As Steven Smith pulled the winning boundary to crush a New Zealand fairytale and clinch a fifth World Cup for Australia on Sunday, Michael Clarke’s side celebrated a glorious end to a journey marked by a period of self-doubt and grief for a fallen team mate.
Two years after a horrible 2013, and less than three months after the death of batsman Phillip Hughes, Australia resumed their dominion of world cricket with a ruthless seven-wicket victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Kangaroos have won four of the last five World Cups, an astonishing record of dominance unlikely to ever be repeated. Roared on by canary-yellow fans in the terraces, Mitchell Starc bowled New Zealand’s totemic captain Brendon McCullum for a third-ball duck, setting the tone for a banner day for the hosts’ pacemen, who skittled the visitors for 183.
Clarke made the most of his swansong, plundering a team-high score of 74 as Australia emphatically wiped away the stain of 1992 when they were knocked out early in their first World Cup on home soil. Clarke, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson enjoyed their second such triumph, having toasted success in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean. Though boasting an embarrassment of riches in both bowling and batting, and a formidable blend of youth and experience, Australia were just one of a pack of contenders at this tournament, unlike the great sides who swept to three consecutive World Cups from 1999 to 2007.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2015.
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