Many are aghast at the recent defeats the mighty Aussies have suffered, and are wondering whether Ricky Ponting and his men have the ability to hunt as a pack again at the World Cup.
I have seen them from close quarters and can tell you that they would rise again to the lofty standards they have always set for themselves. They will definitely put an end to their five-match losing streak when the World Cup starts.
Defeats prompt people to take a pessimistic view. If you remember, the Indian cricket team endured a poor tour of New Zealand prior to the previous World Cup. And many wondered at that time if we would even survive the first round.
Similarly, I am sure, Ponting and his men will emerge stronger from their recent spate of losses and will be re-energised for the Caribbean extravaganza.
No one is saying that Australia does everything right in cricket all the time. They have lost five straight games, but during this stretch they have also had five or six players out of the side.
Andrew Symonds tore a muscle in his bicep, Ponting’s back got swollen, Clarke had a sore hip, Gilchrist suffered from match fatigue and needed a break, Lee’s ankle gave away and Hayden had problems with his toe.
Australia won the World Cup in 1999 and 2003 on the strength of their all-round skills. The victories were a reflection of their clear dominance in Test and ODI cricket. Glenn McGrath and Ricky Ponting played in both tournaments. No team came even close to breaking their stranglehold on world cricket.
Their current team too has the ability to lift the Cup for a record third time. My friends showed me a report in a Sydney daily. It read: "If Australian cricket had a problem, it was that its team was too good for its own good." That’s the reality. Like us, Ponting and co are gearing up for the final assault. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Virender Sehwag is the brand ambassador for MAX, the official broadcaster of the ICC Cricket World Cup ’07. This is the second in a series of six columns that the dashing batsman would be writing exclusively for the Hindustan Times.