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08 November 201012:47

Remembering Australia's CWC triumph

Allan Border, conquered the world by winning the ICC CWC by beating England by seven runs

Remembering Australia's CWC triumph - Cricket News

Allan Border with the World Cup trophy.

8 November marks 23 years since Australia, led by the dogged Allan Border, conquered the world by winning the ICC Cricket World Cup at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata beating England by seven runs.

For some like Dean Jones, a member of that Australia team, the feeling is yet to sink in that it has been 23 years since that eventful day.

"In some sense it feels like yesterday and it doesn't in some other ways. It is quite funny. It equals the biggest thing in world cricket that I have ever experienced. It felt like I was in a movie. I remember while doing the lap of honour and seeing the fireworks go off, I asked David Boon `this looks like we are in the baseball movie The Natural'. What I remember most of that day is that it is still the closest result in an ICC Cricket World Cup final," said Jones.

For Jones' teammate and all-rounder Simon O'Donnell the feeling is somewhat mutual. "It is hard to believe it has been such a long time. The significance of the win makes me believe that it is much shorter than it has been," said O'Donnell.

Jones recalled every minute detail of that day in November 1987. "There were 120,000 people inside the ground. Most of them were India fans who were going for Australia. I remember Mike Veletta's knock which gave us the momentum. I remember Simon O'Donnell trapping Graham Gooch. What I remember most is that in the last five overs it was very difficult to sight the red ball when the likes of (Phil) DeFreitas were batting. Eden Gardens is a very difficult venue when fielding in the deep because you can never spot the ball. In the end for a team ranked worst in the competition to win it was tremendous."

O'Donnell too has a vivid memory of the final. "I remember all of us singing `Billy Don't Be A Hero' at the presentation. I remember the breakfast, the bus ride to the ground. The India crowds supported us because England had knocked out India. Above all it was a bloody hot day."

Jones believes the first game of the tournament against India at Chennai set the tone for the team.

"I think it started off with that magnificent win against India at Madras (Chennai). A year before we played the Tied Test at that venue. I remember in that opening match I hit a six which beat the outstretched hands of Ravi Shastri. Ravi said it was a four but after seeing replays Dickie Bird changed it to a six after we spoke to match adjudicator Hanif Mohammed. Luckily the score moved from 269 to 271 and we won by one run. That result set us on our way to winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987," said Jones.

O'Donnell remembers how the team resolved before the first game to get Australia cricket back in order. "We had a team meeting prior to the first game against India where we made the commitment to each other that we needed to put Australia on the map again from a cricket perspective. So to kick-off the tournament in a positive manner was great," revealed O'Donnell.

Jones believes Chennai was the venue which brought about the renaissance of Australia cricket. The team underwent a pre-tournament training camp at Chennai which is still rated as the best-ever build-up.

"It felt good in Chennai. I felt like it was the re-birth of Australia cricket, because we were awful before the tournament. We sat down then before the tournament and collectively wrote down some rules. We decided to train our backsides off and worked on gameplans. We worked out that teams that take maximum singles win and decided that we need to keep working the ball around for our plan to succeed. There was real bond in the team, I remember Simon O'Donnell being diagnosed with cancer right after the tournament ended. After winning the title it was like a bubble had burst and was difficult for us," said Jones.

O'Donnell is still touched by the reactions of his then teammates. "The ICC Cricket World Cup victory and the build-up to it showed the world what we can achieve on tour. It was an education process for me. It prepared me better for what confronted me when I arrived home," added O'Donnell.

O'Donnell also believes the tone for the tournament was set by the fact that the media did not rate the team too highly.

"The tone was set by media rating Australia so lowly. We thought of it as a slight on our abilities and that in itself was a motivation for us. It brought our group together. We wanted to prove that we were better than this," said O'Donnell.

Times have changed now and Australia enters any ICC Cricket World Cup as one of the teams to watch out for having won the title three times from 1999-2007.

But this time in 2011, Jones sees Australia being just one of the four contenders for the title. "It is probably one of the most open ICC Cricket World Cups. Australia is not playing well now. You never know with Pakistan. I have no doubt India will be there. Sri Lanka has played some fantastic cricket in Australia. I dare say that India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia will be in my top four. Australia will be there just because it has won four times and lost twice. That is not a bad record at all," opined Jones.

O'Donnell though offered an interesting parallel while picking his choice for the 2011 edition.

"If we had the quality and personnel of our 1987 team then we (Australia) will be very hard to beat in 2011. ICC Cricket World Cups are different to our normal season. It is played over an 8 to 10 week period. It depends on which team has the personnel to soak up the pressure mentally and also match up to the demands physically," said O'Donnell.

Jones, one of the top run-getters for Australia in 1987 with 314 runs from eight games, feels with his country having become champions three more times, his side is forgotten at times.

"In a sense it is a forgotten ICC Cricket World Cup. It was not until three years ago that Cricket Australia feted us with gold chains. But it was a different time and what we played for can never be measured. I am sure Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest player since Sir Don Bradman will do anything to have the tag of world champion next to his name," said Jones.

But O'Donnell believes that Australia is very proud of the 1987 team. "I think the players and our cricketing fraternity are still very proud of our achievement. In many ways it set the tone for Australia cricket to hit a course that they have been on until recent times."