March 26, 2002

Warne and Bevan to miss Potch ODI

Shane Warne and Michael Bevan will both miss Australia's bid to take a 3-0 lead in the Standard Bank one-day series match against South Africa in Potchefstroom on Wednesday.

Both are suffering from hamstring ailments and neither were considered as Australia named an unchanged 12 for the match with a final decision to be made on the composition of the team to be made shortly before the toss.

The news of the absence of Warne and Bevan will come as some comfort to a South African that has still to come to terms with another outburst from coach Graham Ford who again has claimed that there is no communication between him and the national selectors.

Ford was quoted in The Star on Tuesday as saying that he still had no say in the selection of the team.

"Right now the final team gets phoned through to Polly (Shaun Pollock) the day before a game. I am not satisfied with the situation and one has to accept that things are not operating as they should be," Ford is reported to have said.

"Even if I pinpoint the problems, it is quite difficult to do anything about it because I don't pick the team. You have to try to do what you can with what you're given," The Star quotes Ford as saying.

The response of United Cricket Board chief executive Gerald Majola and selection convener Rushdi Magiet, broadly speaking, has been to tell Ford to shut up and get on with his job, but that fact that this type of internal squabbling has become public for the second time in four weeks suggests that South African cricket may well be approaching critical mass.

On Sunday at Centurion Australia fielded possibly the weakest combination available to them from their current resources with Warne, Bevan and Ian Harvey all unavailable. The result, however, was an increased margin of victory in a match which followed an almost identical course to the first game at the Wanderers last Friday.

On each occasion South Africa restricted Australia to modest totals in the 220s on pitches for which par has traditionally been around the 250-260 mark. On each occasion the South African top order dissolved like morning mist and only Lance Klusener's late hitting in both games gave the final results a veneer of respectability.

South Africa have gone into this one-day series, as they approached the Test matches in Australia, with no discernible strategy and for this lack of foresight Ford can hardly be held solely to blame.

And if, as he claims, the selectors simply present the team to him and captain Pollock as a fait accompli, then will they have the courage to grasp the nettle and leave out one or two of their underperforming senior batsmen at the top of the order.

That is where the problem has lain, but it remains to be seen whether the two members of the squad not to have played in the first two games, Neil McKenzie and Andrew Hall, will be given a game in Potchefstroom and if they do play, who will be left out.

Anything is possible in one-day cricket, but if you were a betting man, you wouldn't want to put your house on a South African victory.

Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist (vice-captain), Matthew Hayden, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Shane Watson, Andrew Bichel, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Nathan Hauritz, Glenn McGrath