World Cup back in Australia
Australia captain Ricky Ponting expressed mixed feelings on the World Cup experience after he arrived back Down Under this morning after the Caribbean tournament.
Ponting refused to criticise the length of the tournament - its duration has been lamented by cricket fans and media around the world - but did appear disappointed with the farcical finish to the final with Sri Lanka, which Australia won by 53 runs after much madness.
"We were running around like lunatics thinking we'd won, when (umpire) Aleem Dar came over and told me, well no, actually the game wasn't over yet," Ponting said at Sydney airport this morning, where the bulk of the team arrived back on home soil.
"To be honest, I really thought he was joking," Ponting continued. "We get on pretty well, Aleem and I, and we like to have a joke now and then, but I thought this particular one was extremely poorly timed."
Of course, the Pakistani official wasn't joking, and having celebrated prematurely, Australia was forced to bowl three more overs with spin bowlers in near darkness at Kensington Oval to record a legitimate result.
"I'd actually planned the bowling so that Glenn McGrath could bowl the last over of the match and his career, so I guess we were denied that opportunity as well," Ponting said.
The Australia team was welcomed home by a small group of family and friends and a sizeable media contingent at Sydney.
Ponting said the team had celebrated long and hard since claiming the World Cup for a third straight time last Sunday morning Australian time.
"(I am feeling) more refreshed than I was two days ago that is for sure," he said.
"The celebrations were long and hard which is what they should be after you win a World Cup.
"There were some pretty amazing scenes coming back to Australia from guys (with) not a lot of clothing on at different hours of the morning, but we celebrated as we should."
Ponting said Australia's second straight undefeated run at a World Cup was an amazing achievement and he continued to praise Adam Gilchrist for his man of the match performance in the final.
"For us to again go through undefeated and once again have a lot of our players peaking at the right time in the World Cup is an amazing achievement by everybody," he said.
"Gilly's innings in the final as I have been flat out telling him, it was unbelievable, that was the one difference between the two teams in the final.
"It has been an amazing couple of months of our lives and even more amazing last few days."
The players will soon head off to a breakfast at the Sydney Cricket Ground before a reception for the team just after noon at Martin Place.
The World Cup was the final tournament for retiring paceman Glenn McGrath and outgoing coach John Buchanan.
Australia, which has now won the World Cup four times, became the first team to win the ccompetition for a third succcessive time when it defeated Sri Lanka by 53 runs in the final in Barbados last weekend.
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