Australia eager to reinforce squad

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Australia are still awaiting permission from the World Cup organisers, Pilcom, to replace Craig McDermott, whose leg injury rules him out of the tournament. The fast bowler tore a calf muscle against Kenya on Friday and will fly home today.

Mark Taylor, Australia's captain, said yesterday no final decision had been made about who will fill the gap in the 14-man squad. "Our selectors are mulling over a replacement, but we still have not got the all-clear from Pilcom," he said. "Until they give us that we'll have to wait."

Either Damien Fleming or Shane Lee will deputise for McDermott against India in their group A match today, although Taylor made no attempt to disguise his disappointment at McDermott's injury. "Craig's our most experienced fast bowler, so losing him is a big blow," the Australia captain said.

Other squads have been caught temporarily short, as a number of players have fallen victim to diarrhoea. South African headed to Karachi for Thursday's Group B match against Pakistan with Jonty Rhodes suffering from what the team doctor described as "gastro flu".

The middle-order batsman and superb fielder was named the man of the match in South Africa's victory over England in Rawalpindi, a match that Allan Donald missed because of stomach trouble. However, the team doctor has passed the fast bowler to fit face Pakistan.

Illness has further affected the West Indies batsman, Brian Lara, and Australia's leg-spinner Shane Warne, while the Netherlands had seven players on the sick list on the eve of their opening match after they ate spaghetti.

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