June 14, 2001

Australia too hot to handle

Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
After tonight, any remaining doubts about Australian supremacy in world cricket must've been set right after what happened at Old Trafford. The world champions simply rose to a class of their own against England.

Jason Gillespie
Jason Gillespie delivers a thunderbolt as he destroys the England top order
Photo © AFP
For me, the most exciting sight in cricket is two great fast bowlers running in with a new ball and four or five slip fielders waiting to swallow it up. It really must have shattered England openers' confidence, already shaken by the Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target, when McGrath and Gillespie started roaring in with that field setting.

Steve Waugh is surely a worthy leader of worthy men. He didn't cringe from using up his pace duo to break England's back having them bowl flat out for the first 17 overs.

His decision, earlier in the day, to bat first under overcast conditions had me scratching my head, wondering what's he up to? Then losing 3 wickets for just 27 runs seemed to further ridicule his decision. However, in the end all my apprehensions were laid to rest after this amazing and thoroughly professional display by his team.

Now back to McGrath and Gillespie, I'd say they are now the best new-ball attack in the world. I say this not because the wet and windy conditions at Old Trafford came as icing on the cake. The way they ripped through the English top-order was a sight for sore eyes.

Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh with a glance shot behind him in his innings of 64
Photo © CricInfo
After England's performance in the NatWest Series, I think it's high time the ECB arranges for the maximum possible limited over games, if they are in earnest to put up a good show in the next world cup. This is the only way their young players can accustom themselves to the rigours of one-day cricket.

After the burst by the pacers, Warne and Symonds had absolutely no problem in brushing off any remaining resistance and making England slide to their lowest total in ODIs.

I used to think that age plays a major part in enervating a player's physical and mental ability. But Steve Waugh has proved me totally wrong. At 36, he is as strong, both physically and mentally as one can be.

Michael Bevan
Michael Bevan with a classic straight drive
Photo © CricInfo
When Australia was 27 for 3, any player could have panicked, especially when Caddick and Gough were bowling magnificently. But perhaps the word 'panic' is not there in Steve's dictionary. He played calmly; building useful partnerships with Bevan and Martyn, to once more lead his side out of trouble. I can't even remember how many times he has led from the front.

I think Bevan should've stayed a bit longer, having got on the right platform to build up his innings. But then England, especially Mullally, did bowl well against him, not allowing him the width he so cherishes and frustrated him enough to give his wicket away.

Anyhow, today's match will be long remembered for the Aussies sheer professionalism. They worked hard in batting, bowling and fielding to completely destroy a poor English outfit.

Caddick and Ponting
Andrew Caddick celebrates capturing the wicket of Ponting
Photo © AFP
With England out of the reckoning, Pakistan has a place in the final to meet these awesome Australians. It won't be easy for Pakistan to beat the world champions but under the newfound confidence and led by Waqar, they are certainly capable of giving them a run for their money. I do remember WC99 debacle, but this time it won't be a one sided final.

But we still have two matches against Australia left before the final and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting these. A good showing would a great morale booster for the Pakistan side.

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.