Date: November 20, 2023
By Hanna Rose
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Despite India’s dominance in the business side of global cricket across various metrics, Australia demonstrated that commercial influence takes a backseat when teams compete on the grandest stage of the game.
The World Cup final on Sunday, set against the backdrop of a pitch less favorable to pace bowlers and enthusiastic blue-clad fans, seemed tailor-made for the hosts to secure an unbeaten championship victory. However, Australia, led by Travis Head’s century and their formidable trio of fast bowlers, secured a convincing six-wicket win, marking what may be considered their most exceptional achievement in the six World Cup triumphs.
After clinching the World Test Championship in June, Pat Cummins’s team has showcased excellence across formats and is now eyeing a potential sweep of the game’s major prizes at the upcoming T20 World Cup in the United States and West Indies.
While Australia’s previous ‘golden era’ from 1999-2007, under captains Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, looms large, some argue that Cummins’s squad is at least worthy of comparison.
“They’ve won a T20 World Cup, they’re the world test champions, and now they’re the World Cup winners in India,” remarked former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special. “This group now needs to be talked about in a similar vein.”
In contrast to the nail-biting 2019 final, where England edged New Zealand, the Ahmedabad final was not as gripping. Australia, however, is known for not engaging in nail-biters; their opponents in finals are systematically overwhelmed by technical brilliance and impeccable execution.
Since their 1996 final loss to Sri Lanka, Australia has convincingly defeated every team they faced in the decider. The trend continued in the latest final in Ahmedabad, where Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood collectively took seven wickets, stifling an Indian batting lineup that had dominated the tournament.
Australia’s fielding, earlier criticized in the tournament for dropped catches, was impeccable in the final, denying India a boundary for an hour at one point.
Cummins, previously facing doubts about his captaincy, has now joined the ranks of Waugh, Ponting, and Allan Border as Australia’s title-winning captains. His leadership, evident in strategic decisions, bowling changes, and taking Virat Kohli’s wicket, played a pivotal role in shaping a team that excels under pressure.
“I thought his leadership actually has got better and better right through the tournament,” praised Ponting on Sky Sports. “So he thoroughly deserves every plaudit that comes his way as far as leadership is concerned.”
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