Southampton: Across the Atlantic, millions of Americans are bracing for Hurricane Ivan. However, at the Rose Bowl on Monday, Team USA was torn to bits by Hurricane Australia as the world champions won their opening Champions Trophy match by nine wickets and in under eight overs.
Only, victorious captain Ricky Ponting was anything but pleased. 'I hope the Americans have learnt something from the game, otherwise, it has been a waste of time... Having sides like the USA in either the World Cup or the current tournament doesn't serve much purpose,' he said in the most blunt manner possible.
In Ponting's opinion, such teams should first dominate the second-tier competitions, over a length of time, before getting to play against the very best. That way, fewer red faces will be around.
Not with the same candidness, but Ponting's thoughts were mirrored by quite a few even after the 2003 World Cup, when Canada, Holland and Namibia didn't exactly catch anybody's imagination.
The International Cricket Council has to strike a balance between promoting the sport and ensuring premier tournaments don't get devalued.
Ponting won the toss and with conditions conducive for the new-ball operators, put the USA in. The Australians, in fact, chose to field four quicks and the annihilation was fast.
'Not nervous but, yes, we were jittery,' admitted captain Richard Staple, adding: 'After all, Brett Lee is among the fastest of all time and Glenn McGrath among the greatest...'
The damage, though, was almost wholly done by MoM Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie. Both grabbed four wickets each, with Kasprowicz conceding one less.
Requiring 66 in 50 overs, the Australians blasted through in a mere 7.5, ensuring their run rate remained better than New Zealand's in case that became a factor at The Oval later in the week.
If anything, the Australians' intensity was fierce ' in a chat with The Telegraph on Sunday, Ponting had promised there would be no let-up. There wasn't.
Staple, who tried being confident on match-eve, was pretty deflated after the inside-one-session finish.
'Realistically, we couldn't have beaten the best... The defeats (at New Zealand's hands and here) won't, however, have a detrimental effect,' he maintained.
Now, the Staples are going to prepare for the 2007 World Cup qualifying competition (the ICC Trophy), in Ireland next summer. The time to reflect, then, is plenty.