Australia revel in World Cup champions tag

Ben McKay |

Meg Lanning’s Australia finally have the title to match their performances, crowned world champions after a sensational 71-run World Cup final defeat of England.

For five years, the world No.1s were estranged from the ODI World Cup trophy, lost at the 2017 tournament in a semi-final slip to India.

In that time, Lanning’s side have evolved and put together 21 consecutive series wins, an unmatched streak across all of cricket.

But they haven’t been able to say they’re 50-over world champions, the title they’ve craved – until now.

Alyssa Healy, crowned player of the tournament after her stunning 170 in the final made her the leading runscorer, said she knew exactly the emotion she was feeling.

“It’s not relief … it’s just pride,” Healy said.

“We came together as a squad and said ‘this is how we want to play our cricket from now on and we’re going to be the best team in the world’.

“I’m just really proud of this group to have done what we’ve done over the last five years.

“The trophy in our hands just the final little piece of the puzzle.”

Healy said she was unaware of her monster score until a mid-pitch meeting with partner Beth Mooney who said “you could get 200 here”.

“I at no point thought it was anything … it was just watch the ball, hit it, get our team to a good total.”

Even more impressively, Australia saved possibly their best performance for last, smashing 5-356 past England, a total Healy joked was “20 short” of par.

Lanning opted against heading out at three, instead sending Beth Mooney and Ash Gardner into the fray to up the run rate.

“It was pretty special to watch. I was loving every moment of it sitting up there in the stands,” Lanning said.

“It’s taking the game on. It’s being brave … that’s the style of play we want to go out and play.

“At the 2020 T20 World Cup we played our best game on the biggest stage and today we’ve done a very similar thing.”

Lanning faced an agonising call in the build-up to the match on the selection of Ellyse Perry, who suffered back spasms and was touch-and-go to play.

Perry made 17 off 10 in a late cameo and didn’t bowl as expected.

“It was a really tough selection to leave Annabel (Sutherland) out. She’s hadn’t done anything wrong at all,” she said.

“But once Ellyse was declared fit then she was going to come into the team because of the player that she is and the record that she has.”

Australia’s next mission is a T20 tri-series against Pakistan and hosts Ireland in July and the Commonwealth Games, a T20 tournament, also beginning that month.

Beyond that, Australia has a T20 World Cup to defend in South Africa next March – and attention will turn to whether any of this class of world-beaters have had enough.

Vice captain Rachael Haynes is at the top of her game but 35, Perry is 31, while Lanning and Healy both had birthdays while in New Zealand, turning 30 and 32 respectively.

Lanning flat-batted a question on whether anyone might retire, saying “not that I’ve heard of”.

Healy, sitting next to her at the winner’s press conference, was more effusive.

“We’ll be right. We’ll be here,” she said enthusiastically.