Itâ€™s approaching 50 years since the maiden ODI was played between Australia and England at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). While T20s are the current darlings of cricket, it was the 50-over format which initially helped raise the popularity and exposure of the sport.
The format gave birth to the ICC World Cup in 1975, a quadrennial competition, which has become the benchmark for greatness in the game. Over the years, there have been several teams to have dazzled with their brilliant performances over both bilateral series and ICC competitions.
In this series, we take a look at eight of the best ODI squads in history. Australiaâ€™s World Cup winning side of 2007 is our focus below.
Openers: Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist (WK)
Middle-order: Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge
Spinners: Brad Hogg
Pacers: Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark
With a squad that retained the core of the 2003 World Cup winning side, Australia did what no other ODI team had done before them. Brimming with seasoned veterans, they managed to make it a hat-trick of World Cup titles after downing Sri Lanka in the 2007 final in Bridgetown.
The World Cup title in the West Indies was just one of the several conquests made by this Australian side. With a winning culture established by their World Cup titles in 1999 and 2003, they went on to win nearly every major ICC competition before them.
This included the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006 a year ahead of the World Cup, as well as the title of the 2009 edition of the same competition. While there were the rare slips in a few bilateral and trilateral series, the Aussies under Ricky Ponting were infallible for the best part of the decade.
Captain â€“ Ricky Ponting
Having earned his wares by leading the Aussies to the 2003 World Cup title, Ricky Ponting would only go on to cement his legacy as the greatest skippers of all time in the coming years.
The Tasmanian was at the helm of an Australian side which captured two World Cups and as many Champions Trophy titles in a period of six years. His record of 164 wins in 228 ODIs as captain is by far the best in history, with his win-loss ration in the format standing at an impressive 3.28.
It helped Ponting that he was clearly the best batsman in the side during his tenure as skipper. In fact, his ODI batting average rose to 43.30 as captain, compared to his average of 41.37 otherwise.
There simply is no other captain in history who comes close to Pontingâ€™s success, both in terms of trophies and longevity.
There is no doubt that the greatest advantage this particular Australia side had over its contemporaries was the wealth of experience in their ranks. The likes of Adam Gilchrist, Ponting and Glenn McGrath had already been a part of two World Cup winning campaigns before they entered the 2007 edition in the West Indies.
This experience was only bolstered by the likes of Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds and Brad Hogg. As many as nine players in their 2007 World Cup squad were over the age of 30, with plenty of them on the last legs of their career.
Australiaâ€™s batting firepower during the period put everyone elseâ€™s to shame with their supreme consistency. Ponting was at his peak as an ODI batsman between 2006 and 2009, with his 10 tons during the interval being the most by any player.
Hayden showed his class in the 2007 World Cup, with the opening batsman plundering his way to 659 runs and three centuries. Ponting and Gilchrist were not far behind with a tally of 539 and 467 runs respectively in the campaign. Meanwhile, a 25-year-old Michael Clarke was at his free-flowing best, with the youngster averaging a sensational 87.20 in the tournament.
The consistency of these four batsmen asserted Australiaâ€™s supremacy despite Michael Hussey having a stinker of a World Cup. The left-hander could only aggregate a paltry 87 runs in the tournament at an average of 17.40.
McGrathâ€™s final hurrah
Entering the 2007 World Cup as a 37-year-old, few expected Glenn McGrath to conjure up the magic that he did in the tournament. The veteran seamer turned on the heat in the Caribbean by delivering his best ever showing in the quadrennial competition.
Picking up 26 wickets in 11 matches at an average of just 13.73, McGrath was the best bowler in the competition by a mile. He was excellently complemented by Shaun Tait, Brad Hogg and Nathan Bracken who claimed a total of 50 wickets between them.
The final against Sri Lanka proved to be McGrathâ€™s final ODI appearance, with the Aussie great signing off in style.
Other contenders falling away early
While Australia were clearly the best side in the 2007 World Cup, the early tournament favourites were massively helped by the fact that some big contenders had a disastrous tournament.
Both India and Pakistan had dismal campaigns in the Caribbean, with the two subcontinent rivals crashing out of the group stages after being upset by Bangladesh and Ireland.
Greatest feat â€“ Undefeated campaign
Although their achievements include four major ICC trophies, the 2007 World Cup win was the cherry on cake for the Australians.
They clinched the title in the West Indies in emphatic manner, just as they did four years earlier in South Africa. Winning all their 11 matches on the way to the trophy, Pontingâ€™s men performed an impressive encore of their undefeated campaign in the 2003 World Cup.
They beat every team in the Caribbean in convincing fashion, with their smallest margin of victory in terms of runs and wickets being 83 runs and seven wickets respectively. South Africa, England and eventual finalists Sri Lanka were thumped twice apiece, while Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand were turned over by 215 runs.
It was utter dominance by the men in yellow who were simply on another level compared to the other competitors in the Caribbean.
Know more about Sport360 Application