We are just 10 days away from the final at a packed MCG – and I can’t wait to see it.
I was lucky enough to play in a few of these matches and there is no denying they are among the most special of my career and for those 22 lucky players, it will be the same.
Every big game I went in to, especially when I was captain of Australia, I told the boys to embrace the moment for what it is. Don’t let it run away from you, don’t treat it like any other game, because it is not. The more you can express to yourself and to others that this is a bigger game, then you are not trying to hide anything and the better you will play.
The MCG is my favourite cricket ground in the world bar none. It is one of the great sport venues anywhere in the world. We have the Boxing Day Test and I have so many great memories of walking out here in front of close to 100,000 people. When the national anthem comes on, the hair on the back of your neck stands up. You think you are invincible and nothing can stop you.
Moments like that can overwhelm a player but, in truth, as much as you try and keep a lid on it, when you turn up, there are always nerves and adrenaline.
However, the more exposure you have to those games, the better you are able to deal with it. I was lucky enough to be in that situation a few times and a couple as captain.
As captain, there is more pressure to get everything right, to get the toss right, to get the selections right and to be bang on tactically. In the 50-over games I played in, one tactical change could be the difference between winning and losing, so there are always those thoughts going on.
In many ways, the semi-finals are just as tough. There was probably a bit more pressure in the last over of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 1999 semi-final against South Africa than what we would have hoped for!
Paul Reiffel almost caught Lance Klusener at long-on in the second-to-last over and, when the ball was in the air, I thought we had won. But Paul knocked it over for six and I thought there and then that I wouldn’t speak to him for the rest of my life, because it appeared to have lost us the game.
You talk about pressure but we handled that situation better because South Africa needed one run off the final two or three balls and yet, we won. It is all about staying in the moment and, looking back, they are the moments you miss as a player.
Honestly, who knows who is going to be playing in Melbourne. I hope Australia find a way to get through the group. South Africa are the only unbeaten team left so they will be dangerous but I will say what I did at the start and that is an Australia v India final. (Note: They have since lost to Pakistan)
Australia have been a little bit off in most departments and India are missing Jasprit Bumrah, but it is about playing your best cricket in the second half of the tournament and that is what teams must plan to do.
I will be at the final and I really can’t wait. If there are people who have not seen the MCG host a major game before, you must come and experience it. It is hard to explain but this place makes you feel like you are apart of what is happening out there and that is quite unique.
When I have looked around the stadiums here and seen the crowds that have turned up and the cricket that has been played, it has been a great tournament. There have been some upsets along the way, which has added a lot to it and the India v Pakistan game was an awesome spectacle. I am sure by the time we get to the final, it will be something special.
Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.