Positive attitude pays rich dividends

“Under the leadership of Ricky Ponting, the Australian team was not afraid of taking risks and could challenge any situation. That indomitable spirit helped us get past the West Indies in the final.”

Brad Hogg is congratulated by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist for dismissing West Indies batsman Dwayne Bravo in the ICC Champions Trophy final in Mumbai.   -  K. R. Deepak

It’s been 11 years since we won the first Champions Trophy title for Australia, but even today, that tournament remains special to me. It is not because we outplayed the West Indies in the final, but because it was the only ICC tournament which we hadn’t won till then.

While we won consecutive World Cup titles in 1999 and 2003, a Champions Trophy title had eluded us. Every player knew that we were in top form and the side was really strong. Even then, our earlier winless Champions Trophy campaigns were bothering our mental peace.

However, we travelled to India with all the bases covered. The batting line-up had Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds. The bowling line-up was packed with pacers — Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken. This was the time when we realised that it is better to tour India with a heavily loaded pace attack rather than have too many spinners. In Indian conditions, it was difficult to crack the spin code, but we tried our best to do it the other way. And it worked well for us.

Under the leadership of Ponting, the team was not afraid of taking risks and could challenge any situation. That indomitable spirit helped us get past the West Indies in the final. I think we got this never-say-die attitude from Steve Waugh, who ensured that the Australians dominated across all formats. Be it at home or away, the team shouldn’t be scared of taking risks. That’s something even the squad of 2006 followed. And the result is out in the open.

I remember that tournament for another reason. It was another example of how a host nation could choke in an ICC event. Being the tournament favourite, India was under tremendous pressure and it failed to even cross the early stage.

We, however, were lucky to fulfil the expectations. It was important for us to adjust to the overseas conditions, and we coped pretty well. That was one of the major reasons behind our success.

Looking back at the final at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, I feel, our well-planned effort was good enough to down the West Indies side. Many believe that the side was obsessed with Chris Gayle, but that was not the case. They also had Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to take care of things. 

Glad that there were no Caribbean fireworks that evening. The atmosphere in the Australian dressing room was fantastic, because we could finally win a tournament that had looked jinxed all this while. The players respected each other and pressed hard for one goal. A happy unit can seldom disappoint, and the 2006 Champions Trophy was a perfect example of that.

(As told to Shayan Acharya)

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