The Australians were again brilliant. They have been so consistent, especially when bowling with the new ball. Glenn McGrath was at his hostile best and his combination with young Brett Lee is quite awesome. This gruesome twosome completely destroyed the Pakistan top order. Once they had finished their opening onslaught, the game was basically as good as over.
At one stage, Pakistan was reeling at 4-17 and later 5-28, with almost no chance of getting themselves back into the game. As is regulation in these situations, the irrepressible Moin Khan dragged his team to some semblance of respectability with a particularly belligerent 47 that allowed the score to reach 154.
At the start of the Australian innings, Shoaib Akhtar was charging in and his pace was quite blistering. While he was bowling in tandem with his captain, Akram, the Pakistanis had an outside chance. A couple of early wickets (Gilchrist and M Waugh) had the Pakistan supporters making plenty of noise. The resistance was broken once Ponting combined with the ever-reliable Michael Bevan who was dismissed just before the end for 54.
I must admit to being a little reluctant to see Bevan elevated to the number four position - not because of any reason other than that he has been outstanding in his role at number six. Michael has performed some minor miracles in this position and I was surprised Stephen Waugh decided to make the move.
I should have known better than to doubt the current Australian captain. Everything he touches at the moment turns to gold, so I'm not really surprised the Bevan experiment has worked so well.
The Australian players would have entered this contest feeling on top of the world after a magnificent gala evening feted them and their brilliant performances over the last twelve months. The three main awards were: The One Day Cricketer of the Year which went to Shane Warne just pipping Mark Waugh; the Test Match Player of the Year went to Glenn McGrath and the big award, the Player of the Year, now known as the Allan Border Medal, (I must admit to a great deal of personal pride), was also awarded to Glenn McGrath who polled ten more votes than Stephen Waugh.
It was a great night of nostalgia with over 1,000 people in attendance and just further emphasises the great cricket family we have here in Australia.
The current players are very aware of their heritage in this great game and have initiated a lot of events where they invite past players to join them at team meetings and dinners. This has been a great idea and shows the tremendous respect the current bunch have for the Australian cricketers who have played before them.
I really believe that these efforts at recognising the significance of being part of a great cricketing history is really giving Stephen Waugh's Australians a huge psychological edge going into all their recent matches.
So it is off to Sydney for the second final. Hopefully, the Pakistanis can regroup and take the series to a third game. My gut feeling is that Aussies will win in two.
Professional Management Group