2007 World Cup: A Dominant, A Champion Like No Other > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - World Cup 2007: A dominant champion like no other
In the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, Cricbuzz is publishing an eleven-part series to reminisce every bygone edition. In this ninth instalment, middle-order mainstay Michael Hussey, a victorious member of the 2007 World Cup, talks about his side's ruthless campaign, celebrating the win in the final twice, Adam Gilchrist's heroic innings and more.
Four years after mauling India in the 2003 World Cup final, Australia returned older, wiser and stronger to take their domination to another level, winning all 11 games to clinch the trophy for a record third time. All of which belied some concerns going into the tournament, which arose when they were whitewashed 3-0 in New Zealand just one month before the World Cup started...
Michael Hussey: It was pretty much a second string team (in New Zealand). Yes, we were disappointed to lose but still played pretty decent cricket over there. We knew we were going to get some big name players back into the team. Once we arrived in the West Indies for the World Cup, we were a little bit on the edge. So we made sure we went in as hard as we could in the practice games.
I remember one against England in particular we played really well. Everyone was playing as close to their best as they possibly could. We really hit the ground running in the tournament. Obviously the games against Scotland and the Netherlands we were expected to win but we still had to go out and do the job. But our confidence had already been sort of built up by the lead-up games.
After beating both Scotland and the Netherlands by more than 200 runs, Australia came up against South Africa in their final group game. This was their first meeting after the famous 438-run chase the year before, and for a brief period it looked like history might repeat itself with South Africa cruising towards a target of 378.
Hussey: We had a great rivalry against them. We obviously had good wins against lower teams but this was our chance against a proper top flight team just to see where we were at. It was a fantastic game of cricket. It could have gone either way in the end but a couple of little things went our way and we were happy to get over the line. I think the one that turned it our way was the run out of AB de Villiers. It might have been Shane Watson right on the boundary, dived, saved one, picked the ball up and threw it back in and ran out de Villiers (with a direct hit). Once we got him, I thought we got a little bit comfortable.
Australia went on to win the game by 84 runs, taking them into the Super Eights in confident mood. But the tournament was marred by the shocking demise of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer shortly after the Asian side's exit. Quite dramatically, India had also made an early departure.
Hussey: I didn't know Bob Woolmer personally but we were just absolutely shocked and I guess..... I'm not sure anger is the right word but we couldn't believe what we were seeing. How could this be happening at a Cricket World Cup? It was just disbelief really. Probably a lot of emotions: shock, disbelief, anger and then hurt really for the team and plus his family as well.
We expected India to go pretty deep in the tournament. With the calibre of players they had it was unbelievable to see them go out earlier. Obviously, we just felt there must be something going on behind closed doors. But again, a crazy thing to be thinking that India didn't go through.
Australia continued raking up big wins one after the other in the Super Eights. The games were so one-sided that Hussey hardly had any opportunities to come in at number 6 and make an impact.
Hussey: I think it was a good thing because the guys above me were batting so well. I was just making sure I trained really well, prepared myself so whatever my team required in any situation that I would be ready to try and play that. Sometimes it meant just throwing my wicket away at the end of the innings going for the big shots. It didn't really pan out to be a great World Cup for me personally but it didn't bother me at all because the team had the ultimate success and that's what it was all about.
Towards the end of the Super Eights stage, which saw Australia win all six of their games to top the table, Shaun Tait came to the fore. The speedster blew teams away and finished with a tournament tally of 23. He wasn't even supposed to be in the playing XI as per the original script.
Hussey: He was one of the big reasons why we were able to go all the way. We lost Brett Lee on that tour of New Zealand just before the World Cup started. He was obviously one of the great one-day bowlers in the game that time. I guess we were lucky to have someone like Tait who could bowl the same sort of pace as Brett but we weren't sure if he would have the same control and the wicket-taking ability. He stepped up to the plate magnificently. He was very well supported by the coaching staff and the captain. They gave him a very clear role, they gave him a lot of backing and trust and I think Tait really thrived on that. We certainly saw the best of him in the tournament.
After the Super Eights, South Africa were waiting again. This time, it was not an inconsequential group game. Two of the best teams in the world were competing for a place in the World Cup final. It was South Africa's best chance to erase the painful memory of the 1999 tournament. Instead, they came crashing down on the day, dismissed for 149 to suffer one of the biggest losses in a semifinal.
Hussey: It was a funny sort of a game really. I don't know what went on in their meetings beforehand but they seemed to come out with a different mental attitude. They came out really hard trying to put the pressure back on us and try and take the initiative early in the game by being quite aggressive with their batting. It certainly backfired losing quite a few wickets early and it put them on the back foot. They just came out swinging.
It wasn't something we were expecting. Thankfully for us, it didn't work on that occasion and our guys bowled really well. It was a comfortable win and we were relieved to get to the final because sometimes the semifinals are the more difficult matches. You know the big carrot is just one win away so to get through quite comfortably was a bit of a relief.
On the day of the final, there was a genuine worry that rain might play spoilsport. When it finally relented, Adam Gilchrist came up with a blazing century to blow Sri Lanka away after battling poor form earlier in the tournament. His use of a squash ball in his one glove became a huge talking point after the final.
Hussey: It was hard not to get excited because we were in the World Cup final, but once the game came around it was a bit strange because there was a lot of rain in the morning and we were sitting there waiting, not sure if we were going to get a game. That didn't help calm our nerves, we just wanted to get out there. Once it did finally stop, the umpires made the decision quickly that we were going to get out and start the game and we couldn't find Gilly anywhere.
We were running around everywhere looking for him, no one could find him. Eventually, ten minutes to go before the start of play, someone found him asleep in a little gym at the Kensington Oval at the back of the dressing room. So, we had to wake him up and he quickly put the pads on, went out there and played one of the all time great innings. It was quite comical afterwards but yeah he was sound asleep probably 15 minutes before the final started.
I didn't know he was going to use the squash ball. I didn't even know until after he finished the innings because when he made his century he started pointing to his gloves and all the guys in the viewing area were like, 'What's he doing, what's he pointing towards?' We didn't have a clue. It wasn't until afterwards we found out that he had a squash ball in his bottom hand. It was bizarre. I didn't know he practised with the squash ball so he kept it all pretty quiet.
There were farcical scenes right at the end when Australia had one hand on the trophy. With the light fading drastically, the umpires wanted the match to enter the reserve day to complete formalities - despite the fact that enough overs had been bowled for an official match - before sense prevailed.
Hussey: It was a crazy, crazy time. Initially we thought the game was over and we started celebrating. The umpires were saying, 'No, no you've got to come tomorrow and finish the game off'. I think Ricky got a little bit angry and sort of started arguing with the umpires. A lot of credit actually has to go the Sri Lankan team. They sort of said, 'There is only three overs to go, if you can just bowl the spinners, we will just play it out and we will finish the game tonight'. We had to go out there again, it was a bit surreal - we celebrated winning the World Cup twice.
It was truly the end of an era. Some of the Australian players who were on the wrong side of their 30s played their final World Cup. Glenn McGrath won the Man of the Tournament award at the age of 37 to bow out of the game with his third world title. As far as Hussey was concerned, more important things were in store after landing in Australia.
Hussey: I mentioned Shaun Tait and there were other unsung heroes like (Nathan) Bracken and Brad Hogg as well, but McGrath was the legend of the attack. He just continuously performed. Having that experience is really handy as well for the other bowlers around. It was just the fitting end for him because he has been such a great of the game and more importantly, he is such a great person as well. That's why I was really chuffed for him to finish one-day cricket on such a high.
To be honest, to this day, I have not seen a team execute their plans as well as that team did during the 2007 World Cup. The celebrations were fantastic in the dressing room afterwards and well into the night. And then we had a long long flight back to Australia where there was a really nice event in the centre of Sydney where thousands of people came to celebrate our win, which was awesome to see. I thought I was going to celebrate the win by going on a family holiday but my wife had some complications with her birth so we spent the next three months in the hospital with a premature baby.
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