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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Columns > Peter Roebuck

Aussies not invincible

February 05, 2003

Australia will not try to defend its World Cup trophy. Australians cannot defend anything. Attack is their game -- a relentless bombardment of opponents -- with hooks, drives, bumpers, leg-breaks and curses forming a potent and often irresistible brew. Australia is a land of bright colours, harsh terrain and loud noises, where nature is seen at its most fierce. It is not a country for the timid. Those hoping to overcome the Australians must look them in the eye and stand their ground.

Under a new captain and with some aging warriors pushed into retirement the Aussies will attack. From the first ball faced by Adam Gilchrist to the last hurled down by Brett Lee, the holders will try to dominate their opponents. Nor is their aggression merely sound and fury, for the Australians also play a thinking game. They are scientific fighters.

Ricky PontingRicky Ponting's nomination as captain reflects this boldness of spirit. In his younger days, he was a scalawag. Not for him the life of sobriety and celibacy recommended in all the leading manuals. Eventually, he was obliged to admit that he had a drinking problem. Growing up in the public gaze is not the easiest of tasks for anyone, let alone a roughie from Launceston, an outpost on an island often forgotten when maps of Australia are drawn. Remarkably, the youngster called a press conference, said all the stories were true, thanked journalists for their discretion and set about building a responsible life. Ever since, and often beforehand, he has cut an impressive figure.

Ponting is a forceful, intuitive and respected leader of a strong team. Early in his tenure he told Lee that silk pyjamas cannot be sold in supermarkets. Economy was expected, even from fast bowlers. His team has responded well to his captaincy and, at full strength, will be hard to beat. Amongst opposing teams only South Africa and, perhaps, New Zealand could reasonably hope to beat them twice in three matches.

The batting is powerful, hungry and experienced. Matthew Hayden and Gilchrist have forged a dangerous opening partnership. Chasing England's wretched 117 in Sydney, this pair batted with such exhilaration that the runs were scored in 12 overs. Gilchrist averages 32 but scores at a run-a-ball. Ponting can dazzle at first drop and fields superbly . Damien Martyn provides the sensible counterpoint to these brazen adventurers, placing the ball through point from a short backlift. Darren Lehmann is a burly, adroit collector of runs whose roundarmers have proved hard to hit. Michael Bevan is simply the best finisher in the game, a master of timing and placement whose flicks, darts and occasional thumps have sustained numerous innings.

Australia's bowling is also strong, with Glenn McGrath's relentless accuracy working alongside Jason Gillespie's pace and Lee's hostility. Shane Warne follows, with all the tricks of the trade and a few of his own creation. Every year he announces the discovery of a deadly new delivery. Mostly they go straight through. Warne is retiring from 50-over cricket after this tournament and will be desperate to succeed . He is not a man to underestimate.

Ponting's team must sound invincible. It is not. Australia has some weakpoints and a few headaches. All-rounders are as thin on the ground as amiable koalas. Andrew Symonds and Ian Harvey have not made their marks whilst Brad Hogg's left-arm wrist spinners baffle Englishmen. Sooner or later troubles will arise and then Australia will need strong contributions from these supposed all-rounders. Superb cricketers have been left behind. Nor does Andrew Bichel convince as reserve fast bowler.

Moreover, Australia will be vulnerable in its first few matches. Darren Lehmann's outburst means he misses the meeting with Pakistan and Bevan's mishap was even worse news, because, once damaged, groins are notoriously unreliable. He might miss the second match with India.

Remarkably, Warne's shoulder has healed in a month and he looks fighting fit, but he cannot throw and is a liability in the field. McGrath and Gillespie have missed matches recently, leaving the much-improved Lee to lead the attack.

Despite these reservations the Australians will play with confidence and ambition. Opponents must put them under pressure in the opening matches, taking advantage of a wounded foe. Once momentum builds. Australians can take an awful lot of stopping.

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Number of User Comments: 39

Sub: aussies are now beatable

The Australian team is now slipping from its prime as the best players are getting on in years and more importantly their game tactics especially ...

Posted by subbarao

Sub: Australia can't win

I am sure Aussies can't even get to the semifinals. They can only if Sachin and Sehwag are injured.

Posted by Mahendra

Sub: Aussies

Read the article. Every journalist is jumping in the Australian Band Wagon. So Peter you also go ahead. We will see what you have to ...

Posted by yasho

Sub: Aus is the best team in the tournament...but even the best teams have their worst days

Yeah....i feel australia has the best chance of winning the cup...right now they have everything going their way. But as Mr Boycott would say..."Its Crickiit"....& ...

Posted by Subhash Arya


ausies can't beat opponants like india and pakistan consistently. let them be any powerful. indians and pakistan are danger to them even higher than south ...

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