Partying Australians return with the World Cup
The World Cup has returned to Australia, landing in Sydney on Thursday morning with most of the side that won the trophy in Barbados on Saturday. Ricky Ponting said the squad had enjoyed its party after sealing the third success in a row.
"[I am feeling] more refreshed than I was two days ago, that is for sure," Ponting told AAP. "The celebrations were long and hard, which is what they should be after you win a World Cup. There were some pretty amazing scenes coming back to Australia from guys with not a lot of clothing on at different hours of the morning, but we celebrated as we should."
After breakfast with the prime minister John Howard at the SCG, Ponting lifted the trophy in front of a large crowd at a public reception for the team in Sydney's Martin Place. Each member of the squad was given a gold ring to mark the winning achievement. The supporters who turned up also celebrated the work of the retiring Glenn McGrath and the outgoing coach John Buchanan.
"I've been very lucky to have been involved in an era of cricket when Australia has been so strong," McGrath said. "Since making the decision I haven't even had a second thought. I've enjoyed every minute of it, but it's now time for me to move on and let the young guys come through."
Australia did not lose a game for the second World Cup in a row, sealing the tournament with a 53-run victory over Sri Lanka which was set up by Adam Gilchrist's 149. "For us to again go through undefeated and once again have a lot of our players peaking at the right time in the World Cup is an amazing achievement by everybody," Ponting said.
"Gilly's innings in the final, as I have been flat out telling him, it was unbelievable, that was the one difference between the two teams in the final. It has been an amazing couple of months of our lives and even more amazing last few days."
Ponting said ending the final in the dark was a much better option than returning the next day. "I'd have been struggling to find someone to bowl the three overs," he said. He said the officials, who mistakenly pushed for the extra overs, had learned their lesson.
"I'm sure next time they officiate in big games like that they'll know the rules inside out," he said. The squad was missing Stuart Clark and Brad Hodge, who were in England for county stints, while Matthew Hayden arrived home on Tuesday to prepare for the birth of his third child in Brisbane.