BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 29, 2007– Retiring Australia coach John Buchanan said it was his nation’s destiny to be at the cutting edge of cricket after they had won a third straight World Cup title.
Australia’s victory over Sri Lanka by 53 runs in a rain-affected match here at Kensington Oval meant his players gave Buchanan, 54, a winning send-off in his last game as coach after eight years in charge.
Buchanan, whose first-class playing career extended to just seven matches with Queensland in the late 1970s, took charge of Australia shortly after their 1999 World Cup triumph.
Although supervising a gifted side, featuring 2007 World Cup man of the tournament Glenn McGrath, who retired as a player after Saturday’s game, and Adam Gilchrist, whose 149 was the highest individual score in a World Cup Final, Buchanan has been credited with extending the team’s horizons.
Buchanan, set to concentrate on what had been a motivational speaking sideline, had challenged the rest of the world to match Australia’s standards after they beat India in the 2003 World Cup Final in Johannesburg.
But while now reluctant to pass on tips to other nations, Buchanan was clear where the sporting future of Australia, whose Institute of Sport in Canberra has been a template for many countries, lay.
“I think it’s our role always to lead change, to lead new ideas to be right at the cutting edge of cricket or of sport in fact.
“Then it’s up to other countries to try to chase us,” Buchanan, formerly coach of Queensland and English county Middlesex, added.
“I think in a sense we’re not interested in what other countries have to do, it’s what we still have to do.”
India, following the resignation of Greg Chappell and West Indies, after the departure of Bennett King, are among two leading sides looking for a new coach after World Cup failures.
But Buchanan said he had no interest in becoming the latest Australian to take charge of another country.
“I suppose you can never say never but right at the moment no. I feel very loyal to the team that I coach and the players that I’ve worked with. So right at the moment I’m looking to venture into new territory altogether. This sort of role will be a thing of the past for me.”
Buchanan said the key to Australia’s enduring success – they are the world’s best Test side and have now gone 29 games unbeaten at the World Cup – began with the players.
“Each individual has strived for perfection all the time. From a coach’s point of view, that is the perfect team. The perfect team is the one that keeps wanting to be better day in and day out.
“I’ve been basically a passenger for the last three years or so. I get there (to practice), put the gear out and bring it back in again.”
But Australia captain Ricky Ponting said: “We shouldn’t let the coach get away with that. He’s challenged us all the whole time he’s been in charge of this team.
“He’s always been overlooked
“It’s not an easy thing to do to take over a team that’s already playing good cricket and make it better.
“But he’s been able to do that with me and with all of us. Some of that is to do with the players, but a lot of it is also to do with how you’re coached as well.”
And while Buchanan may have called time on his coaching career, McGrath appeared ready to launch his own – for a price.
Asked what it would take to beat Australia, the smiling fast bowler replied: “I don’t think I’ll give that away for free.”