Australia captain banks on young players to take the team forward

BARBADOS - Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was excited by the team's future prospects after they'd won an unprecedented third straight World Cup final.

BARBADOS - Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was excited by the team's future prospects after they'd won an unprecedented third straight World Cup final.

He said this even though their victory against Sri Lanka could be seen as a watershed match.

Australia's 53-run rain-affected win here at Kensington Oval marked 37-year-old fast bowler and man of the tournament Glenn McGrath's last game before retirement.

And Saturday's victory was built around a record individual World Cup final score of 149 by 35-year-old wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, who might also have quit come the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent.

But Ponting, 33 later this year and, along with McGrath and Gilchrist, one of only three men to have appeared in three World Cup winning teams (McGrath was also on the losing side when Sri Lanka won in 1996), was confident that Australia could weather a season of farewells.

Australia's 5-0 Ashes thrashing of England, wrapped up in January, featured the end of batsmen Damien Martyn and Justin Langer's international careers before McGrath and legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne, already out of the one-day game, took their leave of five-day cricket at the end of the series.

But Ponting, having seen Australia extend their unbeaten streak at World Cups to a remarkable 29 games with 23 straight wins, had no fears over taking the team forward.

"I'm not worried about that at all. We've had Justin, Shane, Glenn and Damien Martyn leave the Test team at the end of our summer and I'm looking at it as a more exciting time in my career to tell the truth. You're disappointed about losing the greats of the game, but when you get younger guys in it's a really an exciting time.

"It's going to be a challenge for the senior players to make sure they drag the younger guys along with them."

lMore cricket reports on Page 32. - Sapa-AFP

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