11: Australia - Damien Fleming
Australia’s World Cup record stands above all others. After 2019 they sit on 5 titles and justifiable claims to be the World Cup kings over its 44 year history, with India and the West Indies sitting far behind on two wins each. Implausible as it may now seem though, going into 1999 Australia were more seen as the World Cup chokers. After its outsider win in 1987 Australia had seemingly set the pace in ODI cricket leading into its hosting role in 1992, and had earned outright favouritism. But they were mugged by teams with big ideas and new methods, and with the weight of a nation upon them failed to reach the semi-finals. 1996 was seen as its chance at redemption, with one of the best teams in the world now boasting two new bowling stars in Warne and McGrath. A miracle semi-final win saw them reach the final but again they were undone by innovation when Sri Lanka rode a new style of attacking batting to upset the team that saw themselves as the world’s best. So by #Ninety9 the Aussies still comfortably sat among the best few teams in the world and yearned for the chance to crown the decade with the World Cup win they thought they would get in 92 and 96. But not everything in the Australian camp was right in Ninety9 and they soon found themselves in internal battles before an external battle early in the tournament – the word redemption was quickly replaced by survival. Australian teams of this era have a reputation as the flint-hard pros who saw cricket as war more than sport. But there were counterpoints to that stereotype, fast bowler Damien Fleming. His frustrating battle with injuries through most of the 90s robbed him of many Australian caps but perhaps helped instil a perspective and humour that was essential to the pressure cooker situation Australia found itself in during the 99 World Cup. And when the Australian team faced its most desperate battle for survival the ball was in Flem’s hands. Damien Fleming joins us on TGSTW presents World Cup 99. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/TGSTW See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.