Much will be written about the farcical ending to the 2007 World Cup, and whilst the tournament will undoubtedly be remembered for events off the pitch, I feel it is necessary to take a step back and pay tribute to the deserving champions.
Steve Waugh has described them as the best one-day side ever
, and on current form it is difficult to disagree. They are a side without apparent weakness and the worrying thing for everyone else out there is they donít look like losing their way any time soon.
The bookies have already quoted them as 3/1 to win in 2011.
The Australians were quite simply streets ahead of the competition in the Caribbean. They were rarely tested, and when they were, they passed with flying colours. So strong is their line up that Brad Hodge scored a World Cup century and was promptly dropped. No other side in world cricket could afford such a luxury and it is all too easy to forget that Brett Lee wasnít even taking part, such was the fine job done in his absence by Shaun Tait.
No other side could match their intensity, versatility and outright brilliance on a cricket field for more than a few overs. When Australia beat a team, they donít just beat them, they destroy them, no matter what the rankings may say. You only had to witness their demolition jobs on South Africa and New Zealand, two of the sides that going into the tournament were widely expected to give the champions a run for their money, to see this.
The depth to their resources is what leads me to believe that there is no end in sight to their dominance.
The retirement of McGrath will be offset by the return of Brett Lee. Whether they decide to pair Lee and Tait, or go with someone more in the McGrath mould, like Stuart Clark remains to be seen, but either way, their bowling attack will be looked upon with envy by all other nations.
Factor in the developing young bowlers, who have already been given a taste of international cricket such as Ben Hilfenhaus, Shane Harwood and Dan Cullen and you being to realise just how strong the Australians are.
It is much the same with the batting; it is unlikely that the triumvirate of Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting will appear together in 2011, but Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey have served their apprenticeships, both as middle-order batsmen and leaders of the side and with Hodge and Haddin waiting in the wings, a smooth transition is in order.
Adam Voges and Mark Cosgrove are amongst the younger players who again, have been blooded to ensure that when the big names do stand down, they will have the necessary experience to take over. And I havenít even mentioned Phil Jaques, Simon Katich or Cameron White. Such is the plethora of talent available, an Australian A side would hold its own in the international arena.
And donít expect the Australian selectors to miss a trick either; they will be planning their preparation for 2011 with customary thoroughness, so by 2009, they will already have a good idea of the players which will do the job for them and will focus their energies to moulding them into a unit ready for the challenge of retaining their title for a third time in the sub-continent.
That 3/1 is looking like good value already.
© Cricket World 2007