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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 15:33 GMT
Awesome Australia
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in Potchefstroom

In completing a record-equalling 11th consecutive one-day international victory, Australia seem to abide by a single motto: Whatever it takes to get the job done.

The fact Ricky Ponting's men set five new World Cup records on their way to that victory was by-the-by.

The 256-run win was the largest margin of victory in any one-day international, Glenn McGrath's seven for 15 set a new tournament mark, as did Adam Gilchrist's six catches.

And Darren Lehmann smashed the most runs ever from a World Cup over - 28 off the luckless Rudi van Vuuren off the final over of the innings.

HIGHEST VICTORY ODI MARGINS
256 runs - Australia bt Namibia, Potchefstroom, 2003
245 runs - Sri Lanka bt India, Sharjah, 2000/01
233 runs - Pakistan bt Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1999/00
232 runs - Australia bt Sri Lanka, Adelaide, 1984/85
224 runs - Australia bt Pakistan, Nairobi, 2002/03

In terms of talent they have few rivals but what makes Australia hot favourites to repeat as World Cup champions is their mental approach.

Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist admitted on the eve of the win the team had not given much thought to tying the mark of Clive Lloyd's West Indians of 1984/85.

And with good reason: the revelations over Shane Warne have left them with enough on their minds.

Not only did they have to over make up for the loss of their leading wicket-taker from World Cup '99, but there was also the surrounding media scrutiny to deal with.

There was a minor hiccup on the morning the news about Warne became public, before normal service was resumed with an Andrew Symonds century and an 82-run win over Pakistan.

India were brutalised the following weekend, bowled out for 120 on their way to a nine-wicket defeat.

Glenn McGrath responds to the crowd
McGrath responds to the crowd after his seventh wicket
But the real indicators of Australia's class were their other two victories in Group A, over Holland and Zimbabwe.

The only obstacle to victory over the Europeans was bad weather in Potchefstroom, which threatened to rob Australia's bowlers of enough time to bowl Holland out.

Ponting responded by bringing his spinners into action from the 11th over.

Lehmann and Andrew Symonds zoomed through 15 overs in just 38 minutes to get past the vital 25-over mark to make the game valid.

While England worried about security in Harare, Australia formulated a plan for Bulawayo to affect a lightning raid on Zimbabwe.

A charter jet was hired to get the team and their entourage into the strife-torn country on Sunday afternoon.

There was time for a quick net that evening and the merry band were on their way immediately after completing a seven-wicket win.

That preparation extends to training, where a group of happy-go-lucky cricketers strolling from drill to drill belies a session that has been meticulously planned to make good any weakness in each individual.

Coach John Buchanan is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, utilising a baseball coach full-time in the part to work on fielding techniques, and employing parachutes as a means of strength training.

Every squad-member plays a part, strengthening Buchanan┐s assertion his strongest side is whichever 11 he picks from 15.

When Warne and Glenn McGrath were injured during the recent VB Series, Brad Hogg and Brad Williams slotted into the attack with barely a missed beat.

Australia invented the concept of squad rotation but, as they close on the holy grail, they have already committed to keeping the same 11, injuries permitting, for the rest of the tournament.

The aim is to build their momentum throughout and, says Ponting, be "cherry ripe" for every game and every training session.

Where can the Australian machine go from here? What records are their left?

"There's one to break," said Ponting, simply, after the match. "But we certainly won't think about the record.

"We'll prepare for this England side, put together a plan and hopefully execute well on the day."

After this match, the word "execute" has even more resonance for Australia's opponents.




SEE ALSO
Full scorecard
19 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Australia v Namibia: Over-by-over
27 Feb 03 |  Team Pages
Have Your Say on Australia
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Have Your Say on Namibia
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Australia trounce Namibia
27 Feb 03 |  Photo Galleries


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