That's it. If I'm being perfectly honest, that is the piece. In years to come, when somebody asks how Australia won the ODI World Cup in 2023, or any World Cup hereafter, that's the answer. They won the World Cup because Australia.
Of course, that feels like a cop-out. Maybe you need more than that. How? Why? You need a dissection. It's understandable that there are questions. We can talk about all of that but, I'm warning you now, you've heard all of this before. Not with the same characters, with slightly different scenarios and circumstances, but you know this story. The quickest, shortest and indeed most credible answer remains: Australia.
They were absolute underdogs, perhaps for the first time in a modern World Cup final, against a team that had dominated a tournament in the way Australia have dominated two World Cups this century. That side was playing at home, in front of over 90,000 fans, almost all of whom were their own, in conditions in which they commanded impenetrable mastery. In conditions - a slow pitch, with little bounce, taking turn - which may as well have been designed to douse Australian strengths.
Not least their fast-bowling trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. Two things about this trio. One, they are all-time guys. They'd already won an ODI World Cup, a T20 World Cup, a World Test Championship and were holders of the Ashes before they even stepped out on to the field.
Two, they are Australian fast bowlers and, as a species, are rarely bettered. If anyone was going to find a way to work this pitch out, there was a good chance it'd be them. So they cut out width. They shortened lengths. They took pace off as often as they could. They bowled cutters. They found reverse. In short, they sacrificed conventional, more glamorous methods and bowled a little ugly. It wasn't always stirring viewing - like that matters - but they kept a batting order that had hit 397, 410, 326 and 357 in their last four games to four boundaries in total after the first powerplay. Four. It's so incredible it bears repeating. Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, four boundaries after the powerplay.
Naturally, Cummins the captain took on Kohli, the tournament's highest run-getter, its biggest star, on the biggest stage, and took him out. Cummins, who had, before the tournament began, captained in four ODIs and who had, until now, had a low-voltage bowling World Cup.
How did they take out Rohit Sharma, India's most impactful batter of the tournament and their tone-setting captain, amidst the absolute pummelling he was administering them in the powerplay? How do you reckon? As that ball went up and Travis Head started sprinting back, you probably remembered Mitchell Marsh dropping that catch off Kohli all those weeks ago. And as the ball came down in Ahmedabad and Head dived, you knew as everyone else did there was no way he was going to drop it. Not in a final. Not Rohit. Not when it mattered the most.
They began this tournament fielding like they couldn't catch a cold and capped it with one of the catches of the tournament. They ended it as a fielding side - not a batting side or bowling side - that won two powerplays in a row, David Warner in particular diving and hurtling after balls in these games like he was chasing a lost youth.
They then came out in the powerplay against Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, 44 wickets between them in the tournament at an average of 14.32, conceding less than 4.5 runs per over combined. There was swing. There was pace. There was adrenaline. It was under lights. There was noise. And they tore into them. Australia lost a wicket but had hit a sixth of the target by the end of the fourth over. They came so hard that it was beginning to look a little careless, but they rode their luck and by the end of the first powerplay were a quarter of the way to the target.
Sometimes they must laugh to themselves. England have changed their entire cricket culture to bat like this. They've told county cricket it needs to bat like this. They've had a name put on it (in Tests, at least). India too have changed their entire batting culture so they could play like this and win this world title. You know who hasn't done diddly? Australia. Because this is how they are born playing. Head's innings wasn't Bazball. It wasn't a change from an old, tired approach. Head batted, in broad outline, like you remember Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist. Attack and keep attacking is literally one of the nucleotides (no, I didn't either) in their DNA.
Head was here in the first place because they took a pretty outrageous punt on him, keeping him in the squad despite a broken hand. Not a finger, Cummins would point out later, but a hand. What does this broken-handed Aussie do? He comes in and wins three Player-of-the-Match awards, including in the semi and the final. It may not have occurred exactly in this detail before but you've probably joked up a similar scenario about an Australian player before, it's that believable.
"Travis Head epitomises everything you need out of a cricket team," Cummins says
Marnus Labuschagne kept Head company nearly all the way through and was there at the very end. That is Marnus Labuschagne, who was playing in the final having said two months ago that he didn't deserve to be in Australia's World Cup squad. Who first got into it in a pre-tournament series because a player got injured, then another got concussed and he scored an unbeaten 80 to win a game; then another player got injured and he slipped into the World Cup squad; who ended up playing all of Australia's games without ever disproving his own original assessment. And yet, when he found himself in the final with a situation tailormade for his batting, did he blink and mess it up? Did he hell.
India threw their greatest ODI side ever at Australia in Ahmedabad. Just as Pakistan had thrown their greatest ODI side ever at Australia at Lord's in 1999. Just as Sri Lanka had thrown their greatest ODI side ever at Australia at Bridgetown in 2007. Just as New Zealand had thrown their greatest ODI side ever at Australia in 2015. What have we learnt happens when you throw your greatest ever side at Australia in a World Cup final? And is it ever even close?
Ahead of the final, I had searched for the German word that perfectly describes Australia turning up for World Cup finals time and again. A word that holds true no matter the state of Australian cricket, no matter the style of it, no matter the quality of their players, no matter their form, or the way they made it to the final. With some help I found one which has been applied to Bayern Munich's dominance of the German Bundesliga. Turns out it isn't very long and actually has a direct, one-word English translation. It's unvermeidlich. It means inevitable.
As in, Australia, world champions, inevitably.