Australia were worthy winners of what I felt after only a couple of weeks was the best ICC Cricket World Cup we’ve ever seen. From there it only got better and better and it was just what the game needed. There has been talk of reducing the game to two formats but the one-day game is alive and kicking now.
If people are totally honest, they were probably getting a little bit tired of the one-day game but now it looks such an exciting brand of cricket that everyone wants to be a part of it. Australia really did turn up for the final and I don’t think New Zealand will have any regrets. The champions had that one hiccup against New Zealand in the group phase at Eden Park but apart from that they were very consistent with a very powerful, modern approach to the one-day game.
When they’re on form like that they’re extremely hard to beat. Mitchell Starc has proved to be a huge player for them along with Mitchell Johnson. The three left-arm bowlers is something that’s been hard to combat.
If New Zealand had won the final, Brendon McCullum was probably the man of the tournament for the boldness of his leadership and almost taking them to the World Cup with the way he was going about it. I believe the best bowling sides win World Cups and you look at that Australian line-up and there is plenty of pace and match-winners there. Starc was the pick of the bowlers, the guy that no batsman wanted to face.
The ball is coming from a serious height at 90 plus miles an hour, swinging late, it’s hard to combat. As a batsman, when you know he can hit you in the head at any time but he’s also going for your toes, those kinds of bowlers are difficult to line up which is why he took so many wickets. It was an amazing tournament to watch.
It’s reinvented the game of one-day cricket and reignited the passion for the game, which I think was needed. A lot of credit goes to the ICC because the rule changes have brought about a game that is better to watch. You’re always going to get bowlers that will be upset but we’re seeing some amazing matches and the game has gone to a new level.
There are a handful of players out there that have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. It’s taken everyone by surprise how quickly the game has changed. Since the invention of T20 cricket the game has had real steady progress over the last 10 years. But it just seems to be this past six months that people like AB De Villiers and Glenn Maxwell have just got a new injection of confidence with the bat, the confidence they have going out to the middle, it’s as if there’s no consequences on the wicket and they’re playing in their backyard and having fun.
Pretty much every time AB got the bat in hand and went out there it was breath-taking. When you play the game and you understand the pace the bowlers are bowling at, added to their skill level, these batsmen are just making a mockery of it. Watching at home you might think it’s not good bowling but there’s genuine pace out there and some of the batsmen are making the bowlers look like they’re bowling at a spinner’s pace.
The innings Maxwell played against Sri Lanka, he was just standing and hitting the ball pretty much 360 degrees. A lot of these players are doing it when they’ve got a platform but bowlers know McCullum is coming at them from ‘Ball one’. That’s the approach he wanted his team to have and the role he has in the side and you can just sense the belief that he has.
He can put a huge dent in a run chase in the first five overs of these new balls. The only thing that bowlers can do at the moment is whinge about the rule change. Now it’s up to them to adapt and combat it.
You can talk about all the runs scored and the 400 but the game at Eden Park in the group stages, Australia and New Zealand had a memorable first match with the latter chasing down 152. It’s almost when the bowlers are on top and the ball’s swinging, it’s more of a Test match, much more attacking. That was a great game.
New Zealand’s win over South Africa in the semi-final was also a fantastic, dramatic game. Some of the catches show how much the skill levels have moved on. One off the top of my head was Jerome Taylor on the boundary against South Africa, plucking it out of the air like it was picking an apple off a tree while running at full tilt with the foam boundary a couple of inches from his foot. Incredible.
People are making these things look simple now and I can assure you they’re not easy. There has been ridiculous stuff all the way through the tournament. There’s been a wow factor and it’s been amazing to watch.
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