‘It was Great To Go Out On A High’

After leading Australia to its fifth ICC Cricket World Cup title on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against New Zealand, captain Michael Clarke was a happy man.  Clarke has benefitted in all formats with the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle and during the most recent world showpiece Mitchell Starc.  Clarke says:  ‘Yeah, there’s no doubt that I think Starcky deserves the Man of the Series award.  I think he’s been exceptional.  I think our whole attack has, to be honest.  I think that’s no coincidence why we sit here World Cup winners tonight.  I think our bowlers have won us the World Cup.  I think our batters have stood up and grabbed their opportunities, but I think our bowling performances in every single game has been exceptional, probably none better than today.’

The Australian skipper is retiring from One Day International and says he could not have chosen a better moment to leave the limited overs format:  ‘I said yesterday that I thought it was the right time.  Now I know it’s the right time.  I think obviously there’s no such thing as fairy-tales in sport, but that’s probably as close as it gets for me.  Not only to win a World Cup but to win in front of your home fans, and there was a lot of expectation, there was a lot of added pressure, the fact that we’re playing in Australia in front of our home fans, and I think the boys soaked that up from day one and loved every minute of it.  I said after our semi-final that mentally we were ready for this final.  I think we showed that today.  The whole squad deserves a lot of credit.  Every single player has played a big part in us having success, and we’ve worked really hard.  I think even today, once we bowled New Zealand out, six or seven of the guys went to the nets for a hit in the lead-up to our batting innings just to make sure they were as well prepared as they could be and be ready to chase those 180 runs.  It shows the discipline and the dedication to wanting the help the team have success.  Yeah, I’m extremely proud, and really happy with how the day panned out.  I think New Zealand deserve a lot of credit for the way they played throughout this tournament.  We have the utmost respect for that team, and I guess my relationship with Brendon is very close, and I wish them all the best for the future.  But it was a great final.  I think the two best teams in the World Cup were in the final, and just happened to be our day today.’

Clarke said leaving the MCG for the last time in coloured clothing is a moment he will never forget:  ‘Yeah, it’s been really special to be honest.  Like I said, even announcing my retirement from One Day cricket yesterday, I really didn’t want to take anything away from the team.  Yeah, so even tonight, it’s still — you know, that was very special for me personally, but again, I really wanted to run off the field so I didn’t take that … I wanted that applause for the team.  But we got that.  I think the way the crowd hung around for us to raise that trophy, the World Cup trophy, I think was very special for all the players.  Yeah, it’s been, like I say, 245 games for my country, I’ve been absolutely blessed.  I couldn’t ask to have been a part of any better team, whether when I started my career, when I won the World Cup in 2007 or when we won tonight, I’ve played with some unbelievable players, and this team is no different.  This team is full of amazing talent.  I think at the end of a lot of their careers they’ll be great to the game.  I certainly can’t ask for anything more.’

Of the seemingly continued Australian dominance in world cricket, Clarke says:  ‘I think the Australian way has always been about the big games.  I think it’s probably something I learned at a young age, that the big players always stood up in major tournaments.  You know, they weren’t scared of losing.  They always wanted to bowl or wanted to bat in that big tournament, and I guess I was probably lucky enough to grow up in a team that had six, seven, eight of those players that wanted the ball, that wanted the bat on that stage.  That’s probably something that I hope I’ve been able to do through my career when the team has needed me, stand up and perform, and I think there’s a lot of players in this current change room that now love that, as well, and I think we showed that today on the biggest stage.  With as much expectation and pressure as you have on you in your career playing a World Cup final in front of your home fans, every single player wanted to bowl or wanted to bat or wanted to take that catch.  It’s a special feeling.  I think I’ve been really fortunate as captain to be able to turn to so many of the players under pressure and they want that opportunity.’