I need this bunch for at least a year: Ponting

Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2003, 19:33 [IST]
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Aussies after having won WC 2003 Perth: Australia's cricketers are focused on winning the World Cup for a record- breaking third time in a row, captain Ricky Ponting said on Tuesday as his triumphant team returned home. "There is no reason why we cannot win again in four years," Ponting said at Perth airport after the team arrived from South Africa where it crushed India by 125 runs in Sunday's One-sided final in Johannesburg. This triumph followed an overwhelming victory over Pakistan in the final in England four years earlier. "I would like to have this group of guys around for the next one, if that was possible," said Ponting, who hit a memorable 140 not out against India in the showdown. "What we have seen in this tournament is that we have really had our depth tested. All-rounder Shane Watson went out with injury just before the tournament, fast bowler Jason Gillespie was injured during the tournament and then we lost Shane Warne." Warne, the world's greatest leg spin bowler, flew back to Australia after testing positive to drugs and was later disqualified from playing for a year. "The guys who have stepped in have really played some great cricket, so there is no reason why we cannot keep producing these players and having them step in and play great cricket when it is required of them," Ponting said. He said it had not been hard to captain a side as good as the Australian squad. "I said that from the word go when I took over (from Test captain Steve Waugh a year earlier). With the talent we have in this side, that certainly makes my job a fair bit easier." "We have played some great cricket during this campaign, in which we were undefeated. We were tested at certain times, but when we got into trouble one of the bunch put a hand up and made sure we got over the line. It wasn't smooth sailing all the time, but the final was a very good ending for us." Ponting said when the competition started he believed the side were good enough to survive the tournament undefeated. Australian coach John Buchanan said that, while he had no doubt Australia's side was the greatest at the moment, it was too difficult to answer whether it was the best of all time. Buchanan offered no comfort to countries hoping they may be able to topple Australia in the next World Cup in the West Indies in four years time. "I think we can still improve in every area," he said. "There is time for us to do that now. Now we start on the next four years. Really, we can look across every aspect of our game. Every aspect can improve. If we couldn't improve, we would just stagnate." Australian players a few several days at home with their families before leaving for the West Indies to compete in a four-Test series. Copyright AFP 2001

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