Melbourne: Less than 12 hours after they beat New Zealand by seven wickets and with 101 balls to spare in the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Australian team turned up in full strength for a celebratory show at Federation Square here last morning.
Michael Clarke celebrates Australia's World Cup win with fans at Federation Square in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Thousands of Australian fans, some of whom had been waiting since 10am for the 11:30am function, were handed mini flags and cardboard cut-outs on which they could get autographs of their favourite cricketing heroes. And the players did not disappoint their supporters.
Obliging the fans
The entire 15-member squad walked through the crowd, with only a small railing on both sides acting as a barrier, signing autographs and greeting one and all with smiles and even willingly posing for selfies as deputy prime minister Warren Truss, Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle and Victoria sports minister John Eren cheered on from the sidelines.
Clarke thanked the fans for their undying affection. "It's been a long summer. Thank you for supporting us throughout. This World Cup is a reward of our hardwork and your support," said Clarke. Such is the focus and dedication of the Australian team that even before they can plan a major celebration for their world title, they already have the Ashes on their mind.
Shane Watson takes a selfie with a fan at Federation Square in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP
Come July-August, Australia will bid to win the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001. The five-Test series between the two arch-rivals will commence in July in Cardiff with the second Test being at Lord's, third at Edgbaston, fourth at Trent Bridge and fifth at The Oval in August.
"The Ashes is our focus next up. It will be great to do well there," said opener David Warner. Man of the tournament Mitchell Starc couldn't agree more. "It will be great to win the Ashes in England later this year. We are ready for the challenge," he told reporters here after the hour-long function.
'A well deserved break'
Man of the match in Sunday's final, James Faulkner said he was looking forward to a break at home for a few days, followed by the Indian Premier League, and then the all-important Ashes tour. "It's a well deserved break which I'm looking forward to spending with my family. Then, the IPL will be a lot of fun and after that it's some top Test cricket action in England.
But that's if I make the squad in the first place," said Faulkner with a smile and a wink. Clarke, who retired from ODIs after Sunday's final, warned though that England won't be an easy opponent in the longest format of the game. "England are always tough to beat in their own backyard," he said here before moving back towards the crowd amid cheers and loud music in the background.