The Real World Champions
Many of us perhaps wanted New Zealand to win the World Cup final because they were the underdogs for whom there is natural sympathy, but more so because it would have been nice for a ‘non-elite’ country to be World Champions, ahead of the three self-appointed so-called elite nations. But it was always going to be a big ask for them. They were playing for the first time in months in Australia where the atmospheric condition was totally different and where the crowd support would, naturally, be overwhelmingly for the home side. Also, MCG is a much bigger ground than most of the grounds in New Zealand where the New Zealanders had played all their World Cup matches till the final. They had no match practice in Australia and the adaptations they were required to make, almost overnight, proved a bit too much for them.
But it would be completely wrong to suggest that Australia won simply because the final was played in Australia. They are, by some distance, the most professional and the most committed side in the world which makes them the best. You do not win five World Cups without being the very best and that is what they are without a doubt. They have established a stronger hold on this World Cup than even the Brazilians on the football World Cup and the rest of the world will have to find a way to break their stranglehold if future World Cups are not to be forgone conclusions.
Australia gave a near flawless performance and to be honest, New Zealand were hardly ever in it after losing McCullum in the first over. A lot of people would say that’s the way McCullum plays but in a World Cup final, he should have shown greater responsibility. They lost three quick wickets and although Taylor and Elliot rebuilt their innings to an extent, Taylor was never in the sort of form that was required if New Zealand were to push on to get a meaningful score and after 150 for 3 in 35 overs, they crumbled following two big strikes by Faulkner. Call it lucky or inspired, whichever way you see it, Michael Clarke’s captaincy was outstanding. He brought on Maxwell, a very ordinary off spinner in the 12 th over and he castled Guptill of a straight and innocuous delivery; in the power play he brought on
Faulkner, not his top or second strike bowler, and he completely turned the match around. From 150 for 3 New Zealand slumped to 151 for 7 and the rest was a formality.
It was a disappointing final but it has to be said that the most deserving team won both the final and the competition.
As for the Asian subcontinent, it was disappointing that after 28 years, there was no Asian team in the final and only one in the semis. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will both have to go through a rebuilding process with so many of their senior players retiring or having to give way to younger talent and one can only hope that this younger talent will give a better account of themselves.