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Close to perfection as Australia wins third World Cup title in a row

Close to perfection as Australia wins third World Cup title in a row

Perfection in sports is probably unattainable. Australia cricket coach John Buchanan thinks he's come pretty close.
Stepping down after eight years after Saturday's World Cup triumph, Buchanan has admitted in the past that is what he has been is seeking. Using his own interpretation, he may have achieved it.
"Each individual strives for perfection the whole time so, from a coach's point of view, that is the perfect team," he said. "The perfect team is the one that sets out to do its best day in and day out and that's what I've had the honor of coaching."
The surprise loss of five one-dayers to England and New Zealand a few months ago show that Buchanan's team is not quite perfect. But Australia revealed at the World Cup that there is a huge gulf between them and the rest of the world.
"To go through the World Cup and make major international cricketing countries look ordinary is pretty amazing," captain Ricky Ponting said after the final, in which Sri Lanka put up the strongest fight of any team in the Caribbean.
"We've dominated this tournament like no team has dominated a tournament before. We've never really been tested. In '03, there were a few situations where it looked like we were going to lose. In '99, it was the exact opposite. After two or three games, we had to win every game from there on in."
From the crushing 203-run victory over Scotland on March 14 in St. Kitts to Saturday's 53-run victory over the Sri Lankans in Barbados, only the harshest critic could fault Australia as it set off in single-minded pursuit of a third World Cup title in a row.
Adam Gilchrist struck the fastest century in World Cup final history on Saturday. But confessed after the match that self doubt had set in earlier in the tournament as he failed to convert starts into big scores.
"The standards this team sets itself are brilliant but if you fall behind you can even begin to doubt yourself a little bit," he said. That's when the support of the coaching staff and other players kicks in to help."
While Gilchrist struggled, relatively, fellow opener Matthew Hayden was bashing the ball around to frightening effect, scoring 659 runs in 10 innings, including three centuries. Captain Ricky Ponting hit more than 500 and Gilchrist topped 450 runs.
Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds were also in the runs, but less so simply because they weren't needed. Michael Hussey hardly got a look in. Australia was never more than six men down in a match and some batsmen had to be brought up the order just to give them time in the middle.
One by one during the tournament Australia ticked off the key victories. England posed few questions and New Zealand suffered its biggest ever one-day international defeat, sweet revenge for its audacity during the Chappell-Hadlee series in New Zealand, when Ponting and a few key players were rested before the trip to the Caribbean.
India and Pakistan disappeared without testing anyone, their teams hit by what is certain to be cyclical dips in form.
The Australian bowling, despite the recent retirement of spinner Shane Warne and injury to paceman Brett Lee, was difficult to cope with.
Ponting tended to use Nathan Bracken and Shaun Tait as his strike bowlers and the 37-year-old Glenn McGrath as first change. Brad Hogg replaced Warne and ended up as the tournament's fourth most successful bowler with 21 after Tait (23), Muttiah Muralitharan (23) and McGrath (26), who was best bowler and player of the tournament.
Between the four of them they took 86 wickets and Ponting said he was sure there were other bowlers keen to pick up the baton from McGrath, who retired from cricket after Saturday's game.
And then there was Australia's fielding. Honed by U.S. college baseball fielding coach Mike Young, the players showed speed and skill in the field that intimidated batsmen into refusing safe singles.
With three consecutive World Cup titles under their belt, who's going to bet against them winning a fourth?


Updated : 2021-01-18 18:15 GMT+08:00