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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 13:19 GMT

A host of problems
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport

South Africa are the seventh successive Cricket World Cup hosts to fail to win the tournament.

Martin Peters (right) celebrates winning the World Cup in 1966 with captain Bobby Moore
Peters (right) relished playing all his games at Wembley in 1966
England, as hosts, have unsuccessfully attempted to lift the trophy on four occasions, while India, Australia and Pakistan have all fallen foul of the apparent curse of playing at home.

In stark contrast, history shows that teams in the football equivalent have been able to flourish in front of their own fans.

In six out of the 17 football World Cup finals, the hosts have triumphed.

And the positive influence showed again last year, when relative minnows South Korea stunned the sport by reaching the semi-finals in front of their home crowd.

Martin Peters was part of England's 1966-winning side which won the World Cup in front of a 93,000-strong crowd at Wembley.

He told the BBC Sport website: "In 1966, pressure was not an issue. I was just a young kid who was pleased to be there in whatever situation.

"As a footballer I always felt at my happiest playing at home. Maybe that just isn't the same for cricketers."

Football World Cup winners on home soil
1930: Uruguay
1934: Italy
1966: England
1974: Germany
1978: Argentina
1998: France

En route to winning football's ultimate prize for the first and only time, England played all their games at Wembley.

In stark contrast, South Africa's cricket side held their six group games at six different locations - Cape Town, Potchefstrom, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, East London and Durban.

Peters added: "We were fortunate to play our games at Wembley. We were settled, we knew what to expect and knew the pitch inside out.

"South Africa had a different crowd and different wicket to contend with each time."

Unlike Peters, former England captain Mike Gatting never won cricket's equivalent prize.

He played one tournament on home soil - in 1983 - but his side failed to even make the final.

He recalled: "In 1983 the pressure was on, which is unavoidable as hosts, to at least get to the final.

"The other countries have less pressure and therefore find it easier to perform. And everyone likes to lift themselves against the hosts.

Mike Gatting
Gatting believes footballing hosts have an advantage over cricket

"But, that said, I'm sure the pressure is equal in footballing terms."

For Gatting, the varying weather is the bigger deciding factor between the two sports.

He added: "Conditions are very important for football. When you go somewhere like South America, where it is hot, humid and in high altitude, home sides have a huge advantage.

"That plays a part in cricket but to a lesser extent. People do things for short periods of time - bowl 10 overs, bat for a time and field for an innings.

"But in football there is a seriously intense 90 minutes. Football is a lot more demanding, players have pretty hectic schedules and they're not used to these conditions.

"Admittedly Asian countries pose a problem for us cricketers. But we're used to touring there every year so are in pretty good order by the time the World Cups come around."

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