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March 17, 2007
The players in St Kitts currently seem to exist in a parallel universe. Upsets may be raining down in Jamaica and Trinidad, but the status quo in the World Cup's smallest base camp hasn't come close to being rattled. As Australia went through the motions ahead of their clash with The Netherlands at Warner Park on Sunday, Adam Gilchrist gave an indication of the relaxed mood in their camp, by admitting he didn't even know how crushing South Africa's 221-run victory over the Dutch had been.
It's a safe bet that this match won't be providing the next great upset of what is already proving to be a spectacular World Cup. Herschelle Gibbs' historical onslaught has left the Dutch morale dangling at their bootstraps, and their captain, Luuk van Troost, conceded that they would be hard-pressed to get over such a beating in just 24 hours.
"We must clear our minds and try to forget what happened on Friday," van Troost said. "We didn't enjoy what happened against South Africa, there weren't many positives, and I don't want any more world records against my team. We need to do the basics right against Australia. If we bowl well and field with discipline we can be a better side."
Gilchrist did his best to avoid any complacency, although his confidence was understandable. "No result is a given, we're well aware of that," he said. "But winning is expected of us and we'd be disappointed if we lose. Some of the wickets here are going to provide assistance to slower bowling and that brings everyone into the game a bit more than an absolute flat road does where batsmen can swing freely. But securing the victory is the main thing."
Australia are unlikely to risk a recall for Andrew Symonds for such a low-key battle, although his return cannot be far off. In the nets on Saturday he was bowling his offbreaks for the first time since tearing his right bicep seven weeks ago, and to judge by some of the straight drives that scudded into the sightscreen, his big hitting has not been diminished by surgery.
"It's been really good solid progress from Symmo," Gilchrist said. "He is right on track from where we had planned and plotted [he would be] prior to coming over here. When he gets back to playing an actual game, I'm not sure when that it is, but as far as being where we would like him to be, he's progressing well." The South Africa game next Saturday is the most likely option.
As for the Dutch, to judge by van Troost's resigned air, they are braced for the inevitable. "We haven't decided on our final line-up," he said, although having omitted both of their spinners, Adeel Raja and Mohammad Kashif for the South Africa match, that mistake is unlikely to be repeated. "We have a meeting coming up in the evening and only then we will decide. As for whether we bat or bowl first, we have no idea."
Australia (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 2 Matthew Hayden, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Shane Watson, 8 Brad Hogg, 9 Nathan Bracken, 10 Glenn McGrath, 11 Shaun Tait.
The Netherlands (probable) 1 Darron Reekers, 2 Bas Zuiderent, 3 Alex Kervezee, 4 Ryan ten Doeschate, 5 Daan van Bunge, 6 Eric Szwarczynski, 7 Tim de Leede, 8 Adeel Raja, 9 Luuk van Troost, 10 Billy Stelling, 11 Jeroen Smits (wk).
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