Records galore

Glenn McGrath appeals successfully for a lbw against Bryan Murgatroyd. McGrath, who was at his menacing best, took seven wickets for just 15 runs.-Pic. REUTERS

It was a day when records tumbled and the Aussie captain Ricky Ponting was a happy man.

A champion paceman is one who never quite allows the opposition to breathe easy, seldom letting the quality of his performance drop. Irrespective of the standing of the men he is pitted against, irrespective of the situation.

Glenn McGrath was in a mean mood all right in the group `A' clash at Potchefstroom, even as Namibia, chasing Australia's 301, was sent packing in 14 overs for 45. It was a day when records tumbled and the Aussie captain Ricky Ponting was a happy man. "The records are the sign of a very good team. They also show we have some exceptional individuals in the team."

Well, Glenn McGrath's seven for 15 put into shade West Indian Winston Davis' seven for 51 as the best bowling display in the World Cup, 'keeper Adam Gilchrist's tally of six victims was the most in any single game of the competition, and Australia's 256-run victory margin was the highest in ODIs, bettering Sri Lanka's drubbing of India in Sharjah, 2000-2001, by 11 runs.

And punishing southpaw Darren Lehmann's 28 runs off the final over, when he smashed paceman Rudi van Vuuren for four fours and two sixes, was the second highest tally of runs in an ODI over, apart from being a World Cup best.

The Namibians had stretched England, but they found the Aussie new-ball combination of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath too hot to handle. This was heavy artillery fire and they were just blown away.

"The ball has been coming out well throughout the tournament, so I was pretty pleased to get the reward for my bowling. I felt no sympathy for batsmen who were facing at my end. But I went and told a few of them that I was glad it wasn't me facing Brett at the other end," said McGrath following his record breaking effort.

Indeed, Lee, still smarting under the onslaught by Zimbabwe's Andy Blignaut in the previous game, tormented the Namibians, getting the delivery to climb, and the inexperienced batsmen had no clue.

The Aussies play the game hard, there is absolutely nothing given away on the field, yet, captain Ponting admitted to being a little concerned for the Namibians, considering they had never previously been exposed to such explosive pace bowling. "I was also a bit worried for the batsmen. You don't want anyone to get seriously hurt out there."

The Namibians, timid in their response, were easy pickings for McGrath, after Lee had softened them up from the other end. It was happy hunting for Gilchrist behind the stumps.

Only the Namibian captain Deon Kotze managed to reach double figures and his words at the end of the mismatch told the story. "We were simply blown away by two of the best bowlers in the world. We need to learn to play the lengths these guys were bowling. It was as much the length as the speed that was our downfall."

Indeed, the fact that McGrath achieves bounce from just short of a good length on an off-stumpish line, makes him a serious threat to batsmen far more accomplished than the inexperienced Namibians, who lacked the technique to cope.

Earlier in the day, prolific opener Mathew Hayden rattled up a 73-ball 88 (nine fours, three sixes), Andrew Symonds made a strokeful 59 (63b, 2x4, 2x6) and then arrived Lehmann's furious onslaught in the final over.

Michael Bevan, such a key player in the Australian ranks, was promoted to No. 3 to gain some valuable match practice. However, he struggled to find his timing, his 17 runs consuming 42 deliveries.

Considering the powerful Aussie batting, and the rather frail Namibian bowling, it would have been a creditable effort from the minnows had it restricted the world champion to within a score of 300. Lehmann wouldn't let that happen though.

Poor Van Vuuren, who had a pretty profitable time with the ball till that point, even recording a five-wicket haul against England, didn't quite know what hit him as Lehmann cut loose.

The hapless paceman was struck for four boundaries and two sixes, the final one off the last ball, that catapulted Lehmann past the half century-mark, clearing the mid-wicket fence by a long way.

Then came McGrath's wicket-taking spell, and Lee's ferocious burst. One could only sympathise with the Namibians.

The scores:

Australia: A. Gilchrist b Van Rooi 13; M. Hayden b L. Burger 88; M. Bevan c & b L. Burger 17; A. Symonds (run out) 59; R. Ponting c Kotze b L. Burger 2; D. Martyn b Kotze 35; D. Lehmann (not out) 50; B. Hogg (not out) 19. Extras (lb-8, w-6, nb-4) 18. Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs) 301.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-104, 3-140, 4-146, 5-230, 6-231.

Namibia bowling: Van Vuuren 10-0-92-0, Van Rooi 6-0-24-1, Kotze 10-0-62-1, L. Burger 10-139-3, Kotze 10-0-54-0, J. Burger 4-0-22-0.

Namibia: J. Burger c Ponting b McGrath 4; S. Swanepoel c Ponting b Lee 2; M. Karg c Gilchrist b McGrath 4; D. Keulder c Gilchrist b McGrath 3; G. Murgatroyd lbw b McGrath 0; D. Kotze c Gilchrist b McGrath 10; L. Burger c Gilchrist b McGrath 1; M. Van Schoor c Gilchrist b Bichel 6; B. Kotze b McGrath 0; B. Van Rooi (not out) 0; R. Van Vuuren c Gilchrist b Bichel 0. Extras (lb-4, w-6, nb-5) 15. Total (in 14 overs) 45.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-14, 3-16, 4-17, 5-28, 6-34, 7-45, 8-45, 9-45.

Australia bowling: McGrath 7-4-15-7, Lee 6-1-26-1, Bichel 1-1-0-2.