'99 Revisited: The beginning of an Aussie legend

It was on this day back in 1999 that Steve Waugh's Australians launched one of the most remarkable runs in World Cup history

Australia begin a World Cup win streak against Bangladesh

After two defeats in their first three matches, Australia needed to go unbeaten through the remainder of the 1999 World Cup tournament if they were to lift the trophy at Lord's. It seemed an unlikely prospect.

But Shoaib Akhtar's ill-advised 'sly kick' at Australia captain Steve Waugh in their previous match had stoked the competitive fires in the skipper's belly. 

Despite going down to Pakistan by 10 runs, Waugh made one of the boldest predictions of a career characterised by fearlessness.

"We just have to win our next seven games," he told the sceptical Australian media pack, after being asked how a team that had thus far managed only a victory over Scotland could hope to win a tournament they had entered as warm favourites.

"We're capable of doing that."

With a misfiring top-order batting outfit, bowlers unable to snare wickets or even stem runs and fielders who looked like they would rather be seated in front of a hearth than enduring a chilly English spring, it was a pronouncement that few other than the Australian skipper took seriously.

But the Aussies had a cathartic and lengthy airing of grievences in the dressing room following their defeat to Pakistan at Headingley, and the team moved on to Durham ahead of their fourth match, against Bangladesh.

It was in Durham, at a pizza restaurant in the carpark of a retail hub, where another important step forward was taken, with Waugh arranging the dinner in the days prior to the game to which Warne, Tom Moody, Ricky Ponting and former Australia captain Allan Border were all invited.

Ponting's World Cup memories: The '99 turning point

The cuisine choice was a salve to Warne who had cut a dispirited figure since being dropped from the Test team during the preceding series in the Caribbean where he was making his comeback from shoulder surgery, but the inclusion of Border was even more of a master stroke.

"No one directly raised the issue of the current team's struggles," Ponting wrote in his autobiography 'At the Close of Play', noting he remains unsure why he was included on the guest list.

"But what this night did was remind everyone at our table that mateship matters and that all we have in common was a lot more important than anything annoying us."

There was tension between Shane Warne and Steve Waugh during the 1999 World Cup // Getty

Ponting expanded on that for, noting: "A team dinner at a Pizza Hut in a World Cup! That wouldn't happen these days.

"But that was just what we needed," Ponting continued. "We needed to have all the pressure, all the build up of a World Cup and Steve Waugh wanting so much to win a World Cup as captain .... we maybe put too much pressure on ourselves. 

"A World Cup, yes it's a huge event, one everyone wants to be part of and win, but you've still got to find a way to give you and your team the best chance of winning every game, and that shouldn't be different to any other one-day game you play."

Ponting's World Cup Memories: The '99 turnaround

With Warne's spirits on the rise, Waugh spent match eve in his hotel room, with a room service club sandwich and cola while watching on television Manchester United score two goals in injury time to snatch a stunning Champions League final win over Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

"Right there and then I lifted, realising it was only willpower we needed to steer us out of trouble," he later wrote of that inspirational moment.

While nobody seriously expected Bangladesh to challenge their heavyweight opponent the following day, it was clear from Australia's selection changes they were chasing more than winners' points.

Andrew Ramsey, senior writer with, was there to witness history unfold. The following is an extract from his book, The Wrong Line

Haunted by memories of Australia's historically humiliating loss to similarly unfancied Zimbabwe when the World Cup had been last held in England 16 years earlier, Waugh's men knew they not only had to win but win emphatically if they were to start believing their own rhetoric.

They reshaped their team, bringing in allrounder Tom Moody at the expense of batsman Damien Martyn – as much for Moody's leadership and clear thinking as for his power hitting that might generate some much-needed batting momentum.

It was also thought his handy medium-pacers delivered from a towering height might be tough for the diminutive Bangladeshi batters even though they were still riding high from their first-ever World Cup win over Scotland five days earlier.

The same rationale explained the inclusion of another tall allrounder, Brendon Julian, in place of steady seamer Paul Reiffel, and when the Australians chose to field first it was clear they were looking for a quick kill.

Tom Moody set a World Cup record for the time with a 28-ball fifty // Getty

But despite losing regular wickets, Bangladesh – under their coach, former West Indian batting great Gordon Greenidge – were anything but intimidated, and their 50-over total of 7-178, while scarcely daunting, provided plenty on which to ruminate during the early afternoon innings break.

That was when the change of thinking that was to define the rest of the Australians' campaign first became evident.

They set themselves the target of blasting past the victory target within the space of 20 overs, partly to try and hit their way out of their batting woes and largely to deliver a sorely needed spike in their run rate that had flatlined and was likely to prove crucial in the latter stages of the tournament.

So openers Mark Waugh – who should have been dismissed for a duck in the first over – and more noticeably Adam Gilchrist launched themselves at the modest Bangladesh attack and were halfway to victory in less than 12 overs.

Adam Gilchrist smashed 63 from 39 balls against Bangladesh // Getty

Julian was then promoted to No.3 to continue the onslaught, and Moody came in at four to fulfil his charter by clubbing an unbeaten 56 from 29 balls (his fifty in 28 balls was a World Cup record at the time) to add to the three wickets he had captured earlier in the day and see his team reach their stated 20-over goal with a ball to spare.

He was duly named player of the match and cemented his place in the starting XI for the remainder of the tournament which, if not yet within the Australians’ grasp, still held the notional prospect of proving Steve Waugh correct.

Now the equation had reduced simply to six wins from six matches.

Australia's 1999 World Cup

May 16: Beat Scotland by six wickets in Worcester

May 20: Lost to New Zealand by five wickets in Cardiff

May 23: Lost to Pakistan by 10 runs at Headingley

May 27: Beat Bangladesh by seven wickets at Chester-le-Street

May 30: Beat West Indies by six wickets at Old Trafford 

June 4: Beat India by 77 runs at The Oval (Super Six)

June 9: Beat Zimbabwe by 44 runs at Lord's (Super Six)

June 13: Beat South Africa by five wickets at Headingley (Super Six)

June 17: Tied with South Africa at Edgbaston (Semi-final)

June 20: Final v Pakistan at Lord's