Aussie warm-up washed out

JOHANNESBURG - Persistent rain in Potchefstroom has led to the cancellation of Australia's scheduled warm-up match against a South African Invitation XI that was due to start today.Instead, the tourists will train at the indoor centre in Centurion, which is also the venue of the first Test, and hope the weather clears so they can get some outdoor practice as well.

Australia arrived in South Africa last Wednesday and went straight to Potchefstroom, their preferred practice venue on every visit to the country, but rain has played havoc with their plans.

Their first practice session last Friday was moved indoors because of wet weather. They managed outdoor training on both Saturday and Sunday but with downpours forecast for the rest of the week, decided not to risk staying in the university town with the possibility of no cricket.

The team moved to Johannesburg yesterday and will use the facilities at SuperSport Park today. South Africa have also assembled in the city and their planned three-day game against a composite XI will go ahead at the Wanderers, despite the rain.

Although showers are predicted for every day this week, South Africa will stick to their plan of getting match-time to combat what was described as a penchant for starting slowly in Test series. They have the advantage of the Wanderers drainage, which displayed its quality just three days' ago.

On Friday, heavy rain throughout the day made it seem unlikely the domestic T20 match between the Lions and the Cobras would take place. But, the skies closed as the start neared, the game began on time and a full fixture was possible.

The new arrangements mean only South Africa will have match time under their belt ahead of the three Test series, which starts next Wednesday, although their break from the whites has been longer. South Africa last played Test cricket five weeks ago against India while Australia's Ashes ended less than a month ago.

This is the second time this summer a touring team's practice match has been cancelled in South Africa. In December, India's two-day fixture had to be called off because of a soaked outfield at Willowmoore Park in Benoni. Although there was no rain on the day of the match and the pitch was heavy, an unusually high water table meant the playing surface was not ready in time. – cricinfo

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