October 6, 2000

England hope to benefit from superior knowledge

Staff & Agencies

England are aiming to build on their superior knowledge of the Gymkhana Club when they meet South Africa in their ICC Knockout quarter-final.

Coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Nasser Hussain believe there's an advantage in already knowing how to play in Kenya.

South Africa have arrived fresh from their own domestic competition. They've played at the ground before, but not on the present fast and bouncy pitches. And England learned enough from their easy win over Bangladesh to stand them in good stead on Tuesday.

Fletcher said: "The Bangladesh match was a good exercise for us, because we were tested to some degree. We had to go out and better 232, and the bowlers bowled very well.

"We now know what is required on that wicket. It was a strange wicket for us to play on and the boys now know what line and length to bowl. South Africa probably play on very similar wickets, but we have had a game on there.

"I would have hated to go into a big match without that. If you had not played on it you would have thought we were bowling badly. You will not play on a much better one-day wicket than that."

Although Hussain knows that England have a tough winter ahead, he believes that they are in the right mood to tackle it.

"The thing is, we enjoy each other's company. This side has been together for a little while, and there are a lot of good mates in it," said Hussain.

Meanwhile South Africa are still scarred by the match-fixing scandal which ended the career of their disgraced former captain Hansie Cronje. His replacement, Shaun Pollock, fielded another barrage of questions about the consequences of the affair.

Pollock admitted: "It has been difficult for us in the last few months. But what the guys have done is behind them now. We are enjoying just getting out on the field to play cricket.

"Once the Commission has come to its conclusion we can get on with restoring cricket to what it should be."

Pollock insists there is no chance of any of his squad being implicated in match-fixing, whatever revelations emerge in the ensuing weeks.

"There is no fear from our point of view. The players have nothing to hide. We cannot turn a blind eye to what has gone on in South African cricket. But the only thing we can do is get back on the field and build people's trust that way," he said.

"We have all signed a declaration before we left on tour to say none of us have been involved (in match-fixing) and none of us will be involved. The guys understand the consequences of it. Everyone knows what will happen if they are found guilty, or even half-guilty."