Sobers backs Gilchrist over series in NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sobers backs Gilchrist over series in NZ

By Greg Buckle 22/02/2007 05:46:46 AM Comments (0)

West Indies great Garfield Sobers on Wednesday backed Australia vice-captain Adam Gilchrist's view that this week's Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand was poorly timed.

Sobers also expressed confidence in Australia's ability to mount a strong World Cup title defence next month, despite a growing injury list and five consecutive defeats against England and the Black Caps.

"I think they will now realise what they have to do and they will get it right by the time they arrive in the Caribbean," Sobers told reporters in India.

"Australia is always a force to reckon with. (But) I think they should have waited until after the World Cup to play the series," he said of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, won 3-0 by the hosts.

Gilchrist skipped the series to remain at home with wife Mel - who is due to give birth to the couple's third child.

"I'm going to be brutally honest here and say I don't think too many people wanted it on at all," Gilchrist told Fox Sports' Inside Cricket on Monday night.

"We've had a very hectic summer ... the administrators have got a very difficult job trying to fit all these games in.

"New Zealand were really keen to play this series because it's in their country, they're getting three bumper crowds ... and they haven't had a great deal of international cricket played over there in recent times. So they were keen for it.

"But if you had to be really specific about the Australian cricket team, we didn't need this series at the moment, and it would have been nice to have that little bit of time for everyone to be at home freshening up and getting ready for the World Cup."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was also rested from the series in New Zealand, while Brett Lee (ankle) and Matthew Hayden (toe) suffered injuries which threaten their participation in the World Cup.

Sobers, one of Wisden's five cricketers of the 20th century, says the Windies are a good chance to claim the World Cup on home turf, after reaching the final of the Champions Trophy in India three months ago against Australia.

"If you had asked me three years ago, I'd have said West Indies definitely did not have a chance," he said.

"But in the last year or so, West Indies seem to have turned the corner. And playing at home is going to give them a little bit of advantage."

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