Johannesburg: Coach John Buchanan says his Australian line-up will draw from its experience of winning the World Cup in 1999 to again take home the most coveted one-day trophy in cricket.
Australia are one-match from becoming the first team to win the World Cup three times and the first team to successfully defend it since Clive Lloyds’ West Indies in 1979.
The defending champions won the tournament for the first time in 1987 under Allan Border in Calcutta and then again in 1999 when Steve Waugh’s side beat Pakistan in a lop-sided final at Lord’s. Now record-breaking skipper Ricky Ponting awaits his turn as Australia bid to stretch their winning streak to an unprecedented 17 matches.
“Finals are a special time and it’s nice to have experience in finals, so I’ll probably be churning over that one, thinking about it a little bit to see whether there are things we can draw from that,” said Buchanan.
Fast bowler Glenn McGrath was a key member of the 1999 Cup winning side and so were Adam Gilchrist, Ponting, Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan, while Damien Martyn was a member of the 15-man squad. Geoff Marsh was coach of that team, handing the job over to Buchanan later that year.
“The main thing is that it’s history, so we don’t unnecessarily want to draw on what was achieved then, but certainly there may be the experience of playing in finals.
“There’s always a sense that there’s something special about the finals. The special thing about them is just to enjoy and really soak up the atmosphere of it, and not to hide from it but really to enjoy the experience of being there.”
It is the third consecutive World Cup final for Australia, which lost to Sri Lanka under Mark Taylor in 1996 in Lahore. Ponting, Bevan and McGrath, also members of that ’96 line-up, have experienced both defeat and victory in their World Cup careers but remain determined to underline Australia’s status as the best one-day side.
Buchanan attributes Australia’s success to the abundant depth in its squad, with allrounder Andrew Symonds and medium paceman Andy Bichel rising to the challenge when the more established players failed.
While Symonds’ batting saved the side from embarrassment against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Bichel, enjoying a new found status as an allrounder, figured prominently with the bat and ball as Australia overcame England and New Zealand in Port Elizabeth.
“I think that’s the strength of the side, isn’t it, or any side. If your so-called big guns are not firing then it’s other people you can fall back on,” Buchanan said. “It’s great that throughout the tournament, whenever we’ve been in some position of weakness, there’s been somebody who’s stepped up to the plate.”
Buchanan said it was important the results didn’t rely on so-called senior players.
“That’s been a real strength of the side and hopefully that continues into the final if required,” he said.