If you are an ardent cricket fan, then you must be aware of the dominance that the Australia Cricket Team has shown over a time period of close to 14 years. In the beginning of 1999-2000, when Steve Waugh was given the control of the team, they never looked back and ruled the cricketing world till 2011-12. It was after the retirement of great Ricky Ponting that this team showed signs of curtailment.
It was that period when every single player of the team was a match winner. With the likes of opening batsmen such as Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer, there was utmost surety of a blasting start to the innings. While the middle order showed aggression and stability with guys like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke; lower order batting was given in hands of the talent house of Michael Bevan, Mike Hussey and Andrew Symonds. If the opposition somehow manage to survive such a bombastic batting order, there was a detrimental bowling attack who awaits them for the second part of the game. Lead of the charge was given to Glenn McGrath, the finest medium paceman of his generation. Sharing the assault with McGrath was great potentials of Damien Fleming, Jason Gillespie, Nathan Bracken and Andy Bichel. Not to forget – Brett Lee, whose lethal pace and swing were disastrous for batsman of any caliber. The onslaught of the Kangaroos does not end here only. During the later course of the match, spinners like Stuart MacGill, Darren Lehmann and Brad Hogg come in action. But the outstanding among all was Shane Warne, who is also known as the Wizard. It was a cluster of highly talented and enthusiastic cricketers who used to play cricket with the sole motive to overshadow the opponent.
There were two captains who led this thriving team to almost all successful campaigns – Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Neither of them needs an introduction. While both of them were tremendously accomplished batsmen; they also made the world acknowledge their excellent leadership skills.
Steve Waugh –
Taking over the ODI captaincy from Mark Taylor in 1996-97, Steve Waugh did not had the most impressive starts. With an eye to built a strong team for 1999 World Cup, the team went a lot of changes and Waugh had to deal with them. As a result, the start of his campaign was not the most ideal one. After settling the opening pair of Mark Waugh with Adam Gilchrist, Steve started to find rhythm in managing the team. It was the start of a remarkable journey for Australian cricket. Being a part of the 1996 World Cup runner-up team and with a winning average of more than 63% matches, Steve Waugh led his team to victory in 1999 World Cup. Waugh has emerged victorious in 67 ODI games – out of a total of 106 – including a world cup triumph, and lost just 35 of those. When it comes to captaining the test side, Steve’s records goes even higher. He has captained his mates in 57 tests, and with a fantastic average of close to 72%, led the team to wins in 41 matches.
Ricky Ponting –
After Steve Waugh stepping down as the captain, the control of the team was handed over to Ricky Ponting, who was in tremendous form during those days. While touring South Africa for a test series, he scored a century in Cape Town and followed it with a whitewash against Pakistan in late 2002. For the ODI team, he was appointed as the captain during 2002-03 – ahead of the then vice-captain, Adam Gilchrist. Aggressive by nature, Ricky was always focused on winning even the game was loosely in his control. Unlike Waugh, he had a ravishing start to his captaincy career – in both ODI as well as test. Ricky Ponting had been successful twice during his World Cup campaigns as a captain, in the year 2003 and 2007 respectively. He also gave a blistering start to his test captaincy career with a 3-0 clean sweep over Sri Lanka. Ponting had a wonderful journey as the leader of the ship, as his records speak of. In ODIs, out of a total of 229 matches played, he has come out shining in 164 games with a winning percentage of over 70%. No different is the case in test matches, where he holds a winning percentage of 62% in 77 matches, sealing triumphs in 48 of them.
The time – close to the end of Ricky Ponting’s captaincy – Australia started to deplete as a world-winning team. Most of the highly skilled and experienced players were either retired or on the verge of that. With the end of Ponting’s captaincy, there was an end to this team’s legacy, who was reigned over a time period of over 12 years. Today, they seem to have built a strong side, but no team is as compelling as it used to be during that era.