Triumphant Aussies return

2007-05-03 09:09
Sydney - Thousands of people lined Sydney's central business district on Thursday to welcome home Australia's triumphant cricketers and celebrate their fourth World Cup victory.

Captain Ricky Ponting and his teammates touched down at Sydney Airport just before dawn after completing the long-haul flight from the Caribbean with cricket's greatest prize tucked safely under their arms.

The players, still wearing their winner's medals, were whisked from the airport to the Sydney Cricket Ground for breakfast with Prime Minister John Howard before being driven into the city centre for a special presentation broadcast live on Australian television.

"It's been an amazing little period in our lives, but we don't take it for granted," Ponting told the crowd.

"Whenever we get a chance to play for Australia we want to be the best team we can and the best individual players we can and over the last eight weeks I think you've seen the whole team play a brand of cricket that probably hasn't been seen before."

Australia won the World Cup for the third time in a row with a convincing 53-run victory against Sri Lanka in Sunday's rain-shortened final in Barbados.

The victory capped a remarkable season in which Australia also won the Champions Trophy and completed a 5-0 series cleansweep in the Ashes.

Shambolic ending

The Australians hardly broke sweat as they coasted through the entire World Cup undefeated, but Ponting said the relative ease of their win and the farcical nature of the finish had failed to dampen their celebrations.

Although the Australians were in complete control of the final, the match was soured by a shambolic ending when the umpires mistakenly called the players back for the last three overs when the match should have already been declared finished.

"The celebrations were long and hard, which is what they should be after you win a World Cup," Ponting told a news conference in Sydney.

"For us to again go through undefeated and once again have a lot of our players peaking at the right time in the World Cup is an amazing achievement by everybody."

Ponting also paid tribute to retiring coach John Buchanan and fast bowler Glenn McGrath, who was named player of the tournament in a fairytale ending to his spectacular career, and said the players were all looking forward to a break after a season that started last September.

"It's not just the World Cup but the Ashes before that and the Champions Trophy," Ponting said.

"We sat down at the start of the summer and said they were the three big trophies that we wanted to win and we managed to win all three of them."

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