You have to admire, albeit grudgingly, the Aussies for the way they have played in the World Cup. Their dominance has been matched by the simplicity and commonsense in the words of Ricky Ponting and his players in the pre- and post-match interviews.
Before the Super Eights match against New Zealand, Ponting said his “team was looking forward to the upcoming matches, the tournament is just starting for us, we are playing well and are looking to play better”.
He then promptly won the toss and in the company of his henchman, Matty Hayden — the “bludgeoner from Queensland” seems to be getting bigger! — he decimated the opposition. Mind you, the Black Caps played with the conviction of a dishcloth. It looked like men against boys.
How does it happen? Why is it happening so regularly? What is their secret?
First, they keep things simple. For a start, they almost always pick their best team against anyone and always at the World Cup. Be it against Ireland, England and especially, mighty Holland. Not for them the mysterious tactic of resting player X or Y. In Australian teams, you are either picked or dropped; if they are winning, they stick with the same team.
Second, they work at “doing the basics well”. When batting, they put their best batsman in first; they look to bowl line and length and field their socks off. This is all honed and perfected on the training field and in the gym.
They train harder than they play. There is no just going through the motions at an Australian training session and if you do that, a quick word from the captain or the coach to the chairman of selectors will put you out of the side, no matter who you might be.
This is all backed up by a professional support staff who are committed, reviewed and face the same standards as the team — perform or you are out. It’s about winning, there is no journey, it’s the game today. It’s not about process, it’s about performance.
They may talk about some of these things when they want to wax lyrical and confuse us. But this team under Ricky Ponting, who seems a rather straightforward bloke, keeps things very simple and lives and breathes to win every match.
But for heaven’s sake, can someone stop them?! Look them in the eye and play them at their own game? Play to win as though your life depended on it?