Vettori said a victory on Friday would help his squad before the contests at home. "It's a pretty important one-day series for us as well," Vettori said. "There's always an expectation a New Zealand team should win in its own conditions and Indian teams are notorious for not touring New Zealand that well, so we're looking forward to that."
Australia's next engagement is a three-Test series, which starts in Johannesburg on February 26, but Ponting does not expect Friday's match to have much of an effect on what happens in South Africa. "I've never been a big one for taking too much from a one-day series and trying to take it into a Test series," Ponting said. "The last lot of cricket against South Africa was a one-day series and they beat us pretty comprehensively. A couple of weeks before that was the Test series, and we were ultra competitive against them."
Crowds for the Chappell-Hadlee Series have been low and the deciding game of the contest on Friday will not be a sell-out, meaning the entire match won't be shown on television in Brisbane. Ponting urged people to come when he heard there would be empty seats at the Gabba.
"I'll be a little disappointed if it's not a sell out, to tell the truth," he said. "This is a final of a one-day competition that we've just come back from 2-0 down to get into this situation."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo