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‘Mindset’ or ‘In-DNA’: Australia’s Old and Consistent Formula of Winning World Cups

Australia win another ODI World Cup in 2023

After the conclusion of the recent ODI World Cup in India last year, one thing that everyone found saying was: “Winning is in the blood of the Kangaroos!” Well, is it a DNA factor that was passed on from generation to generation for Australia or is there some anomaly that has been going on all this while?

Let’s take a deeper dive to understand this, as the Australian Legacy when narrated to children does seem at times too good to be true!

Australia everywhere
©- CricTracker/ Twitter
1987 ODI World Cup, the starting point of Australian dominance:

As we try and get to know about the very moment that put Australia on the map of World Cricket, we must bring in their inaugural World Cup win in 1987. They came in as an ordinary team but left the tournament elevating themselves to an extraordinary team.

To understand what went on in 1987, we need to discuss the Marsh Family. Let’s start with Father Marsh or to be precise Geoff Marsh.

He was one of the slowest ODI batters of his era, perhaps of all time. This was not by default but rather a deliberate strategy instructed to him. Marsh pioneered the role of an anchor in ODI cricket. He was also the first to fully embrace and articulate his responsibility to bat for extended hours, allowing his teammates to score more quickly around him.

In 1987, Marsh played a pivotal role, securing the second-highest run tally in the tournament. It marked the beginning of Australia’s World Cup victories, with Marsh adept at running singles and facing dot balls.

Fast forward 36 years and 11 days later, his son Mitch Marsh found himself batting at number three for Australia. In two World Cups hosted in India, the father-son duo played crucial roles, contributing to 400-run totals and clinching two tournament victories.

But there was a difference in the way both scored 400+ runs in their respective series. Geoff Marsh was ahead of his time by adopting a deliberate, slow-paced approach in his batting. On the other hand, Mitch Marsh has taken on the role of a number three enforcer, a position less commonly seen in other teams.

This unique strategy once again positions Australia as trailblazers, staying ahead of the game in the world of cricket.

1987 WC winning by Australia
©- ICC/ Twitter
But was it only Marsh’s conventional batting that was special in 1987 or there were other advantages too?

Yes! Indeed, there was. Craig McDermott’s legacy may not be as prominent today for he often gets overlooked amid the array of talented Australian bowlers who followed him. McDermott excelled in both Test and ODI formats as a strike bowler, setting him apart.

In this particular series, he consistently bowled quickly and emerged as the leading wicket-taker. Interestingly, many of his wickets came from his off-cutting slower ball, which was relatively new at that time.

Australia had a dearth in the spin department. Tim May’s effectiveness didn’t translate well into ODIs. Consequently, the team heavily relied on their pace bowlers to step up, and McDermott’s off-cutter played a crucial role.

 

Steve Waugh, later known for his seasoned and strategic approach, showcased a more dynamic and aggressive side in this series, reminiscent of a young Dwayne Bravo. He contributed with both bat and ball, unleashing slower balls to outwit opponents.

Australia’s success in this World Cup was also attributed to their exceptional fielding. Similar to their efficient running between the wickets, their fielding was a result of their fitness.

While glimpses of these strategies were evident earlier in the West Indies, Australia played a pivotal role in popularizing and refining these approaches.

Next stop, year 1999:

Having horrendous ’92 and ’96 campaigns, ’99 also started pretty bad. The major reason attributed to this was the choice to open with Adam Dale over the mighty Glen McGrath. Dale was a decent outswing bowler but they had the best new ball bowler ever in McGrath. Once they reversed their decision, Australia was back again to their winning ways.

Australia encountered challenges with their team selection, opting for Brendon Julian and Shane Lee over Andrew Symonds and Ian Harvey, both of whom struggled in their roles. Fortunately, the inclusion of Tom Moody, a spare all-rounder from the 1987 squad, was crucial. Moody showcased an impressive economy rate of 4.3 and contributed with a striking strike rate of 130.

In the Super Six and semi-final, Waugh delivered impactful innings that rescued the team from potential embarrassment.

Even when Waugh faltered, Michael Bevan stepped up. Bevan, the only player before the year 2000 to average 50, played a crucial role.

Australia snatching 1999 victory
©-ESPNCricinfo/ Twitter

Despite being a strong team on paper, Australia’s overall performance in this tournament wasn’t stellar. However, the collective efforts of Warne, Waugh, McGrath, and Bevan proved to be enough in the end.

This actually highlights the fact that it isn’t a commanding performance that this team aims at, but ensures one or the other guy just hangs in there always to get things done at the end.

After all, in the end, win matters, how you win it is not something people would remember in the long run. Everybody watches out for the one who crossed the finishing line, nobody cares who is leading when the race is on.

Bevan guiding Australia to another World Cup in 2003:

During the ’03 World Cup, Bevan emerged as the savior, rescuing from precarious situations. In matches against New Zealand and England, Bevan with the tailenders secured respectable totals. Notably, Andy Bichel, initially not intended as a primary player, stepped in for the injured Jason Gillespie. Bichel excelled with the ball, taking 16 wickets at an average of 12.

Brad Hogg, a late replacement for Warne due to a drug ban, took 13 wickets at an average of 24. Overall, Australia’s bowling performance in the ’03 World Cup was historic, taking 101 wickets at an astonishing average of 18. This made them the best bowling team in World Cup history by average, achieving this feat even with two of their top four bowlers absent.

Warner’s Test Farewell: A Symphony of Switch Hits, Reverse Sweeps, and Pitch-perfect Goodbyes at SCG

Star-studded team grabs another cup in 2007:

The 2007 Australian team stands out not only as the best in Australian cricket history but quite possibly as the finest ODI team ever assembled. Their flawless performance included winning every game, amassing 671 runs more than their opponents, taking 40 wickets, and having 446 balls in hand.

The top order was in exceptional form with Hayden delivering the second-greatest series by an opener, Gilchrist crafted a Cup-winning hundred, and Ponting had an impressive average of 67.

Despite the absence of Warne, who never returned to ODIs, his understudy Hogg stepped up and claimed 21 wickets at an impressive average of 16. Despite Hogg retiring from international cricket a year later, Australia, known for their confidence bordering on arrogance, did not seem concerned at all.

Their depth allowed them to seamlessly transition to new talents, reinforcing their dominance in the cricketing world.

2015 an easy win on the home turf:

Mitchell Starc played a pivotal role in almost sealing the victory. He secured 22 wickets at an average of 10.

Australia’s top-order batters were exceptional, with five players averaging over 40. Notably, three of them achieved this at better than a run a ball, including Warner, Haddin, and Watson, who boasted strike rates over 100. Glenn Maxwell’s remarkable strike rate of 180 added to the team’s batting firepower.

MS Dhoni remarked that Australia’s rapid scoring played a significant role in their victory in the semi-final. And the finals? Let’s not talk about it, Kiwis were treated as mere toys to play with at MCG.

Australia for another reason
Picture- ©Pat Cummins/Twitter

2023- probably their worst team still managing to get the cup:

The 2023 victory showcased Australia’s resurgence after a challenging start. Initially perceived as disorganized, the team displayed tactical brilliance in the final, led by captain Pat Cummins.

While it may not be in their blood, there’s a consistent trend in Australia’s wins – a wealth of high-quality fast bowlers. Fast bowlers, who contribute to 67% of wickets in ODIs, have consistently played a crucial role for Australia.

The team boasts the best seam average, strike rate, and second-greatest economy, crucial factors reflected in their success in World Cups. It might not be in their blood, but the speed and prowess of their fast bowlers certainly play a significant role.

Australia perhaps is capable of keeping it simple when it comes to winning it in the finals. They like Arjun much more focus on the fish’s eye rather than the entire fish. It hardly matters how they flared in the whole tournament for “All is well if the end is well” and they currently are the team who do not focus much on a good intro. All they care about is the memorable ending!

Avipsha Lala
Author: Avipsha Lala

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