WORCESTERSHIRE'S players are "champing at the bit" to entertain Australia on Monday after yesterday's World Cup warm-up match against Zimbabwe at New Road was ruined by rain.

Only ten overs were possible before the wet weather left the County high and dry on 45-1.

New Road coach Bill Athey said: "Having any international side at Worcester is obviously a spectacle, but unfortunately the weather spoiled it for everybody.

"The players have been on and off the field almost all season. Nobody has actually got into a rhythm and they are champing at the bit to play."

Their next chance is on Monday in the centenary match against the Aussies.

Athey said: "It's going to be a big match and will be excellent practice for us. No doubt we will all learn something from it.

"We will be going out there to win. It's 11 against 11 and if we play well on the day who knows?"

Worcestershire have not yet decided on their side, but could include batsman Reuben Spiring who was due to play for Kidderminster against Stratford in a Birmingham League match today as part of his comeback programme after long-term knee trouble.

Athey said: "It all depends on how he gets on. He had a good fielding session on Thursday and had no real after-effects. He may be okay, fingers crossed."

Zimbabwe coach David Houghton was also frustrated by yesterday's rain-wrecked match which was abandoned shortly after play finally started at 2pm.

It had been hoped to play 30 overs-a-side but the clouds quickly gathered as soon as Worcestershire went out to bat.

The only dismissal was that of Phil Weston -- run out following a throw from square leg by Murray Goodwin, for eight off Heath Steak.

Paul Pollard, dropped at point by Grant Fowler off Streak, ended up unbeaten on 12 as did Vikram Solanki.

Former Worcestershire coach Houghton said: "It's been very disappointing. We are desperate for match practice. We have trained and now we need to put it into play.

"Even the ten overs we did play was on an ice rink. The bowlers never got any rhythm at all and fielding was tough."

And Houghton's hopes of playing today were dashed by World Cup rules.

"We we were told the World Cup committee wouldn't make any changes to the schedule. Those are the rules and we have to stick to them."

Friday, May 7, 1999.