AUSTRALIA captain Michael Clarke dedicated his side’s World Cup success to his former team-mate Phillip Hughes.
Clarke led his side to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday, scoring 74 as he bowed out of one-day cricket in style.
The 33-year-old said the win was dedicated to Hughes, who died aged 25 in November after being struck on the head by a bouncer.
Speaking about the black armband he was wearing on his left arm, Clarke said: “As you can see, it’s got PH on it. I’ll wear it every game I play for Australia.
“I think for everybody in Australian cricket it’s been really tough few months.
“I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself, I’m sure everybody standing on this stage tonight will say that we’ve played this World Cup with 16 players and tonight is certainly dedicated to our little brother and our team-mate Phillip Hughes.
“Hughes used to party as good as any of them so I’ll make sure we drink two [beers] at a time tonight, one for Hughesy and one for us.”
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and chose to bat first but Mitchell Starc started like a train, with the former failing to get his bat on two deliveries before the bowler got a full one to swing and hit off stump, sending the skipper back for a duck in the first over.
Martin Guptill hit the first six of the final off Josh Hazlewood but was gone for 15 in the 12th over as he played and missed at a Glenn Maxwell delivery that did not turn a lot but clipped the top of off.
If Guptill’s dismissal had been poor from the batsman, Kane Willamson’s (12) in the next over was worse as he offered a prodding drive to a Johnson delivery and sent it straight back to the bowler to leave his team 39 for three.
Maxwell thought he had made it 66 for four with the final ball of the 19th over as he got an lbw decision against Elliott but the review showed the ball to be going down the leg side.
Elliott reached his half-century off 51 balls including three fours and one maximum in the 28th over as he and Ross Taylor continued to build on New Zealand’s score and they celebrated a 100-run partnership off 126 balls shortly after.
But, just as Taylor was setting in, it was powerplay time and the start of a New Zealand collapse. Faulkner claimed Taylor’s wicket for 40 from the first ball of the over following a review, with Brad Haddin claiming a diving one-handed catch behind to leave New Zealand 150 for four.
Australia struck again two balls later as Corey Anderson looked like he picked up the wrong line with shadows from the sun falling at his end as Faulkner’s delivery struck his pad and took out his off stump.
Luke Ronchi came to the crease but did no better, narrowly avoiding getting Elliott run out one ball before he lost his wicket to Starc, caught behind at slip by a well-taken catch from Clarke.
Another review was called but turned down after Elliott looked like he might have put his leg in front but he was deemed not out as the umpire’s decision stood.
But Australia struck again as Johnson returned and sent Daniel Vettori (nine) packing after his high-pace full inswinging yorker first hit the pad before rattling the stumps to leave the Black Caps struggling on 167 for seven.
Faulkner finally claimed the big wicket of Elliott (83) in the following over as the batsman mistimed the delivery and hit the outside edge behind for a Haddin catch, while Matt Henry became Johnson’s third victim before Tim Southee (11) was run out with five overs remaining to leave Australia with a winning target of 184.
The Black Caps struck early on as the hosts began their reply as Aaron Finch ballooned the ball into the air from Trent Boult’s inswinging delivery and the Kiwi took an easy catch in the second over to leave them one for two.
But fellow opener David Warner and Smith began to put some runs on the board for Australia and recorded a second-wicket partnership of 61 before the former lost his wicket in the 13th over.
Warner, who struck seven fours in a total of 45 from 46 balls, failed to control the pull on Henry’s delivery and sent the ball to deep square where Elliott took a great diving catch.
Clarke came to the crease to the applause of the MCG crowd in his final one-day international and began to mount a challenge alongside Smith as they reached the 100 mark off 125 balls.
The 33-year-old celebrated his half-century – including five fours and that six – off 56 balls much to the delight of the Melbourne crowd with the hosts 138 for two, just 46 short of victory. Four successive boundaries from Clarke off Southee at the start of the 31st over left Australia needing just 11 runs from 19 overs but he was bowled by Henry for 74 four balls later and left the field to a standing ovation.
Smith celebrated his half-century off 66 balls with four needed for the win and he hit the winning runs as Australia claimed their fifth World Cup final triumph – their first on home soil.
Afterwards, Clarke added: “We’re really proud, it’s a wonderful achievement. It’s a great thing just to make a World Cup final, but to be able to win in your own back yard in front of your family and friends is extremely special and I guarantee we’ll celebrate hard tonight.
“Obviously I’m over the moon. What a tournament.
“The New Zealand team deserve a lot of credit. They’re always a tough team to beat it seems in any sporting event. Australia v New Zealand is always an exciting contest and tonight was no different.”
Clarke, who announced his retirement from one-day cricket on Saturday, praised the fans and his team for getting them through to the final.
He added: “To the Australian fans, to all the fans of the game of cricket, it’s been an amazing turnout this tournament. To the support we’ve had over the tournament, thanks to every Australian and cricket supporter out there.
“Thanks, most importantly to that amazing team including support staff. I couldn’t have asked any more than for the support I’ve received since coming back into the team.”
MJ Guptill b Maxwell 15
BB McCullum b Starc 0
KS Williamson c & b Johnson 12
LRP Taylor c Haddin b Faulkner 40
GD Elliott c Haddin b Faulkner 83
CJ Anderson b Faulkner 0
L Ronchi c Clarke b Starc 0
DL Vettori b Johnson 9
TG Southee run out 11
MJ Henry c Starc b Johnson 0
TA Boult not out 0
Extras (lb7 w6) 13
Total (45 overs) 183
Fall: 1-1, 2-33, 3-39, 4-150, 5-150, 6-151, 7-167, 8-171, 9-182.
Bowling: Starc 8-0-20-2; Hazlewood 8-2-30-0; Johnson 9-0-30-3; Maxwell 7-0-37-1; Faulkner 9-1-36-3; Watson 4-0-23-0.
DA Warner c Elliott b Henry 45
AJ Finch c & b Boult 0
SPD Smith not out 56
MJ Clarke b Henry 74
SR Watson not out 2
Extras (lb3 w6) 9
Total 3 wickets (33.1 overs) 186
Fall: 1-2, 2-63, 3-175.
Bowling: Southee 8-0-65-0; Boult 10-0-40-1; Vettori 5-0-25-0; Henry 9.1-0-46-2; Anderson 1-0-7-0.
Australia won by 7 wickets
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS