<
>

Life as a World Cup Invincible

Shaun Tait with Glenn McGrath, who signed off from international cricket after the final Getty Images

The Australian fast bowler looks back at the 2007 World Cup, his first

The 2007 World Cup was the pinnacle of my career. I only played a handful of Tests, 30-odd one-dayers, went on a few good tours, and that was about it. So the World Cup was a high point: winning it and going undefeated. But it was also about sharing a dressing room with legends of the game. I was part of Glenn McGrath's last day of international cricket. Things like that are what you remember when it's all finished.

Brett Lee was injured in the lead-up to the World Cup, so I kind of took on the mantle of the tearaway quick. Who knows how much I would have played if Lee had been there. It was a great opportunity for me, and good timing because I was bowling well. Ricky Ponting was brilliant with me. He used me in the ideal way - short spells at the right times when a team was vulnerable. Perhaps after they'd just lost a wicket, I would come on, bowl as fast as I could and try to grab another. It worked, and as the tournament went on I started to bowl more consistently. It was a great learning curve.

We had a sense of invincibility, the way the group carried itself. An air of arrogance, I suppose, without actually being arrogant. There was certainly complete confidence in what we could do. Through the tournament, after the first couple of games, I just didn't think we were going to get beaten, and that was the attitude of the whole squad. It was probably the last time I'd played in a team that had quite that level of confidence.

I didn't bat once in the tournament. I think I only put the pads on once - I got above McGrath in the batting order, thank goodness! - so that shows how consistent we were. Everyone expected us to win. Anything else was unacceptable. We fed off that, led by legends in whom you had complete faith. It was a feeling you'd want to bottle.

On the day of the final, I remember it was raining, so it was a bit stop-start, which was annoying because all we wanted to do was get out there and play. Gilly, from memory, didn't have his best tournament but after that innings, everyone forgot about it. He just smashed it everywhere. That innings alone won us the World Cup. You could see it in the Sri Lankan bowlers' eyes. They didn't know where to look. It was the most destructive innings I have seen.

Personally, I didn't go so well in the final - Sanath Jayasuriya got hold of me. Sri Lanka knew they pretty much had to smash it from the start, but when Gilly was nearing his hundred there was a feeling that he had already won us the World Cup. I had no idea about the squash ball in his glove. I think a lot of us were wondering what the hell he was doing when he was signalling up to us. But it certainly worked.

Then, of course, there was all sorts of chaos towards the end. It got dark. We started celebrating. No one knew the rules. Then we went back out and then celebrated again. Everyone said it put a bit of a dampener on it, but the good thing is, we got to celebrate twice!

Tait spoke to Andrew McGlashan. This article was first published in 2014