ICC World Cup Final-Australia v New Zealand: Bring on Lords!

There we were, 11.50AM at the MCG nets on World Cup Final day. Not a cloud in the sky. Not a breath of wind. People everywhere. MJ Clarke hitting everything in the middle in the nets. Roundly applauded by a couple of thousand fans watching as he departs the nets. I’m at this massive global event with SA Hill, a former Pomborneit CC teammate who I’d love to see return to the maroon and gold in 2015/16 after his sabbatical from the game.

Colac West CC export Aaron Finch is next in to have a hit. An early throw down hits him in the box. He misses many balls thrown at his pads and down leg-side. When he hits them the sound off the willow is nowhere near as crisp as the sound from his skipper’s blade. We hope he leaves his bad form in the nets.

The last two we stay and watch are Steve Smith and Kiwi Grant Elliot. Smith gets thrown several short balls. Which he smashes. We are intrigued while watching Elliot receive his throw downs. Does not move his feet. At all. They seem deliberately anchored. But still hits the ball crisply.

We move on to the Fox Sports live outside broadcast. Find a position at the front, just behind Kevin Pieterson’s left shoulder. KP is wearing Australian Gold socks. Hilly receives notification by text that we’ve been seen on TV. But we can barely hear the commentators chat. Time to enter the great stadium.

 

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sneaking on to TV on KP’s left shoulder!

 

 

Before we enter we meet Hilly’s cousin Alastair. Like us, very much a cricket tragic. Good bloke, shouts us a beer straight away. I get the second round. The MCG food & drink price cuts don’t kick in until April. So I pay the 2027 price in 2015. $21.30 for three mid-strength beers in plastic cups. Keeps our drinking to a minimum for the duration of the game.

McCullum calls correctly at the toss and the Blackcaps elect to bat first. I feel nervous for the first time for the day. Still pinching myself that I’m at a World Cup Final. And my country and team I follow passionately is playing. Yet I wouldn’t begrudge a Kiwi win. Always been my second team and love the way their current team go about their cricket.

The feeling in the stadium is electric as the teams line up for their anthems. God Defend New Zealand never sounded so good. I’ve always been an Advance Australia Fair man. It’s taught us all the word ‘girt’. Hearing half of a packed MCG sing along sent a chill up my spine.

Brendon McCullum charges down the pitch the first two balls of the game. And misses. Mitch Starc bowls the Kiwi captain with the third ball of the Final. Even as an Aussie fan I’d have liked to have seen McCullum tee off for a bit. With his dismissal a Kiwi win is immediately at longer odds.

Guptill and Williamson just start looking good when Williamson gives a soft caught and bowled to Mitch Johnson, then Guptill awfully tries to hit a straight ball from Maxwell square on the off side and gets bowled. New Zealand in all sorts of trouble at 3/39. The early bowling from Starc, Hazelwood and Johnson is exceptional. All bowling at just under 150kph. The height and bounce of Hazelwood, the swing and bounce of Starc, the aggression of Johnson. Has Australia’s pace stocks ever been better? Pat Cummins and James Pattinson are wonderful young quicks who could well have been frontline bowlers in this team had it not been for their injury problems in the past 2 years. The great Ryan Harris has been put on ice for the Ashes despite an ODI bowling average of 18. Then there’s Behrendorff and Coulter-Nile from Western Australia. And forgotten Tasmanian’s Hilfenhaus and Bird. As well as Test only quick Peter Siddle. An embarrassment of riches.

Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot combine for a 111 run 4th wicket partnership and the Kiwis are right back in it. But Taylor’s dismissal for 40, caught behind off Faulkner starts a collapse that sees them lose 7/33. Elliot hits the ball well late in his innings of 83 after earlier almost exclusively playing everything behind point with an angled bat. No wonder he’s only played 5 Tests with a batting average of 10.75. But he has at least given the Blackcaps some hope. I’m not really a fan of music blaring over the speakers at a sporting contest but at least they’ve chosen well. Every New Zealand batsman has had a Split Enz song accompanying them out to bat. ‘Dirty Creature’ echoing around the cavernous surrounds of the MCG just sounded right.

When Aaron Finch is dismissed for a duck with the score on 2, the roar from the Kiwis in the crowd is almost deafening. Much louder than anything they’d offered during their teams innings. Playing across the line early in his innings has cost Finchy yet again. David Warner, out of form for much of the World Cup, couldn’t have hit the ball better in his knock of 45. Except for his dismissal, caught at deep backward square-leg off a second consecutive short ball from Matt Henry, who bowls with a Shane Bond-like action at nearly the same pace.

In his last ODI, Australian captain Michael Clarke strides to the pitch to a thunderous applause. McCullum brings the field in and Clarke struggles to score. Smith keeps the score ticking over while his captain finds his feet. Then all of a sudden it clicks for the man from Liverpool in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, playing exquisite drives and lofting the ball straight down the ground. Vintage Clarke. He overtakes Smith and brings up a wonderful half century. The result is in no doubt now. Clarke’s dismissal for 74 off 72 balls comes as a shock, he never looked like getting out. Shane Watson joined Smith at the crease and it was the latter, fittingly after his superlative season, who scored the winning runs, giving Australia it’s 5th World Cup title. SA Hill and LJ Reynolds were not alone in jumping out of their seats and roaring with approval amongst a record crowd for a day of cricket in this country of 93,013.

We stay, like almost all of the the crowd, for the presentations. We cringe at Warnie, Mark Nicholas and co asking the Australian players about their drinking plans for the night ahead, but it’s surely not as bad as it’s been made out to be the next day in the media. You should know what you are getting with SK Warne. Extremely insightful commentator of on-field moves and tactics. A real lad when it comes to off field shenanigans. Problem easy fixed. Only get him on the mic when the game is on. Easy.

While the President of the ICC was booed during the presentation, the large Indian component of the crowd ensured a massive cheer for Sachin Tendulkar as the little master presented the man of the match. Better than the boos Shane Watson received when walking out to bat and when receiving his winners medal. Despite his faults it was very harsh when the team was about to win and then was rewarded for winning a World Cup.
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An amazing night at the cricket. Not the most amazing game but a complete, clinical performance by Australia. One-day cricket is alive and well as long as the matches are meaningful.

Bill and Rachael joined us for part of the trip home as we dropped them off at their house in Geelong. The discussion on that part of the trip varied from ‘did they get the man-of-the-match & man-of-the series right?’ (I’m in the Kumar Sangakkara corner for man-of-the-series) to local cricket and footy issues.

As Hilly dropped me off, we agreed we were lucky to have been at such a huge game, a World Cup final, and especially lucky to see Australia play in the game and then win. Maybe we’ll make it to Lords for the 2019 World Cup final!

 

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Peter Schumacher says

    A really good read. I loved the way that you got us into the atmosphere of the day, certainly made me wish that I was there. And I certainly would not have begrudged a Kiwi win either, they have made heaps of friends, no doubt about that.

    For me there was a bit of a sad post script though, Trevor Chappell (not the Trevor Chappell of underarm imfany but the ABC early morning variety host of a pretty good overnight program) asked listeners to cite what was for them the highlight of the World Cup. The first caller said in a very caustic way words to the effect, “that the Poms didn’t make the finals”

    I thought that given the real highlights that did unfold during the tournament, and there were many, this was a particularly mean spirited comment with which to commence this segment . I mean sure, England have always been the old enemy but surely once, just for once, we can be gracious in victory.

  2. Thanks again for another top cricket article Luke. Good to read an informed article which can not just pick up on the on field excitement but gives us a nuanced spectators perspective. Sad to hear of the booing of Watson, true he might never have reached the heights many of us hoped for, but as a member of a wining World Cup team that banal behaviur is unpleasant to hear about.

    Looking forward to reading your article on the ‘Anzac World Cup’ replay at Lords in 2019.

    Glen!

  3. Glen Potter says

    Good read, Luke.
    I’m with you on the booing of Watson. No doubt he’s on the nose with most of the public but the jeering was untimely. Better it was saved for the ICC chairman.
    Thumbs up on the music. I loathe it at the cricket. Absolutely detest it. I’d prefer to watch the match without any distraction. Same for the footy. However, Split Enz, Crowded House, Dragon et al. provided a soothing tonic to ease the viewing tensions, which funnily enough I found quite agreeable.
    The clinical nature of the Aussie win probably meant the sting was out of the game early, well certainly from where I sat at the Punt Road end. Probably at 2/100 I found the atmosphere at little dull. Which was a shame. I was kind of hoping for a wicket to fall, just to see what would happen. I went to the India v. South Africa game earlier in the tournament and the atmosphere at that match was exhilarating till the final ball, even when the game was done and dusted early. One wonders if the Indians had made the final what that atmosphere would’ve been like. Nevertheless, I was thankful to have been at one of eleven cricket World Cups ever and to see the Aussies win their fifth. Bring on London in 2019.

  4. Being a pedant i noticed that Aaron Finch has claimed an unwanted first for the host nation. In the seven finals Australia has appeared in, he is the first Australian to score a duck.

    Glen!

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Luke a enjoyable read , it was a clinical performance really from ball 1
    and then when the kiwis looked like they were in the game a huge collapse .
    If the bails had come off re Smith it could have been more interesting re a close finish
    . Spot on re Warne why he was doing the on ground after match was completely mystifying

  6. Best team won the tournament but Kiwis got a bit of stage fright. NZ handled the defeat with class despite some uncalled for send offs. Too many soft outs for the Kiwis.

  7. Great stuff, Luke.
    I was fortunate enough to watch the game from the Members, and a couple of bars, and had a great day.
    I am with you on the booing of Watson…he drives me nuts, he is kissed on the arse, but why on earth would you be so ungracious as to boo him? Can’t understand that.
    I am planning on being in UK in 2019 (for the Ashes) but reckon it will be nigh on impossible to get a World Cup Final ticket.

  8. E.regnans says

    L Reynolds,
    Thanks for sharing yet another story full of insight and fan feeling.
    Really positive stuff.
    Hats off to you for a top summer.

  9. well done again Luke perhaps you could get a job at colac herald

  10. Nice one Luke, except I’m a bit envious of you having not been able to snaffle a ticket.

    Poor Watto, he actually performed ok after being dropped.

  11. Loved the read Luke. Let’s make sure we get in a shield game next summer.

  12. Nice read, Luke. I can finally bring myself to read about it.

  13. DBalassone says

    Well done Luke. Wish I was there too, tried in vain to get a ticket at the last minute (although I was there in ’92 when Imran lifted the cup). I have fallen in love with this Aussie team – so much x-factor, so many match winners. The rebuilding of this ODI team over the past 2 or 3 years has been done incredibly well. No one could touch them at their peak. I have to confess I was little bemused how much NZ were talked up before hand. I really like a lot of their players, but let’s be honest they were given a very soft draw, and I’m not sure what you can make of those wins on miniature NZ grounds – it’s like playing cricket on a tennis court. So many mistimed shots racing to (or over) the boundary. Like you though, I probably was secretly wishing for a few sixes from McCullum just to set the ground alight for awhile – talk about kamikaze batting. Well done on getting your mug on tv, and as for your fellow Colac native, he can hold his head up high for contributing in the opening game and in the semi-final. He played his part.

  14. Mickey Randall says

    Luke- enjoyed your recount’s personal details and cricket analysis.

    Loved the mention of “girt.” After hearing our anthem I often promise myself that I’ll use it in a sentence later that day. Of course I haven’t. Nor has anyone I’ve heard.

    Well done. Gee, the Ashes will be a treat.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks everyone for the comments. It was a wonderful day, a privilege to be there.
    Bring on the footy, and The Ashes!

  16. Peter Fuller says

    Mickey,
    I’ll take your challenge – in a back-handed way. I have/had a much loved Auntie Gert,, so I have used the word, though with the amended spelling. She was never referred to as Gertrude other than in formal usage, official documents etc.

    Luke, This was a great read and you have brought the tournament, and especially the final, alive for a tepid cricket fan like me.

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