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Underdogs no longer: Green provides blueprint for Australia at World Cup

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Australia’s surge from lost cause to equal favouritism for the cricket World Cup has been so
unlikely, it could have come from some kind of kooky Justin Langer motivational fantasy.

Tuesday’s win at Lords achieved the double blow of landing Australia as first team in the
semi-finals while putting England on the brink of elimination. A year ago, England could
barely take Australia seriously in 50-over cricket. It’s some turnaround.

But now the danger starts. The psychology of being favourites does strange things to teams and individuals (the Australians needn’t look far to see what favouritism did to England, who may now be transformed by defeat).

For most humans, launching a run from behind the lead is the most comfortable place. Expectations are lower, pressure is less, and the focus is on improving rather than maintaining form. Favouritism can be a curse. Ask Queensland’s State of Origin team. Ask the Matildas.


If Aaron Finch and his men want inspiration on how to deal with the challenges of sudden and surprising favouritism, they could do a lot worse than study this week’s LPGA win by 22-year-old West Australian Hannah Green, who showed rare mental strength in coping with the stress of being all alone out in front of the field.

Green, ranked 114 in the world, was given no chance of winning a major championship. She had never won a top-tier professional event, never finished in the top 10 in the US, and yet here she was, after three dazzling rounds, leading the world’s best. A major win would be life-changing for Green and the first for an Australian in 13 years.

Nobody in her position could act cool or pretend the stakes weren’t high. Vaulted from outsider to favourite, Green faltered. Midway through the last round, her putting stroke deserted her. Her playing partner, reigning world player of the year Ariya Jutanugarn, was........

© The Age