Last Sunday Australia won its fifth Cricket World Cup final, having won the tournament previously in 1987, 1999, 2003, and 2007. This Australian team was clearly very good – losing only one match out of nine, and by a close margin. But is it the best of Australia’s cup winners? Let’s consider each winning eleven in turn.
wins, 1 loss.
Boon, Geoff Marsh, Dean Jones, Allan Border, Mike Veletta, Steve Waugh, Simon
O’Donnell, Greg Dyer, Craig McDermott, Tim May, Bruce Reid.
triumph in the 1987 World Cup was a bit unexpected, and so I was surprised to
discover that their record for the tournament was seven wins and only one loss.
However, several of those wins were very close
the final against England. Also, while several of these players were very good
I would say better versions of them came along later – Boon and Marsh were eclipsed
by Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, Border was eclipsed by Ricky Ponting,
O’Donnell by Andrew Symonds, and McDermott by Glenn McGrath. In the end then,
while this side took an important step for Australia on their way to becoming
the world’s best one-day cricket side, I would rate it at the lower end of
Australia’s World Cup champions.
wins, 2 losses, 1 tie.
Team: Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting,
Darren Lehmann, Steve Waugh, Michael Bevan, Tom Moody, Shane Warne, Paul
Reiffel, Damien Fleming, Glenn McGrath.
looks pretty strong, and is the only World Cup winning team to feature both
Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Ultimately though, their record in the
tournament, while still very good, is a step below other Australian squads.
They lost a
couple of early group matches, which resulted in them having to win – or not
lose – seven matches in a row to lift the trophy (they won six, and their
famous tie in the semi-final was enough to get them through). Also they could
easily have lost either one of their two dramatic matches against South Africa
and not reached the final at all. This squad is great on paper, but the hiccups
along the way mean I cannot put them at the top.
wins, 0 losses.
Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann,
Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg, Andy Bichel, Brett Lee, Glenn
team has a strong case to be considered the best. It won all eleven of its
matches in the tournament, and barely looked in danger of losing. If you were
to pick a best ever Australian one-day cricket side seven members of this team
would be strong contenders for selection: Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting, Bevan,
Symonds, Lee, and McGrath. If Shane Warne had not famously had to withdraw
after testing positive to a banned substance I think this team would be clearly
the best (though Brad Hogg was a capable replacement). Any side that can make
over 350 and dismiss Sachin Tendulkar for single figures in a World Cup final has to be
wins, 0 losses.
Team: Adam Gilchrist,
Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey,
Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Shaun Tait, Glenn McGrath.
There is not
much difference between this and the 2003 side. Like the 2003 team it went
through the tournament undefeated, and had some mammoth wins, including
smashing the number one ranked team South Africa in the semi-final. The imposing
top order was the same as the 2003 team, and the middle order had a comparable
level of talent. McGrath, though at the end of his career, bagged a record 26
wickets for the tournament. But if I had to split hairs I would say the opening
bowling partnership of McGrath and Lee in the 2003 team would be a more
frightening prospect than the 2007 team’s combination of Bracken and Tait. (Did you remember they opened the bowling for Australia in this tournament? I didn't; I assumed it was McGrath and Lee.) It’s
a close one though.
wins, 1 loss, 1 no result.
Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, James
Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
personnel in the 2015 team may be considerably different from the 2003 and 2007
teams, but the level of talent is pretty close. Starc bowled as well as McGrath
ever did in a World Cup. Maxwell and Faulkner were not the stayers that Bevan
or Lehmann were, but they made up for it in explosiveness. I think where it falls just short of the 2003 and 2007 squads is that the opening partnership of Warner and Finch are just a level
below Gilchrist and Hayden, and the changes to the middle order during the
tournament made it a bit less imposing than those other teams. Let’s put
them in the middle then.
2003, 2007, 2015, 1999, 1987.