March 19, 2003

Don't walk, Ponting urges team-mates

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, March 18 AAP - Hard-nosed captain Ricky Ponting won't encourage his players to follow Adam Gilchrist's lead by giving up their wickets before the umpire has raised his finger when Australia contests a fifth World Cup final on Sunday.

Gilchrist staggered Ponting and the rest of the Australian side by walking off as umpire Rudi Koertzen was saying "not out" during the 48-run semi-final win over Sri Lanka at St George's Park today.

Ponting's deputy saw Koertzen's rejection of the Sri Lankan appeal for a caught behind but he headed for the pavilion anyway despite the enormity of the occasion and the importance of his innings to the Australian cause.

"I won't be encouraging any of our batsmen to do it," said Ponting.

"It's up to them. I won't tell any of our batsmen what to do - whether to walk or not. It's how they see it on the day.

"I was surprised at the time. All of us in the dressing room were surprised."

Australia's Test captain Steve Waugh is a strict believer in a batsman holding his ground until the umpire orders him to go. Last December, Waugh said walking made about as much sense as a driver dobbing himself in with police for speeding.

Sri Lanka's bowler Aravinda de Silva was mortified when Koertzen knocked back his appeal for a catch to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara but then Gilchrist, having made an ominous 20 runs from just 22 balls, departed of his own accord.

The umpire was powerless to stop him.

"We thought that he was out," said de Silva.

"He walked off.

"Yeah, the umpire did say 'not out.' I think it was a good gesture by Gilchrist. To have walked off, it's very rare nowadays for a batsman to walk ... I think there are some gentleman in the game."

Sunday's final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg will feature Australia and the winner of Thursday's second semi-final between India and Kenya.

More than likely it will be Sourav Ganguly-led, Sachin Tendulkar-inspired India, even though Ponting would be overjoyed if Kenya somehow snuck through.

"They're one of the only minnow sides that had a real crack and tried to take on the bigger sides head-on," said Ponting, whose men were in a little strife before downing Kenya by five wickets last Saturday.

"We saw that the other night. We had them in trouble early on and they fought really hard and got themselves 170 on the board and gave themselves a chance to win.

"I'm happy they are there and I will be barracking for them."

Australia has won two and lost two of its Cup finals appearances. Victories were achieved in 1987 and 1999 but there were defeats in 1975 and 1996.

Asked how Australia could be beaten, Sri Lankan coach Dav Whatmore said: "You need confidence. It's a confidence game. Somehow an opposition team needs to be as equally as confident as them, with a sufficient degree of skill, obviously.

"With the right confidence the opposition can win but Australia are a very good team at the moment, we would all agree with that.