Australia v New Zealand, World Cup 2015, final, Melbourne March 29, 2015

Australia in a final: Men at work, business as usual

Something about a World Cup final brings out the A-game gene in the Australian team's DNA and their ruthless sense of purpose overrides conditions, weather, wickets and opposition
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New Zealand had a strong bowling attack, a quality spinner and a clutch of watchable batsmen. So what, said Australia. © Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

There is an aphorism in football that holds true across regions, decades, events, big-game nights: 22 men go out to play and the Germans win. Here's the cricket version: 22 men go to out to play a World Cup final and the Australians win.

On a resplendent night in the biggest ground in world cricket, 93,013 people and a flock of curious seagulls, under a black-inked sky, watched Australia win their Penta, their fifth World Cup. They have made seven finals in 11 World Cups. Never mind football, which has had a far longer World Cup history, not even field hockey - whose World Cup started in 1971 - has one country that has been a part of their event's grandest night so often across three decades.

The 2015 World Cup final game ended at 9:02pm, more than an hour before the scheduled close, New Zealand done and dusted in 33.1 overs on the back of a total that would have been hard to defend in Twenty20. Indian fans had a sentimental laugh over 183 but that was about it. Yes, New Zealand's bowling had been formidable and yes, a month ago, they had got Australia out at Eden Park for way less.

Australia at a World Cup final, however, are completely different beasts. Once they get there - and this is a post-1999 brand of Australian ODI cricketer - some A-game gene springs to life in their DNA. In their last four World Cup finals - 1999, 2003, 2007 and now this - Australia enter the game and shut the door on their opposition. No matter how they get to the big game - whether by the skin of their teeth or knocking the rivals out - on finals day, they reach into their kit bags and pull on their you-can't-mess-with-us game face. It overrides conditions, weather, wickets, opposition: they have won World Cups in Asia, England, South Africa and the West Indies. And now at home.

Tonight, New Zealand were the misty-eyed favourites for this final - an amenable, much-liked team whose cricket contained steel, discipline, daring without any ugly edges. They had a bowling attack of venom and discipline, a quality spinner and a clutch of watchable batsmen. So what, said Australia. Ours have venom, discipline and pace and our spinner takes wickets, we bat down to eight and our No. 9 is not half-bad. Think you can do an Eden Park again? Think you can handle us in a World Cup final? At our home? Dream on.

The last final was also won by the home team but in very different circumstances; Wankhede 2011 was a wall of sound, building, building and then erupting in a paroxysm of what could only be called overjoy. There was more than one lap of honour, including one featuring Tendulkar on his team-mates' shoulders, as fireworks went off for what seemed like forever. The incessant racket of cars tooting horns on the road around the Wankhede Stadium could be heard inside the stadium. The police tried, unsuccessfully, to chase spectators who were climbing over the barricades and into the ground, running wildly around the field, only to climb over the barricades onto the other side and escape. Others were happy to leap over barriers and dive onto the field in ecstasy like celebrating footballers. It was chaotic, rambunctious, disorderly. Like the Indian campaign had been.

MCG 2015 had twice the number of people and an ebb and flow of volume and emotion. As Steven Smith and Shane Watson wolfed down the remaining runs required, rock music began to play over the speaker system and the crowd began singing the chorus of Jimmy Barnes' Working Class Man at top volume. The totally admirable Smith pirouetted about with joy, after producing a pull that would have made VVS Laxman proud, and leapt into Watson's arms to a waving, clapping mass of Australian supporters. The sight screen threw out regular flames, the players were drowned in a profusion of golden glitter (had New Zealand won, would the glitter have been black? Or beige?). The crowd listened to the speeches and the ceremonies in respectful silence, cheering at appropriate moments, close to 70,000 waiting to partake in the lap of honour.

When it was over, the crowd went home walking towards the car parks or the tram and train stops, happy, chatty, satisfied. Within an hour of the celebrations ending, the drop-in pitch was being rolled up and readied to be taken away. Footy season is due to begin in four days. The ground was being put back to what it was - minus the pitch of course - before the first ball was bowled. Like Australia at a World Cup final. Who arrived with a sense of purpose and mission, cleaned up the opposition and performed like they always knew what they were meant to be: world champions.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Valavan on April 2, 2015, 7:04 GMT

    @SAURABHSANDHU, good analysis what does the test series series results connected with ODI tournaments, Didn't India loose test series in England but managed to win ODI series, this WC is about ODIs and NOT about Tests, Aussies won ODI series recently vs PAK. did you forget. AS Ugra said, Australia brings their A game when it matters. Aussie winning CWC is routinal now. If any other team wins its excitement, thats how OZ set their standards, As Ian Chappel said other teams should work out Aussies and dont want for mistakes from Aussies. cricinfo please publish....

  • Winsome on April 2, 2015, 6:17 GMT

    SaraJahanSeAchha, you are aware that SA had been beaten by Aus in a one day tournament only a few months previously? It's not like SA had shown no weaknesses in the World Cup even before the semi. ABDV might have believed they were invincible but everyone else could tell that they were not.

  • Slevin7 on March 31, 2015, 9:07 GMT

    @JOIE69 Spot on. Very good skills. Pity about the behavior. Would you encourage your child to give opposition batsman a shouting send off in a school match? Suppose there are huge class differences in the cricketing world.

  • FTBRocks on March 30, 2015, 19:37 GMT

    my point is people say oz lost 1match away in nz..but I would say the way they got nz 9down in chase of mere 151 was itself giving dangerous signal to all other teams in KOs also in batsman favouring rule and pitches their bowling did not allow any team to cross 235..so nz game was actually showing oz strength in bowling in this batsman friendly tournament..

  • SaraJahanSeAchha on March 30, 2015, 18:52 GMT

    @PERL57. Spot on, could not agree more. The finals supposed to be nail biting was more of a dud. NZ vs SA was really like the final, and have to say NZ got lucky, thanks to the rain. AUS vs. SA would have been a far closer contest and SA would have given Aus a real run for their money, and probably even won. Aus no doubt have a great team at the moment and are stronger than other teams both physically and mentally, the latter one being the main factor for their dominance. In NZ frankly all grounds were ridiculous small, secondly they played all their games in smaller, familiar conditions. Both in 2011 and 2015, the ICC should have balanced where the hosts play. Why should NZ have no travel, while other teams coped with travel and jet lag..

  • TheDon100 on March 30, 2015, 14:47 GMT

    The Australians are world champions for the fifth time, I am so proud of my country and said all along as long as we have a fit Faulkner playing, we would win this CWC. This team going forward, will become one of the legends, again, with all the talented younsters we are spoilt for choice. So happy, so lucky, so grateful.... STRAYA!

  • siddhartha87 on March 30, 2015, 13:26 GMT

    @rajesh: Aussie exposed in eden park? Dude they made 151 look like 351 . Many says Wahab bowled spell of the tournament. But I say that spell by Starc was the best by miles in terms of quality. True they lost that match , but it made them only stronger. With no dis respect India and New Zeland surrendered as soon things went slightly out of hands. Anyway congratz AUssie for 5th CWC in 5th continent

  • dummy4fb on March 30, 2015, 13:20 GMT

    this current aus team is good but not gr8 as was steve waugh r ponting's teams who dominated over a decade annihilated every opposition.. won 3 wc in different countries...this team lost to india 4-0 pak 2-0..lost badly in CT..they will struggle once they come out of home conditions..l..... so that makes competition rather interesting....

  • dummy4fb on March 30, 2015, 8:11 GMT

    @PERL57: India and NZ are super-amazing teams? And why would you say that? Coz they won all their group games, you call them "super amazing"?? India won important tosses against SA and Pak, and hence got to bat. If SA and Pak had batted 1st, then you cant be sure if India would have won those two games. All other games for India were pretty much against minnow teams. NZ played all their games in their teeny-tiny football stadia cricket grounds, where they know how to play under "home conditions". If the Aus v NZ group game happened in SCG, it might be a different result. So, don't talk like India and NZ were playing great games. They played good games, thats all.

  • Rajesh_india_1990 on March 30, 2015, 7:08 GMT

    Home track wonders these Australian players are!!!Only one match they played outside Australia against Newzealand in Newzealand and they were exposed badly by the kiwis.. Home track kings enjoy your moment

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