At the start of the tournament, the doomsayers predicted that if injury came back to claim Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie or me, Australia's campaign at this World Cup would end. A couple of days ago, Dizzy (Gillespie) had to put an end to his World Cup because of a strained tendon at the back of his heel. Warney, of course, had to leave without a single game. Yet, we have continued winning, and have won our second game, in the absence of these two wonderful bowlers, with style.
My statement at the start of the tournament that we would like to go through this tournament undefeated was seen as an idle boast. Six games down the line everyone agrees that it is a distinct possibility. In this scenario, I would say that our performance against Sri Lanka has been our most accomplished one so far.
There was concern whether my workload would increase in the absence of Dizzy. However, Andy Bichel's seven-wicket haul put those doubts to rest. Bichel has been at the edge of the team for quite some time now, and has filled the shoes of the third pace bowler with remarkable efficiency. Brad Hogg, who had a baptism by fire in this World Cup, has made crucial breakthroughs in virtually every game, and his fielding square of the wicket has been a huge bonus.
This is where the Australian team has an advantage above teams like Sri Lanka. If Muthiah Muralitharan is ruled out of a game, the attack would be hugely affected. For Australia, when Warney withdrew, Hogg did the job and ensured that the team did not suffer at all.
However, I do feel for my mate Dizzy. His right leg has been giving him trouble ever since that terrible collision with Steve Waugh in 1999. Steve got away lightly with a broken nose, but Dizzy has had a tough time with injury. While this proves that Steve has a tough nose to have damaged Dizzy's leg so badly, it's also misfortune that this injury cropped up during a World Cup. Preliminary reports suggest that the strain is not on the Achilles, but on a rare tendon that exists in only 20 per cent of mankind. Fortunately, it is not serious enough to keep him out of the West Indies tour. That will be consolation to the mild-natured fast bowler.
We go to Port Elizabeth for our next Super Six game, against New Zealand. The Trans-Tasman run-ins in cricket have always been exciting, and a World Cup encounter would be even more so. We did not do too well in Port Elizabeth against England, but that game has given us a feel of the slow wicket, and this should help us against the slower bowlers in the Kiwi side who might relish the conditions. This time round we will be able to adjust better to the lack of pace, but I hope we are provided with a wicket that is better than the one we played on against England.
Our batting looked at its best in this tournament, with Adam Gilchrist launching the offensive in grand style. He was desperately disappointed not to have got a century, and being run-out in the non-striker's end on 99 is pretty unlucky. It was only a matter before Gilly (Gilchrist) got his crisp timing and explosive strokeplay going. Chaminda Vaas was bowling with plenty of confidence, and once again Gilly showed that he is one of the few players in modern-day cricket who can demoralize bowlers within the span of a few overs.