Australia's World Cup-winning squad celebrate the crowning moment in a great year of cricket. Image by AP PHOTO
  • cricket

World Cup puts Cummins’ team among Australia’s greatest

Scott Bailey November 20, 2023

Pat Cummins’ team have put themselves in the pantheon of great Australian cricket sides after a legacy-defining year yielded a second world title.

The ODI World Cup final win over India on Monday (AEDT) was Australia’s biggest 2023 triumph, five months after their Test Championship success against the same side. 

 Australia were jubilant after their World Test Championship final win over India in June. Image by AP PHOTO 

Comparisons have long been made between the current Australian team and the golden era of the early 2000s, who dominated the sport for a decade.

But Cummins’ side have proven they belong in the conversation with the best men’s teams, including Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s sides, the Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh era and Don Bradman’s Invincibles.

The core group have now won two ODI World Cups, with Sunday’s victory featuring seven players from the 2015 success at home.

They also won the 2021 Twenty20 World Cup, defying the odds to take Australia’s first trophy in the format.

In Test cricket the same group have retained the Ashes twice in England, marginally missing out on series wins in that country but having still held the urn for six years.

A Test series victory in India remains the one blemish on their record, after a few hours of madness in Delhi cost them earlier this year.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team for the last few years,” Cummins said. 

“We’ve had some tough series but we’ve won some amazing series as well. 

“Everyone stood up, we feel like we’ve got a great red-ball team and the white-ball team has won two trophies in the last few years. 

“Things are looking pretty rosy.”

Cummins considers this World Cup win to be the team’s finest achievement of a hectic 2023.

Australia’s maiden World Cup triumph in India in 1987 remains the most against-the-odds, while the backs-to-the-wall effort in 1999 defined the golden generation before two more all-conquering campaigns.

But Australia did not have it easy this year either.

After a 0-2 start and with Sri Lanka 0-121 in the third match, Australia looked at serious risk of failing to make the World Cup semi-finals.

But from the moment David Warner took a brilliant running catch on the boundary to remove Pathum Nissanka, Australia rebounded.

Their fielding went from sloppy early in the tournament to world’s best at the end, while Cummins delivered spell after spell of tight and nagging ODI bowling.

It was he who got the key wicket of Virat Kohli in the final, while Mitchell Starc rebounded to life with 3-55 to have India all out for 240.

Left without a fully-fit first-choice XI until the semi-finals, Travis Head repaid the selectors’ faith for keeping him in the squad with a fractured hand by producing a fine 137 in the chase.

That came in the most difficult conditions for Australia on a slow Ahmedabad wicket, in front of a vast and partisan crowd of Indian fans, against the unbeaten and world No.1 ranked hosts.

Travis Head
 Travis Head silenced a huge and partisan crowd in Ahmedabad with his match-winning knock. Image by AP PHOTO 

The majority of Australia’s white-ball team will likely play next June’s T20 World Cup before bowing out in the ensuing years, but it’s hard to imagine them topping this feat.

“This is the pinnacle, no doubt,” Cummins said. 

“The World Test Championship was huge after another two-year campaign, but with the ODI World Cup it’s the rich history. 

“To come out of a place like India where you know the conditions are so different to back home. 

“It’s pretty gruelling, 11 games in six weeks. 

“The way the group stuck together and got through it. Holding the medal, that’s the pinnacle.”