April 8, 2002

Pollock scoffs at World Cup boycott rumours

South Africa captain Shaun Pollock has scoffed at suggestions that his side might boycott the opening match of next year's World Cup as some sort of protest against the way the game is administered in South Africa.

The idea of a World Cup boycott was floated in a Johannesburg morning paper without naming specific sources, but Pollock said: "There's absolutely nothing that's been mentioned in out circles (about a proposed boycott). I haven't heard one person talk about it at all and I don't believe there's any truth in it. I don't know where it comes from."

Speaking on the eve of the final Standard Bank one-day international against Australia at Newlands on Wednesday, Pollock said: "Inasmuch as you're always planning for the World Cup, we haven't given it much thought. Pulling out of the opening ceremony - that's way above or past anything we've contemplated. I can assure you that it will never happen."

Despite his claim that the South Africans had not spent a great deal of time discussing the World Cup, it is clear that Pollock has begun to apply his mind to one-day cricket's premier event.

He said that he had already identified 12 players who he thought would form the core of the World Cup squad, while qualifying this by saying that form would obviously still play a part.

His immediate concern was to try and prevent Australia going through the current series undefeated, but he did concede that the hammering taken over the past few weeks might prove beneficial to South Africa in the long term.

"If we'd won this series, we might have gone into next season a little bit cocksure," he said. "It's outlined for us that basic elements and certain structures have to be in place. It's been a good wakeup call. If you want to talk about timing, then it's been better timing for us than rocking up for the World Cup and coming short on the most important day."

He said that he believed many of South Africa's myriad problems would be sorted out in the off season.

"Everything from the political side and off the field needs to run as smoothly as possible to make sure that everything on the field goes as smoothly," he said.

South Africa will again be without Lance Klusener, who is carrying a hamstring strain, for the final game in the series and it seems likely that the hosts will recall Boeta Dippenaar and Nantie Hayward to their team for Wednesday, if only to give both players a run.

Pollock said that the current Australian side had set a new benchmark for international cricket, likening Ricky Ponting's team to golf's Tiger Woods.

"In our situation, where we are now, we know what we have to achieve," he said pointing out that during Woods' golden run in 2000 he had been winning Majors by enormous margins.

"Ernie (Els) finished second twice in those Majors, but now he's fought back and is really competing and I believe that's what is going to take for us to get back," he said.

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