Aussies are on song

Written by: Allan Border
Published: Monday, January 17, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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The Aussie juggernaut is starting to roll into top gear. They have put together three good wins on the trot and are definitely the side to beat for the title. The second meeting of the World Cup finalists proved to be a walk in the park for world champions Australia. The win again emphasises the overall strength of the Australian outfit.

As usual, Glenn McGrath was menacing early, but it is the form of all- rounders Shane Lee and Andrew Symonds that has been the most pleasing aspect for the Aussies in the tournament to date. It is always debatable whether to play specialist bowlers and batsmen or go for the all-rounder type cricketer. I sense that one-day cricket, going into the next World Cup, will throw up the need for quality all-rounders. They have always been a much-sought-after commodity, but their value in the shortened game is becoming more and more essential.

The South Africans, who were my favourites going into the last World Cup, have three of the best in Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Jacques Kallis. They will form an important nucleus for South Africa in the years to come.

Australia are following suit in that we are trying to unearth good all-rounders to slot into our one-day team. These players give the captain so many different options going into any given game in any conditions. Throw in quality big match cricketers like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mark Waugh and captain courageous, Steve Waugh, and it gives Australia a huge psychological edge in all games.

Talking of Steve Waugh, what an exceptional player he is. Australia was again teetering on the edge of disaster, particularly after a brilliant burst of bowling from Shoaib Akhtar, and, once again it is Steve Waugh to the rescue. He has this incredible habit of saving his best performances for the precise moments that his side needs them and he has done this rescue act so many times now it is just downright incredible.

I worry about the time when Stephen calls it quits. Who will be able to fill his shoes?

Hopefully, that day is a long way off yet. The Australians have now moved to six points, heading the table, with Pakistan on four and India yet to win a game. The Indians have a lot of soul-searching to do before their next game. They will be hoping the Aussies can keep winning, thus making the game against Pakistan in Hobart the most vital of the tournament to date. A win for India will bring them to within striking distance in the race for a final's berth.

The last encounter between India and Pakistan saw an absolute ripper of a game with the Pakistanis producing an amazing come-from-behind win. Sachin's boys will need to dig deep if they are going to get back into this tournament.

Somehow, I think it all revolves around the broad shoulders of their champion skipper. Sounds familiar?

Professional Management Group

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