In 12 days of February, Australia lost five consecutive one-day matches. This can be seen now as no more than a juggernaut suffering a puncture. In 18 days of March they won five straight World Cup games and never looked like doing anything but.
During and after the losing streak, the Australians mentioned that while they were not in the business of being defeated, the matches against England, in the CB Series, and New Zealand, in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy coincided with a deliberately intensive training regime aimed at ensuring they reached a peak for the World Cup. How observers scoffed at such mumbo-jumbo. They are not scoffing now.
Having been kept waiting for five hours by some ineffective and ridiculous drying procedures, Australia brushed aside Bangladesh on Saturday. The match was reduced to 22 overs a side. Bangladesh made 104 for 6 after their panic-ridden start. Australia reached the target in 83 balls.
Adam Gilchrist struck a series of searing fours to begin, Matthew Hayden clubbed two sixes in four balls to conclude. Mouths opened in disbelief at the brutal, swashbuckling nature of it. It is possible that some team will beat the defending champions but it will need everything to go right for them, everything to go wrong for Australia and the planets to be aligned in a certain way.
Another vague possibility is a conspiracy by the ground staff to prevent them playing. The efforts to start after torrential overnight rain were hopeless. The drying equipment, amounting to little more than two small rollers and two pieces of foam, was risibly inadequate.
As the players and fans waited, ground staff went to have lunch, lending more credence to the long held theory that groundsmen, having lovingly tended their pitches, would prefer that they were not played on.Reuse content