Spin kings may give World Cup twist and turn

GROS ISLET, St Lucia, March 13, 2007 (AFP) – Just about the one thing captains at the World Cup seem to be agreed on is that pitches will generally be slow and assist spin bowlers.

Last week both England skipper Michael Vaughan and Australia captain Ricky Ponting talked up the tournament prospects of their frontline left-arm spinners, Monty Panesar and Brad Hogg respectively.

England are now in St Lucia, where they begin their World Cup programme proper against fellow Group C giants New Zealand at the island’s Beausejour ground on Friday.

And according to groundsman Kent Crafton, who has been at Beausejour since the venue opened five years ago, the teams here can look forward to good one-day cricket wickets rather than slow turners.

“One thing we’ve tried to do is put more compaction into the clay (the base layer of the pitch) to increase the pace and bounce,” Crafton told AFP.

“That will aid in the ball probably coming in with some more pace, not expressly, but just a little bit more than normal, which will aid in more runs being scored.

“It will be good wicket, I would not say it will be an exceptionally fast pitch but the ball will come off ni