Champions again

It was a beautiful Melbourne day yesterday for the final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. More than 93,000 turned up to a sun-washed MCG to watch the Aussies take on the Kiwis. I wasn’t there, as I was in 1992, but like millions of others around the world I was very keen to tune in and watch. It had a bit of a grand final vibe to it.

Not unusually I was all over the shop. Long story, but I ended up at a pub in Brighton to watch it by myself (I was at a pub Thursday night to watch the SF). I can’t wait to have my own lounge room again.

The match turned out not dissimilar to what I expected. As I predicted, Australia put in their most complete performance of the tournament. The fielding was just about flawless, the bowling absolutely commanding, and the batting routine chasing down a small target.

New Zealand batted first and the first over was a thing of beauty. It was the big match-up, the most acclaimed bowler of the tournament up against the most hyped. For New Zealand Brendan McCallum is their talismanic skipper and opening batsman. His aggression at the top of the order and in the field sets the tone, and was a big reason why the Kiwi’s made the final. Kiwi hopes rested in large part upon his shoulders.

Starc was bowling quick and straight. He beat McCallum twice, nearly bowling him with one delivery. When he bowled McCallum with the third delivery to him it was no surprise, but it was still a huge moment. People at the ground claim the roar when McCallum’s stumps were shattered is as loud as they’ve heard at the MCG. Watching from where I was at the Newbay hotel it was an electric moment.

Right there Australia went a long way towards securing the trophy.

From there Australia did their usual thing, strangling the life out of the opposition in between striking quickly and violently. New Zealand ambled along for a while before losing another couple of wickets, recovered for a bit, though slowly, before losing another bunch of wickets in a hurry. In the end they made a very sub-standard 183. For much of the innings it felt like men against boys.

Australia were dominant, the bowling accurate, fast and often intimidating. The fielding was top-notch, as usual, piling on the pressure. When it was our turn to bat the runs were knocked over without too much fuss or bother, and with 17 overs to spare.

I suppose if you’re not Australian it’s all a bit boring, if not disappointing. If you’re not an Aussie then odds are that you want anyone to win but Oz. That was our fifth win last night. Four of those wins have been shut-outs, with Australia winning with complete ease. Only one, the first of them in 1987, was in any way exciting (the loss in 1975 was dramatic too).

Yesterday we beat a nation smaller than us. At one point I tweeted how it felt a bit embarrassing, as if I was supporting the big kid beating up on the little kid. Reality is though that in terms of population we’re one of the smaller countries competing. We cast a long shadow, but outside of New Zealand the countries we’ve beaten in the final have a lot bigger population than we do  – England, Pakistan, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka. We’re just better at cricket, or more committed towards it, or both. We’re the small(ish) country punching well above our weight.

Other countries might get weary of us winning, but considering our population is about 70 times less than India the fault is not ours. We’re the little guy made good.

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