The message was clear for South Africa. The Aussies have not liked the No. 1 tag taken away from them. It was cricket at it intense best, and was a refreshing change from some of the low-key affairs this World Cup has dished out. It was over-specific cricket the way it should be played. Good attacking batting and superlative fielding. Australia came out well in the end, but to me if it is these two sides which meet again in the final, the spectators would have got their money's worth and the World Cup would have a match to remember.
What I like most about the World Champions is the positive approach. The plan is the same whether the scoreboard reads 10 for two or 100 for no loss. The depth in batting allows their batsmen to go after the bowling irrespective of the situation. Mike Hussey, one of the better batsmen in world cricket at the moment, does not even get a chance in the middle. And with a rejenuvated Andrew Symonds back in action it is time we save a prayer for bowlers around the planet.
The present Aussie batting can find parallel only with the West Indies team of the late 70's and early 80's for whom attack was the best form of defence. I can vividly remember the halcyon days of Sir Viv Richards, who put the fear of god in bowlers. As a captain, I always searched for answers when the opposing batsmen went after the attack. The natural course when a team is on the rampage is to plug the flow of runs and taking wickets is the last priority. This is what the Australians are so good at: the pressure on the fielding side is always there, and the upper hand is always maintained.
The fielding from both sides was of a different level and a far cry from what other sides have been able to do. It was fascinating for the sheer viewing pleasure it offered. Pity the match took a one-way turn towards the end. I thought if the Proteas had batted first they could have run the defending champs close.
The other match between England and Kenya proved how two teams are playing cricket at the moment and how others are playing catch up. A dull and drab contest that went according to the form book. The only solace was the trio of Collingwood, Flintoff and KP will be in action against better sides and that is a contest worth seeing.
And finally the day India would have dreaded. Hoping for Bermuda to do well on the cricket pitch for them to progress to the next stage of the World Cup does not augur well for the health of our own cricket.