Australia: The invincible clan
From 1973 to 2022, the sport has seen 12 50-over World Cups and Australia have won seven of them. The latest being the 2022 edition, in which they defeated England in the final at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch to lift the title for a record seventh time. The team that is second on the list is England with four.
So what does that tell you about Australia?
Once in a while, there comes a pool of players that dominates the world. But with Australia, that’s not the case. They have been consistently producing world champions and their overall record is a testimony to the same. From Margaret Jennings’ 1978 World Cup-winning side to Meg Lanning’s 2022 outfit, there has been a commonality among all the Australian sides – they all have been domineering.
When Lanning’s side had lost the second semi-final against India in 2017, there was a sense of disbelief among the Aussie supporters. They were confounded and weren’t able to process what had occurred. And same was the case with the whole Aussie unit.
With other teams, it’s always about the 15 players and the coaches who form the nucleus of the side. But with Australia it’s different. Not only the players, but everyone in the team management, from the video analyst to the media manager to the masseur, are all an integral part of the core.
From the excruciating loss in the 2017 semi-finals to India, to winning two ICC World T20 titles and creating a 26-match winning streak in ODIs, the seven-time champions left no stone unturned in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup.
They didn’t concede a single game in the 2022 World Cup. The Aussies were stretched only once, and that too in the opening game, when Natalie Sciver scored a brilliant century while chasing. They annihilated every unit that ran into them and had players for all the conditions. If a side can afford to drop the top ranked ODI bowler in the world then that speaks volumes about their versatility and depth. But how has Australia managed to get to this level?
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Had it been any other team than Australia, then they would have been proud of their 2017 World Cup campaign, but that’s not how the Aussies function. They were hurting. For them, it was a pretty unceremonious exit, and they wanted to ascend the top of the ladder again. Although the hurt itself was enough to fuel their appetite, they needed much more than that to keep that fire burning. And surprisingly enough they didn’t need to look beyond their inner sanctum for the same.
The culture that they have built over the years is so puissant that it helps them surmount every challenge. There exists a core group of players within the dressing room who ensure that it thrives. So what does that culture do? It reminds them of their cricketing richness and what does it mean to be a part of the dressing room. It helps the youngsters to evolve from rookies into seasoned performers in the blink of an eye. It’s their culture that keeps them going despite all odds and enables them to look adversity in the eye. And is there an end to it? Not really. It is a fabric that has withstood the test of time and is not eroding any time soon.
Have you ever wondered how Australia keeps unearthing prodigious talent constantly? If you haven’t found the answer yet, then you aren’t alone. Every team goes through a period of transition. And within the transition phase, the performance graph generally goes downhill. But when a team has won seven out of 12 50-over world titles it tells you that their transition has hardly affected their performances. But how? The answer lies in their domestic structure.
Australia have two premier domestic tournaments – the Women’s Big Bash League for the T20 format and the Women’s National Cricket League for 50-overs. And the level of competition that is there in both tournaments is almost as good as the international level.
Firstly, you have to be extremely good to make it to the regional squads for tournaments. And secondly, you need to be highly consistent to thrive, or else you’ll be taken out. When you have such a high-class domestic structure, it is bound to produce the kind of results that Australia has been consistently producing over the years. And looking back at their performances in the recent few years, it would be fair to say that the 2017 semi-final loss was an anomaly, which only served the purpose of making them even more ruthless and invincible than ever before.