2010-10-13 16:40

Captain: Ricky Ponting (nickname Punter)

Number of World Cup Participations: 9

ODI ranking (at November 2010): 1

Coach: Tim Nielsen

World Cup Champions: 1987, 1999, 2003 & 2007

The Australian cricket team has a well-earned reputation for success at the highest level. They have won the cricket World Cup an unprecedented 4 times, including a hat-trick of wins between 1999 and 2007.

As the oldest Test playing nation in the game, along with England, the men from Down Under honour amongst their ranks some of the finest cricketers ever to have graced the sport: Don Bradman, Dennis Lillee, the Waugh brothers, Allan Border, David Boon, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee just to name a few. But one name stands out in current circles as the next true Australian great, and that man is Ricky Ponting. Not without troubles with discipline in his earlier playing years, the Australian skipper has achieved not only 3 World Cups for his country, but also kept them at the number 1 position in both Test and ODI formats for the bulk part of two decades.

This coupled with his personal tallies of over 12,000 Test runs and 13,000 ODI runs means that Punter has left an indelible mark on the sport. The 2011 Cricket World Cup is likely to be his last, and although he may relinquish the captaincy to his young understudy Michael Clarke, it's likely that Ponting will have a large part to play if Australia are to take their 5th title.

Of late, Australia's dominance of world cricket has been ably challenged by pretenders to the crown South Africa, as well as the might of India and an increasingly strong (if ever eclectic) England. The 2011 Cricket World Cup will be their toughest challenge in years, but they bring a strong mix of youth and experience into the fray with the likes of Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Shane Watson and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin likely to lead their campaign with the bat.

They bring a good mix of extremely fast and aggressive pace bowling with them too, with ex-Dutch opening bowler Dirk Nannes, out-and-out quick Shaun Tait, and spearhead Mitchell Johnson looking to frighten the life out of batsmen of all abilities, supported by seamers Ben Hilfenhaus, and the workmanlike Peter Siddle.

Their weakness may come in the spin department, where they are likely to leave the duties to studious, but not quite world class Nathan Hauritz, and just-more-than-part-time Marcus North. Especially in the sub-continent, where good spinners are lethal and bad spinners are punished, these two will need to bring their A-games.

 The Aussies celebrate another wicket. (Getty)


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