Australians simply unstoppable

Written by: Allan Border
Published: Saturday, February 5, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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The international summer came to a close with Australia once again blitzing the Pakistanis in an awesome display of power and aggression. The Australian team set new standards in this game. They were simply unstoppable. In perfect conditions, Steve Waugh won an important toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat first.

This was the start of the onslaught. The Aussies went for the jugular, right from the word go, snuffing out any aggression that the Pakistanis might have displayed. Within just a couple of overs Wasim was scratching his head wondering how he was going to stop the flow of runs. Mind you, the tone was set early when Youhana dropped a relatively easy chance off Gilchrist, and it was from this point the Pakistani resistance fell away badly. The Australian batsmen smashed the ball to all parts and ran the Pakistani fielders ragged. The final score of 7-337 is the highest score by an Australian side anywhere and emphasises the complete domination by their batsmen.

There is continuing speculation in Australia that this current side under Steve Waugh's captaincy is the best one ever. These statements always cause a lot of comment. It is difficult to compare eras, but you would have to agree, that this group of players is doing everything right and it is very hard to pick a weakness. The side has everything. Two great strike bowlers to open the attack in McGrath and Brett Lee (and Steve Waugh has Damien Fleming up his sleeve depending on the pitches they play). The quicks are followed up by the all-rounders - Symonds, Shane Lee, Martyn and Ian Harvey. Then you are confronted with one of the greatest bowlers ever, Shane Warne.

The batting is just as impressive. At the top, is there a better pair around than Gilchrist and Mark Waugh!? Ponting, Bevan and Stephen Waugh form an incredibly consistent and potent middle order. The Australians then back these two disciplines with a fielding team that is just awesome. They exude a confidence and commitment that must be very daunting for opposition teams. Stephen Waugh is reluctant to be drawn into the argument as to who is the best team. He quite rightly points out that his side that had to win seven games on the trot to win the recent World Cup, had proven its worth under the most extreme pressure and public scrutiny and had come up trumps to win that trophy. This current side had subtle changes but still retains the nucleus of that tremendous team. Do we need to look back to sides that contained Lillee, Marsh and the Chappells, or the side that won the World Cup in 1987? That team was an emerging group that contained young players such as Boon, Marsh, Jones, S. Waugh, McDermott and Reid who all went on to

Bigger and better things. So the arguments rage as to who is the best. I'll leave that question unanswered and listen to some more of the discussions before I am prepared to stick my neck out.

The final washup was reasonably predictable. The Pakistanis came out throwing the bat at everything but, in the pursuit of quick runs, were losing wickets at a rapid rate and the challenge petered out, Pakistan making 185. The Australians, therefore, win the series 2-0 and confirm their place as the number one side in the world. Overall, I would have to say it was a very disappointing triangular series. The Australians were simply too good in their own conditions. There will have to be a marked improvement in tactics and commitment from a lot of teams around the world to push this Australian side off the top of the tree.

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