February 2, 2002

Waugh keeps game plan under wraps

Australian captain Stephen Waugh was keeping his one-day side's plans for another great escape firmly under wraps today as he refused to join the chorus of disapproval for the bonus points system.

Australia faces the mammoth task of having to secure a bonus point in the final round robin one-day match against South Africa tomorrow at the WACA ground to make the tri-series finals.

The Proteas earned a berth in the best-of-three finals last night after gaining a bonus point in a controversial 67-run victory over New Zealand at the WACA ground.

Because of a quirk in the points system, the Black Caps ended up deliberately scoring less than 217 runs to enhance their chances of making the finals starting next Wednesday.

A downcast New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming afterwards called for an overhaul of the points system because it created scenarios such as last night.

"Believe me it was our last resort and the call came from the middle and from myself that in the end, that was our best chance," Fleming said.

South African captain Shaun Pollock conceded the system was flawed.

"It is probably not ideal, you probably want the guys to go out there and play for a win," he said.

But Waugh wouldn't attack the system, which attempts to reward adventurous play.

"I think it has worked well in domestic cricket and added some interest to this competition," Waugh said.

"I think you have to have a look at it after a year and evaluate whether it worked or not."

Australia is tipped to beef up its batting lineup tomorrow with the addition of Darren Lehmann for allrounder Ian Harvey.

And while tomorrow's showdown will revive memories of Australia's brilliant escapes against South Africa in the 1999 World Cup, the securing of the bonus point will be an enormous task.

A bonus point is awarded when a team achieves a run rate of 1.25 times that of its opposition.

But despite a turbulent summer in the abbreviated game for the Australian team Waugh still believes they can come through with the result.

"This is a situation where we have been in in the past and we have done well and we'd like to think we can come out of it again," Waugh said.

The Proteas were expected to play a full strength lineup tomorrow in an attempt to blast recent nemesis Australia out of the competition on a flat WACA deck.

Pollock's men have extra incentive to play New Zealand in the finals starting Wednesday in Melbourne as they hold a 14-1 win-loss record over them in recent matches.

And they will fancy themselves even more with injury clouds hanging over the Black Caps best performed batsman and bowler in the competition in Chris Cairns (back) and Shane Bond (groin).

Likely teams:

Australia: Steve Waugh (c), Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Darren Lehmann, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.

South Africa: Shaun Pollock (c), Herschelle Gibbs, Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Jonty Rhodes, Mark Boucher, Lance Kluesner, Nicky Boje, Makhaya Ntini, Allan Donald.