Three successive World Cup titles, a 29-match unbeaten run, and an upcoming appearance record are all irrelevant for Australia right now, Ricky Ponting, their captain. He is solely focused on the here and now.
Records mean nothing to Ricky Ponting without victories to go with them
Three successive World Cup titles, a 29-match unbeaten run, and an upcoming appearance record are all irrelevant for Australia right now, Ricky Ponting, their captain, said yesterday.
All that matters, Ponting told reporters, is starting the 2011 tournament with a victory against Zimbabwe today.
Ponting shrugged off questions relating to Australia's unfamiliar place down the list of teams favoured to lift the trophy in six weeks' time. He also said his players were unconcerned with Australia's previous dominance, and never talked about the team's No 1 one-day ranking.
The three-time defending champions' unbeaten streak at the tournament was "an incredible achievement," Ponting said, but he wants his new group of players to create their own records and "forge their own identity" at the top limited-overs tournament, beginning with their opening Group A match.
"We're not here to defend anything, we're here to win again," Ponting said. "That's what it's all about for us. We want to win another World Cup ... and we'll start the whole process [today], hopefully with a good performance.
"We don't think about the past, or how many games we have won. We know what's ahead of us, and that's 100 overs against Zimbabwe."
With winning in 2011 the sole focus for Ponting's squad, which has nine new players from four years ago, the captain said he had not even realised he was about to break a World Cup record at Ahmadabad's Sardar Patel Stadium.
The 36-year-old Ponting, at his fifth World Cup, will overtake Glenn McGrath, the former Australia fast bowler, when he plays his 40th tournament match.
"I actually got asked a few questions when we got here about who had played the most games in the history of World Cups and I didn't know. It ended up being me. Those things are all nice when you're finished, but certainly not right now ... The real stuff starts for us now."
Ponting also backed his fast bowlers and batsmen to succeed at the World Cup, even on the slow, spin-friendly pitches of the subcontinent. Australia's attack will be heavily weighted toward pace bowlers Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson.
"There's a lot made of our fast bowlers. I don't care who we're playing, or what the conditions are, if our fast bowlers play as well as they can it's going to be difficult for anyone playing them," he said.
Australia's pacemen, however, hold no fear for Zimbabwe, according to Alan Butcher, their coach.
"We have a fair idea how they'll bowl. If we play our best cricket and they don't, we may have a chance," Butcher told reporters.
"If both sides play their best cricket, it's very likely that we will lose," he added, perhaps remembering his side have not beaten a Test-playing nation in the 50-over World Cup for 12 years.
Zimbabwe have beaten Australia at the tournament before, a stunning upset in 1983, but that has provided little encouragement for the 2011 group.
Elton Chigumbura, the captain, added that "those  players are gone now."
* Associated Press