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February 19, 2010
The only other time Australia went through a home summer unbeaten in Tests and ODIs, Ricky Ponting was 26, Steve Waugh was captain, the team was full of stars and they beat up West Indies and Zimbabwe. To achieve the same undefeated run with a young, developing squad this season has meant a lot to Ponting, who is now 35 and moulding a group he hopes can take back the Ashes and defend the World Cup within the next year.
Two Twenty20s still remain but in the two longer formats, his men have been unstoppable. There was a drawn Test in Adelaide and an ODI washout in Sydney, but no games were lost. After the 125-run victory over West Indies at the MCG, Ponting said he was thrilled with the size of Australia's wins, which included four ODI wins with victory margins of over 100 runs against West Indies and Pakistan.
"I'm really proud of what we've done this summer," Ponting said. "There can be a lot said about the opposition but one-day cricket tends to bring a lot of teams closer together and we haven't allowed that to happen this summer in the nine completed games that we've played, so I'm proud of the boys for that.
"I thought this was a bit of a dangerous game for us, the West Indies almost having a nothing-to-lose sort of attitude and probably a little bit of extra pressure on us to get out there and finish the summer on a good note. To the guys' credit, once again we found something a little bit even better than we've shown right through the summer."
One of the most pleasing aspects of the one-day portion has been the way the rank-and-file members of the side have stood up. This time it was James Hopes, who began the summer as a fringe ODI player and was named Man of the Match for his brutal half-century, while Adam Voges, who has been an even more peripheral player, helped him with an unbeaten 45.
Doug Bollinger continued his stranglehold over Chris Gayle, Ryan Harris took his wicket tally to 21 in eight ODIs, and Clint McKay pushed his case to remain a first-choice fast man. The win took Australia's tally to 24 successes from 27 completed ODIs since the end of the Ashes and it has put them in a strong position a year away from the World Cup, where they will defend their title with a new-look squad.
"I thought [Hopes] was terrific in Brisbane and showed some really good signs over there," Ponting said. "He was terrific tonight. That sort of hitting at the end of the innings is what you're always looking for. It hasn't just been him. I was really happy for Vogesy tonight, to get that opportunity and capitalise the way he did was great.
"You look at Harris and Bollinger and McKay and those guys ... they've not let any one game get away from them and that's a terrific attitude to have around our group. There's a little bit of competition for spots and guys are working exceptionally hard. We've unearthed some players this summer and that's going to be good in 12 months time with a World Cup."
There have been few positives for West Indies during the limited-overs games. Their disappointing trip culminated in their worst all-round effort in the final game as they dropped five catches, allowed Australia to post the third-highest ODI total ever scored at the MCG, and then lost three wickets in the first four overs.
"We played terrible in all three departments," the coach David Williams said. "I think we fielded decent up until this game but to drop five catches in 50 overs, that tells a lot. It was really disappointing.
"We didn't get good starts and that's important in one-day cricket. All four games we struggled at the top of the order. We exposed the middle order a little bit too early. It was always difficult coming from behind playing against a top-class side."
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