Andrew McDonald Credits 'Subcontinent Journey' For WTC Triumph
Having missed out due to over-rate penalties in the 2019-21 cycle, Australia on Sunday became the first team to win ICC world titles across formats when they defeated India by 209 runs
They might have failed to conquer the 'Final Frontier' on their last tour of India, but Australia head coach Andrew McDonald feels their "sub-continent journey" helped them get the World Test Championship mace. Having missed out due to over-rate penalties in the 2019-21 cycle, Australia on Sunday became the first team to win ICC world titles across formats when they defeated India by 209 runs in a lopsided WTC Final at The Oval. "You can string down series in isolation, you can talk about the subcontinent journey where we went from Pakistan to Sri Lanka into India," McDonald told reporters.
"We had to navigate through that. So, it was a tricky World Test championship cycle and I think the wins in the subcontinent got us here." The Pat Cummins-led side had enjoyed some splendid wins in the sub-continent before travelling to India in pursuit of its first Test series triumph since 2004-05 in the final leg of the WTC cycle.
Before travelling to India, Australia won a three-match series in Pakistan 1-0 with a crushing 115-run defeat of the hosts in Lahore in March.
Then in Sri Lanka, they won the first Test by 10 wickets only to go down by an innings and 39 runs in a drawn 1-1 series.
On turning Indian conditions where the matches failed to last the distance, Australia's biggest bright spot in a 1-2 loss was their nine-wicket win in the third Test in Indore. It also sealed their WTC Final berth with a round to spare in the 2021-23 cycle.
"We're really strong in Australia. So I think that most people would expect us to be winning Test matches in Australia, but to be able to execute in Pakistan, win a Test match in Sri Lanka and then to get that win in Indore to secure a place in the final was vitally important to give us this opportunity. And we've been able to take that, so it's a job well done." The 42-year-old further said they were just buying into the "new concept" of the WTC having missed out on the inaugural final in 2021.
"It's a new concept. But we're certainly buying into the concept and I think that was probably the disappointment of the first couple of years when it was in existence where we missed out due to over rate so we've made it a significant focus of ours.
"Every time we come into a series we're checking in around where we are, there's a ladder, albeit stretched out over two years, which is a little bit different to other sports, but yeah, it's high on the priority list.
"And you put on the priority list, you want to be here and you want to win it and that's what we've been able to do. So it's right up there. And if you go into that dressing room at the moment, there's a lot of happy people about, reflecting on what they've been able to achieve over the last few years." The focus however will shift to the marquee Ashes showdown in less than a week when they will be looking to break a 22-year drought in England.
"Probably the next 24 hours we will switch our focus as you will, in what you do to the Ashes and the first Test," he said.
The five-match Ashes begins with the Edgbaston Test from Friday.
"We can't wait for it to come around. First was the World Test Championship final. Let's enjoy what the team's been able to achieve over the last couple of years and then get excited about Edgbaston ball one.
"So one thing that we've got to factor into England is how we deny them those boundaries. So there's a couple of things that we can potentially tidy up and take from this game into the next one, but different opponent. So we'll get back to the drawing board around that."
Scott Boland's impressive show -- five wickets -- in the WTC Final has led to a selection headache.
With Josh Hazlewood set to return, left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc's spot could come under the scanner, especially after leaking runs against India.
"India showed good intent at certain times and the game went at high three-four runs per over," he said.
"Mitch at times went a bit more than that and he generally goes at a fraction more than the other bowlers, and they complement each other really, really well. His wicket-taking ability is second to none. We've got to weigh all that up when we make decisions.
"But it's not a concern because we know what we're in for in the summer is slightly higher run-rate and that's because of the grounds and the surfaces.
"We value Mitch and what he's been able to do but we also value Scott and Josh and Patty (Cummins) is clearly an automatic pick being the captain and then you've got Nathan Lyon and Cameron Green in and around that.
"We feel as though we've got really good coverage and we've got some people here playing county cricket if anything should go wrong," the coach concluded.
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