With a broad smile on his face and a medal hanging around his neck, Pat Cummins kept the World Cup trophy on the dais before he started addressing the media on Sunday night.
Barely an hour back, Australia won its record sixth ODI World Cup title, defeating favourite India at the Narendra Modi Stadium, and captain Cummins seemed happy to have silenced the home crowd - something that he had hoped for on the eve of the marquee clash.
It was not easy to stop a rampaging India - which won all 10 games in the tournament, including the semifinal - in the summit clash. But once again proving its character, Australia took a brave decision by winning the toss and opting to bowl on what turned out to be a slow wicket, and eventually managed to bundle out India for 240.
“It’s huge. I think that’s the pinnacle of international cricket - winning an ODI World Cup, especially over here in India, in front of a crowd like this,” Cummins said.
Coming into the tournament after a disappointing series against South Africa, Australia lost its first two games before bringing its campaign back on track. And once it gained the momentum, there was no looking back.
“It has been a big year for everyone. Our cricket team has been here in India (for Tests), (played the) Ashes, (won the) World Test Championship and to top it off with this is just huge and these are the moments that you’ll remember for the rest of your life…” the captain said.
Amid debates over the future and the relevance of the 50-over format, Cummins had no hesitations in admitting that things couldn’t get better than this.
“You only get a shot at it every four years. Even if you have a ten-year career, you might only get two chances at it. And yeah, it’s just the whole cricket world stops with this World Cup. So, it doesn’t get any better…”
Chasing a rather tricky total, Australia struggled at 47 for three at one stage before Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne stepped up and stitched a match-winning partnership. And, the captain heaped praise on Head, who stamped his class throughout the tournament despite missing the early stages due to a hand injury.
“Travis was phenomenal. A lot of credit should also go to Andrew McDonald and George Bailey, the selectors, to take a punt. He (Head) had a broken finger, and a broken hand for half of the tournament, but to keep him in the squad was a huge risk. And the medical team were fantastic, obviously, to get him into a place where he could perform,” Cummins said.
“Trav, the player we have seen in Test cricket, just epitomises everything I want out of a cricket team. He takes the game on, he plays with a smile, he just puts the pressure right back onto the opposition and he’s just great fun to be around,” Cummins said, adding with a smile: “I couldn’t be happier for Trav…”
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