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Last Updated:  Monday, 13 January, 2003, 14:32 GMT

Paul Reiffel - 1999
Shane Warne and Steve Waugh kiss the World Cup
Australia produced a Lazarus-like effort to win the 1999 World Cup
Australia supplemented their success 12 years earlier with a World Cup win in England that was spiked with drama and controversy.

Seamer Paul Reiffel recalls a rollercoaster tournament that started slowly for Australia but gathered pace with two tense clashes against South Africa.

Australia started the tournament badly with losses to New Zealand and Pakistan in the opening three games. Why were you so slow out of the blocks?

We went into the World Cup as one of the favourites and maybe we took things a little easy early on. But you must remember the two teams we lost to went on to be semi-finalists.

It shook us a little bit and we realised we could be out so we knew we had to take a step up from then on.

The losses caused a personnel shake-up and you were one to come into the team. Were the early setbacks a blessing in disguise in that they forced Australia's best XI together?

I'm sure selectors started with the XI they thought was the best, but it just didn't work out that way.

Steve Waugh started out bowling Glenn McGrath first-change and after a couple of losses he reverted back to Glenn opening the bowling.

I was lucky because once he did there was an opening for me. Tom Moody came into the side, too, and we gradually settled into a World Cup-winning team.

We grew in confidence and by the end felt as if nobody could beat us.

Australia's final group game against West Indies was peculiar because you took over 40 overs to chase just 111 to win. What was the thinking behind that?

Because you carried points over from the group stage against sides you beat there was a chance we could get the West Indies into the Super Six stage by taking a long time to get the runs.

We wanted them in and not New Zealand but as it worked out New Zealand did enough to get there.

So we had to win all three games in the Super Six stage but we ended up doing it.

South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh in a Super Six game and the Aussie skipper scored a memorable ton which won the game. Was that the key passage in the tournament?

If Herschelle had hung onto that catch, Steve wouldn't have got that hundred and we wouldn't have won that game.

That was probably the best one-day ton I have seen. A single-minded man put his hand up and got us over the line that day.

The two teams then met in the semi, which was tied after South Africa threw away a winning position. Do you think they were haunted by the previous game?

Possibly. I think Australia probably have a psychological hold over them because of our ability to get on top at crucial moments in big games.

It was a pretty even game and there was nothing between the two sides. There was so much pressure out there so perhaps it was understandable they panicked in the final over.

You were probably the pick of the Aussie bowlers in that game. Was it a career highlight?

It was funny because I bowled really well but dropped Lance Klusener with 16 runs left and knocked the ball over the boundary line for six.

Most people remember that incident and don't really remember me bowling well, but I was happy with how I bowled towards the end of the World Cup.

The final against Pakistan was terribly one-sided. Was it an anti-climactic triumph for Australia?

After everything we'd been through we knew it was going to be our day and that nothing was going to stop us.

We did it quite easily in the end, and though it might have been an anti-climax for onlookers it was very satisfying for us.

There was a sour postscript to the match with rumours of Pakistan fixing the game. Did that taint Australia's win?

Not at all. No side would ever lie down in a World Cup final, it would mean too much.

To return home to Pakistan as World Cup winners would have been fantastic for them.

They were trying. Don't worry about that.

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