New Zealand overwhelmed as Australia crowned worthy winners
Kiwi captain fails to score as Australia's bowlers show no mercy in a one-sided Cricket World Cup final
Australia cruised to their fifth World Cup title by crushing New Zealand in a one-sided final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A record crowd of 93,000 had arrived hoping for a gripping contest but instead the inexperienced Kiwis – playing in their first World Cup final – were overwhelmed by the occasion, and the Australian bowling attack.
The writing was on the wall for New Zealand as early as the first over when captain Brendon McCullum was dismissed without scoring by the fifth ball. That was bowled by Mitchell Starc (later named Player of the Tournament) and the outstanding paceman finished with figures of two wickets for 20 runs in eight overs.
Grant Elliott, one of New Zealand's heroes in their thrilling semi-final win over South Africa, was the one Kiwi who resisted the onslaught, hitting 83 in 82 balls, but his teammates were unable to offer any worthwhile support with Ross Taylor's 40 the only other significant contribution.
Taylor and Elliott were both dismissed by James Faulkner, and his figures of 3 for 36 in nine overs earned him the Man of the Match award.
"It's an amazing feeling being in front of 90,000 fans at the MCG and winning a World Cup," declared Faulkner. "It's been an amazing couple of years and we brought our 'A' game today."
In reply to New Zealand's feeble total of 183, Australia started shakily, losing Aaron Finch to Trent Boult when the score was just two. But that was a rare success for the Kiwis as David Warner and Steve Smith proceeded to go after their attack, compiling a 50-partnership before Warner fell to Matt Henry when he'd made 45. In came captain Michael Clarke and together with Smith the pair added 112 for the next wicket before Clarke was dismissed by Henry for 74.
By then, however, the game was up and Shane Watson barely had time to take guard before Smith hit the winning runs to send the crowd wild. "I'm over the moon!" exclaimed Clarke, who confirmed that he is stepping down from One Day International Cricket. "We played really well tonight. The guys were ready. It's been an honour and a privilege to represent my country in both Test and ODI cricket. The time is right for me to step down from ODI cricket."
His New Zealand counterpart was gracious in defeat. Brendon McCullum told reporters: "It's been one hell of a ride for us. We played some outstanding cricket, but we ran into an outstanding Australia team tonight who continue to set the way in world cricket. Michael Clarke deserves to bow out as world champion."
And Clarke made a special point of discussing his black armband with the initials PH on it, a reference to Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, who died as a result of being hit by a bouncer while batting in November last year.
"I will wear it every game I play for Australia," said Clarke. "It's been a really tough few months – I'm sure everybody standing on this stage will say we played this World Cup with 16 players. This victory is dedicated to our little brother Phillip Hughes. Hughesy used to party as good as any of them so I guarantee we'll celebrate hard tonight."