Tomorrow sees the final act of what has been a game-changing World Cup. It is a clash between two great Trans-Tasman rivals. Two countries whose histories, heritage and culture are intrinsically linked, will take to the field at the MCG to battle for the honour of being crowned the best ODI side in the world.
While both sides have played aggressive no-fear cricket, the teams have differing approaches.
Australia look towards Finch and Warner to give them a brisk start before the calculated middle order of Smith, Watson and Clarke get into their business. They’re also blessed with two exceptional finishers in Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner, and a battery of quick bowlers. The Aussies play entertaining cricket, no doubt about it, but there is an undercurrent of calculated steel lying beneath.
The Kiwi’s on the other hand, play with what appears to be a childlike enthusiasm for the game. Led by their talismanic skipper Brendon McCullum, New Zealand attack every game with an unbridled joy and desire to win; and win spectacularly. McCullum is joined at the top of the order by double centurion Martin Guptill, and with Taylor, Williamson and the ice cool Grant Elliott in the middle order, the Kiwi’s will be confident of racking up a large total. The seam bowling pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee have the ability to run through any line up, even one as vaunted as Australia’s.
The match seems to be very evenly poised. Australia have arguably been the weaker of the two sides in the tournament thus far, but they will have home advantage and a formidable record to fall back on. New Zealand will enter the match in the form of their lives, and will carry a sizeable support from across the sea.
It looks as though the entire non-Australian world wants New Zealand to take the trophy on Sunday. Australia have had their fun, four world cups, three in the last four tournaments, a period of 8 year dominance. The Kiwi’s on the other hand, are playing in their first final at the seventh time of asking, and have the goodwill of the cricketing world with them.
So it’s time to set the early morning alarm one last time and revel in the final act of this mesmerising World Cup. I’ll be supporting New Zealand, but as long as it’s a competitive match and it’s not all over after 60 overs I’ll be reasonably happy.