Egg on my face

29 04 2007


Way back in mid-February I expressed my doubts about Australia’s ability to win a third successive Cricket World Cup. At that time, they had just lost a tri-series to England and were in the middle of a shocker of a tour of New Zealand. Yes, the side was missing key players like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds; but next-generation players including Phil Jacques, Cameron White, Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken also failed to rise to the occasion. Moreover, that tour saw the career of last year’s international number one one-day cricketer Mike Hussey–often touted as a successor to Ponting–come crashing down to earth. (What is it about sport that causes one to write in horrible cliches?)

Since that tour–and all matches since that tour have either been practice or official World Cup matches–Australia has won 13 successive encounters, including last night’s World Cup final:

Australia v Zimbabwe at Kingstown – Mar 6, 2007
Australia won by 106 runs. Australia 290/7 (50 ov); Zimbabwe 184/7 (50 ov)

Australia v England at Kingstown – Mar 9, 2007
Australia won by 5 wickets (with 55 balls remaining). England 197 (48.3 ov); Australia 200/5 (40.5 ov)

2nd Match, Group A: Australia v Scotland at Basseterre – Mar 14, 2007
Australia won by 203 runs. Australia 334/6 (50 ov); Scotland 131 (40.1 ov)

10th Match, Group A: Australia v Netherlands at Basseterre – Mar 18, 2007
Australia won by 229 runs. Australia 358/5 (50 ov); Netherlands 129 (26.5 ov)

22nd Match, Group A: Australia v South Africa at Basseterre – Mar 24, 2007
Australia won by 83 runs. Australia 377/6 (50 ov); South Africa 294 (48 ov)

25th Match, Super Eights: West Indies v Australia at North Sound – Mar 27-28, 2007
Australia won by 103 runs. Australia 322/6 (50 ov); West Indies 219 (45.3 ov)

29th Match, Super Eights: Australia v Bangladesh at North Sound – Mar 31, 2007
Australia won by 10 wickets (with 49 balls remaining). Bangladesh 104/6 (22/22 ov); Australia 106/0 (13.5/22 ov)

35th Match, Super Eights: Australia v England at North Sound – Apr 8, 2007
Australia won by 7 wickets (with 16 balls remaining). England 247 (49.5 ov); Australia 248/3 (47.2 ov)

40th Match, Super Eights: Australia v Ireland at Bridgetown – Apr 13, 2007
Australia won by 9 wickets (with 226 balls remaining). Ireland 91 (30 ov); Australia 92/1 (12.2 ov)

43rd Match, Super Eights: Australia v Sri Lanka at St George’s – Apr 16, 2007
Australia won by 7 wickets (with 44 balls remaining). Sri Lanka 226 (49.4 ov); Australia 232/3 (42.4 ov)

47th Match, Super Eights: Australia v New Zealand at St George’s – Apr 20, 2007
Australia won by 215 runs. Australia 348/6 (50 ov); New Zealand 133 (25.5 ov)

2nd Semi-Final: Australia v South Africa at Gros Islet – Apr 25, 2007
Australia won by 7 wickets (with 111 balls remaining). South Africa 149 (43.5 ov); Australia 153/3 (31.3 ov)

Final: Australia v Sri Lanka at Bridgetown – Apr 28, 2007
Australia won by 53 runs (D/L method). Australia 281/4 (38/38 ov); Sri Lanka 215/8 (36/36 ov)

As you can see, not only have Australia won every encounter–in each match they have either beaten their opponents comprehensively, or thrashed them soundly. Along the way, Glenn McGrath has broken the record for most wickets taken during a World Cup with his 25, with next-generation player Shaun Tait close behind him on 23 (equal with Muttiah Muralitharan’s haul). New-guard batsmen Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Brad Hodge all finished with higher averages than players like Ponting and Hayden and Gilchrist, though each of the latter scored more runs. And all of this has been achieved with a key player, the once-seemingly untouchable Hussey, woefully out of form. (Though to be fair to Hussey, those higher up the order didn’t give him a lot of time at the crease.)

So there it is: an embarrassingly easy tournament for Australia, a fairytale ending to McGrath’s career, and egg well-and-truly on my face.

STATISTICS

Man of the match (final): Adam Gilchrist
Player of the series: Glenn McGrath
Best bowling averages: Glenn McGrath (13.04; 25 wickets), Muttiah Muralitharan (13.34; 23 wickets)
Best batting strike rates: Mark Boucher (137.20; 177 runs), Brad Hodge (129.91; 152 runs)
Best bowling in an innings: Andrew Hall, South Africa (5/18 vs. England); Charl Langeveldt, South Africa (5/39 vs. Sri Lanka)
Highest score (batting): Imran Nazir, Pakistan (160 vs. Zimbabwe); Matthew Hayden, Australia (158 vs. West Indies)

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