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The Electronic Telegraph Warm-up match: Worcestershire v Zimbabwe
Martin Searby at Worcester - 7 May 1999

Zimbabwe left kicking their heels

Worcs 45-1 (10 overs), match abandoned v Zimbabwe

The World Cup campaign started with a whimper at New Road when only 10 overs were possible on a grey, sodden day which left Zimbabwe desperately short of match practice.

David Houghton, their coach, hoped a second day would be allowed but the organising committee refused a tentative request. ``I would have played tomorrow,'' Houghton said, ``but we got no further than discussing the idea. We were told there could be no change to the schedule.

``Apart from a triangular tournament in Bangladesh last month, we haven't been out in the middle. There's such a thing as practising too much so that it has a negative effect and we need to play some competitive cricket.''

Houghton added that he would be disappointed if his 66-1 outsiders failed to qualify from Group A and, given their record of five out of six victories over England and five wins against India (2), Sri Lanka (2) and Pakistan in their last 10 games, it is hard to argue.

``We've been brought up playing cricket against sides in the subcontinent who know more about this sort of game than anybody else,'' he said. ``We've got a well- balanced squad to suit all conditions and I think we can qualify from the group.''

The unacceptable face of the competition was also illustrated yesterday with a poorly produced 20-page programme costing 2.50 and the news that the 10 overseas umpires were expected to travel by train and were to receive a miserly allowance of 45 a day to cover fares, taxis and food.

Rudi Koertzen, the South African on duty at Worcester, had to drag three heavy bags overnight to Northampton and said: ``It's not a lot of fun and at this rate I'll end up out of pocket.''

But last night, after representations to the World Cup organising committee, it is understood that the overseas officials are to received an undisclosed lump sum to make up the shortfall.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk