Australia stepped on the park in Melbourne Cricket Ground as a team determined to win it for the nation, for each of themselves, for their retiring captain Michael Clarke and most importantly for the 16th member of their team, Phil Hughes, who was for sure cheering for them from the heavens.
And finally at the end of the day, they fulfilled the wish of a nation that has always been with them no matter what, whether they had been going through a lean patch, or they had been busy conquering the world. They were authoritative but not arrogant. Confident but not haughty. And their discipline and determination paid off, as a hapless New Zealand fell apart in what was one of the most one sided finals of all times.
With the conclusion of any World Cup, there are many questions asked about the performances of all the participating teams. And this World Cup was no different. So what have we learnt about the current state of cricket from this World Cup?
The tournament was surely a grand success. There were heart breaks, exhilarating moments, instances of blinding brilliance, and some immature misunderstandings. No matter what, the fans were always behind their teams, cheering them on, day in day out. Most of the games were one sided, but a few went down the wire, with heart in the mouth endings.
Was the tournament dominated by Batsmen?
Yes, there were a lot of 300+ games, the most in any World Cup so far, with batsmen like Kumar Sangakara, Martin Guptill, and AB de Villiers scoring at free will, and making a mockery of the best bowling attacks in the world. But a certain Mitchell Starc certainly proved that cricket is not only a batsman’s game. The tall prodigious left arm fast bowler from Australia combined pace with swing to make for a potent combination that went through the defences of most batsmen. Starc ended the World Cup with 22 wickets at an average of 10.18 and an economy rate of 3.50, and it was one of the best performances by any bowler in World Cups.
How was the performance of the Associate Nations?
The Associate nations had a pretty decent and thrilling tournament, and in quite a few games they gave the big boys a run for their money. Afghanistan and Scotland were the Associate nations in Pool A, and UAE and Ireland were the Associate nations in Pool B. The teams played with a lot of heart and courage, and the main reasons for their failure was inexperience. Nervousness played a main part too, as playing at such a grand stage can give jitters to anyone. Teams like Zimbabwe and Ireland played like pros. Brendan Taylor, the captain of Zimbabwe, was the fourth highest run scorer of the tournament. UAE and Afghanistan got an immense amount of experience playing against teams like India and Australia, and that would surely help them in the future. Overall, the Associate teams made the World Cup even more exciting.
Did South Africa choke again?
Absolutely not. South Africa played like champions. They played with a lot of spirit and had their ambitions set for the Grand Daddy of them all. In their thrilling semi-final against New Zealand, they gave whatever they had more in the match, despite all the costly mistakes committed by them. They took the match to the last ball, and lost to the eventual runners up. There is no shame in losing a match which was topsy turvy till the end, and they performed like a dominating and determined team all throughout the World Cup, and they did not choke at any point of time.
Was the winning team deserving?
Yes, Australia, the World Champions, were deserving. They played with a lot of heart and the journey was a bit emotional for them, and they finally won the Cup for their brother, Phil Hughes. They dominated, outclassed, and mowed down any team that came in their way, though New Zealand did give them some nervous moments.
With all the excitement caused by the World Cup, the amazing performances of players and teams, and the support shown by the fans, one thing is for sure. No matter how popular Twenty20 Cricket becomes, 50 over One Day Internationals are here to stay, for a long time to come.