Former Australia captain Bobby Simpson, who was consultant to Team India during the 1999 World Cup, says MS Dhoni's men need to show how much they want to win this World Cup
A lot of things are extraordinary about Bobby Simpson's long association with the game. The most famous aspect about him is coming out of international cricket retirement to captain Australia at the age of 41 in 1977 when the top players joined Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a huddle with his teammates ahead of the fifth ODI against New Zealand in Wellington in January 2014 (Pic/AFP) and Inset Bobby Simpson
The fact that Simpson (79) has been part of four World Cup teams is incredible too. Cricket's first international team coach guided Australia to victory in the 1987 World Cup before the 1992 and 1996 editions.
In 1999, he was part of the Indian team as consultant and three-time World Cupper Ajit Agarkar remembered his fielding and catching sessions in England in appreciative terms. "They were fun," said Agarkar.
Simpson is not reading too much into India's woeful form in the recent triangular series. "They are a bit up and down at the moment, but they are a very good cricket team. I was sorry to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni go as Test captain. He was marvelous.
India have always had a bunch of great natural talent. They've got to combine well, get together and have one thing in mind and that is the World Cup. They must show how much they want to win it," Simpson told mid-day from Sydney.
'Pitches won't be doctored'
Although Simpson stressed that Australia has not been a "happy hunting ground" for India, he ruled out any doctoring of wickets. "Each wicket in Australia is different and they have been different for 100 years.
Sydney can spin a bit, Perth is very, very quick, Brisbane is quick too and Adelaide has the best batting track in Australia. There's not going to be any fiddling around with the pitches, I can assure you that," said Simpson.
Australia's form and solidity earn them the right to be called favourites but Simpson, although he did not want to talk about it, knows what happened in 1992 when his Allan Border-led team failed to live up to their top billing.
"There has never been a team with no weakness. Australia are a good cricket team, but they have to play very, very well and if they do, they will give it a real big shot. Playing at home will make a difference. Provided our fast bowlers stay fit, Australia will start as favourites," he said.
Neighbours New Zealand have impressed Simpson: "I would never under-write New Zealand. I'd be surprised if they don't make the last four. And we have not mentioned South Africa as yet. They are a very fine team."