Cricket: Richards to provide fire and inspiration

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THE AWESOME spectre of Vivian Richards hangs over Australia as they face up to their make or break World Cup game against the West Indies at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Richards has agreed to take over the coaching of the West Indies side as a replacement for Malcolm Marshall, who underwent abdominal surgery last weekend and is expected to remain in hospital for at least another week.

The appointment was announced on Thursday by the West Indies Cricket Board chief executive officer, Stephen Camacho, and Richards' first task will be to inspire his improving side to victory over the Australians, a result which could mean the end of the World Cup for Steve Waugh's side.

Australia already have problems going into this crucial game and Richards, the man who played a major part in their downfall in the first World Cup final at Lord's back in 1975, will be determined to inspire his side to victory.

While West Indies may still be waiting for their big batting guns to fire, Australia's famed pacemen are struggling to cope with English conditions, giving away runs and failing to make the key breakthroughs. Australia were unable to bowl out lowly Bangladesh on Thursday, allowing them to recover from 99 for 6 to reach 178 for 7 in their 50 overs.

While all-rounder Tom Moody, with 3 for 25, and leg-spinner Shane Warne, with 1 for 18, performed well, the pace trio of Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming and Brendon Julien went for 133 runs in the 30 overs they bowled between them for just three wickets. McGrath took 2 for 44 against Bangladesh, Fleming 1 for 45 and Julian 0 for 44.

Waugh was unwilling to dwell on his profligate bowlers at a post-match news conference, pausing only to offer encouragement to McGrath, the spearhead of Australia's attack who has proved unusually expensive.

"Glenn is frustrated because he knows he can do better," Waugh said. "All he needs is for one or two to land on the right spot and he'll be back into it."

But the Australian captain will need a much-improved performance by all his bowlers if they are to beat West Indies by a sufficient margin to take them through to the Super Six stage.

"They don't come any bigger than this. We have got to win this match or we're going home," said Waugh.