MELBOURNE: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had asked his compatriots to ‘dare to dream’ before the cricket World Cup but the day after a crushing loss in the final to Australia the country does not appear to have suffered from a nightmare.
The rugby-mad nation has previously reacted poorly to losses by the All Blacks in World Cup tournaments, yet Sunday’s seven-wicket loss to Australia in the cricket final provoked no such response.
On Monday, the two largest newspaper chains appeared to reflect the general mood of the nation, disappointment but the realisation McCullum’s side had been beaten by a better team on the day.
“New Zealand were not undone by the boundary sizes or their first trip across the Tasman, they were simply and plainly outplayed by an Australian side operating at a level above all their rivals for most of this magical tournament,” Dominion Post sports editor Jonathan Millmow wrote on Monday.
“There will be post mortems, but they should be short and respectful of a side and a campaign that has been pretty much inch perfect until the entire cricket world’s eyes set upon them.”
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who attended the final on Sunday, told TVNZ he felt the country should be immensely proud of the efforts of the team.
Key added he had spent some time in their dressing room following the defeat.
“They were a little sad obviously right after the match, who wouldn’t be, but they threw their heart and soul at it,” Key said.
“It was nice to go and personally say I was proud of what they’d achieved on behalf of New Zealand. They captivated the country, which was great.”
Focus instead now turned to the future of the team, with left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori expected to retire from international cricket, while swing bowler Kyle Mills is also expected to step back.
Fairfax Media also suggested McCullum may retire from the shorter forms of the game to concentrate on test cricket, though the captain said any career announcements would be made after Australia had their opportunity to celebrate.
“New Zealand were taught a lesson by Australia, but don’t forget the six weeks before this … That was all real,” New Zealand Herald cricket writer Dylan Cleaver wrote in summarising the team’s World Cup.
“This campaign was no mirage. Keep believing.” (Reuters)