Sydney: Rival captains Steve Waugh and Nasser Hussain are unanimous: Australia are the best side in world cricket.
England’s comeback 225-run victory in the fifth Ashes Test here Monday coincided with South Africa’s move to the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings, courtesy a 2-0 series win against Pakistan.
Waugh said Australia remained No.1 and South Africa knew it, although he conceded Shaun Pollock’s men had achieved the difficult feat of beating India in their own backyard in 2000.
“South Africa deep down would know that we’re a better cricket side than them,” said Waugh, whose team thumped the Proteas 3-0 in Australia and 3-1 in South Africa in an unofficial world championship series last year.
“That’s not being big-headed, that’s being realistic, although from their point of view they can say they’ve won in the sub-continent, which we haven’t.
“So maybe there is some sense in the rankings.
“If they’ve done that, it’s a great achievement, but I think if you beat a side five times out of six in recent times and they’re ranked ahead of you, that seems a bit strange.”
Australia regards India as ‘the final frontier’ for undisputed world domination after losing a sensational series 1-2 in 2001.
England’s dominant performance at the Sydney Cricket Ground was Australia’s first Test loss at home in four years.
Australia won a world record 16 straight Tests between 1999 and 2001 and has won the Ashes eight consecutive times since 1989. It hasn’t lost a home series for ten years.
“If they’re not the best side in the world then we’ve got problems,” said Hussain. “All I can go on is my opinion and this side is the best side I’ve ever played against.”
Australia won the Ashes series 4-1, and Waugh and Hussain both averaged 38 with the bat over the five Tests.
“I think the guys were a bit flat going into this game,” Waugh said after the final Ashes Test.
“I think now, the players going to the World Cup, it’s more about man management, not overplaying them now and making sure that they’re peaking for the World Cup,” Waugh said.
“That’s where they’re going to be judged ... They will be judged on this next series but the most important series obviously is the World Cup.