Why

Why

Sunday, 29 March 2015

AUSTRALIA'S FIVE RINGS IN WORLD CUP CRICKET

There are five rings in the Olympic flag. They signify inhabited continents of the world - Asia, Africa, Americas, Australia and Europe. A truly international platform consisting of events from different sports where athletes from all over the world from these continents come and compete for the top honours. 

In cricket, it is relatively a very small group of nations. The challenge are the conditions and champions are those who master and excel in different environment. Australia for the past three decades have been a dominant force in the limited overs and today they won their fifth World Cup victory. With it, they also became the only country to have won their World Cups in all the five inhabited continents where cricket is played.

FIVE WINS IN FIVE CONTINENTS
It all started in 1987 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata when they won their maiden trophy against the run of play. Allan Border, a tough cricketer and a great leader marshaled his young team of players and was instrumental in guiding the squad to win against their arch-rivals England. Asia, check!

Twelve years later, in 1999 it was the turn of Steve Waugh, who inspired through his batting and leadership first to qualify into the knock-outs and to see his bowlers deliver in the semi-finals and the finals against South Africa and Pakistan respectively. Europe, check!

In 2003, World Cup fever hits Africa for the first time, and Australia by then were consistently winning most of their matches in ODIs and Tests. They continued their dominance and were hardly stretched throughout the tournament and in the finals at Johannesburg, Ricky Ponting single-handedly took the World Cup away from the Indians courtesy of a captain's innings. The total was just too much for the Indians and they fell short by a large margin. Africa, check!

With rotation policy of awarding World Cups in full swing, it was the turn of the Caribbean islands to host the 2007 World Cup. Ricky Ponting and his team once again entered as favourites and at the end of it, it was hardly a surprise when they claimed their 4th title without losing a match. Americas, check!

If there is one place this team would have loved to win, it was in front of their home crowd. This year, there was an opportunity. Teams have hardly beaten Australia in their home matches in the recent years and they started the tournament as the #1 team. In spite of losing their group match against New Zealand, the team always remained a strong contender. Since that loss at Eden Park against their Trans-Tasman rival, they were hardly challenged in the following matches. The bowling was a big plus and in the end it was the bowlers who delivered with Mitchell Starc leading the attack. His 22 wickets along with the strike force of Johnson, accuracy of Hazelwood and variations of Faulkner paved the way for their fifth title and a first in their home continent.

In Melbourne, just as Steven Smith scored the winning runs, one could see the excitement - but it was as if the victory was expected. There were no emotions but for joy, the victory seemed from the players interviews that it was just another game. The enthusiasm of 1987 was missing, the jubilant faces from the 1999 was missing and like the previous two World Cup wins, this World Cup win too was a mere formality. Maybe it is the favourite's curse if you may call it; emotions flow if there is an upset or when you are the underdog. I am sure, the scenes would have been different had New Zealand been on the winning side.


In the end, who cares as long as you have one more World Cup in your cupboard. The fever of the World Cup would die down in a few weeks time and Michael Clarke would have plenty of time to reflect upon his wonderful ODI career both as a player and as a captain. Four captains, five World Cup titles and all of them in five different continents. Needless to say, we just witnessed one of the cricketing greats just go about their usual business and have claimed what they feel is rightfully theirs - the Cricket World Cup.