Congratulations to the Australian cricket team. It has won the Cricket World Cup again and firmly established itself as the leading one day side. It was a fantastic victory over New Zealand in the final, proving beyond doubt, that Australia is an audacious and brilliant outfit. Australia only lost one match in the arduous and over long six week tournament, away to New Zealand a while ago. Sunday’s revenge was therefore doubly sweet as they swatted aside the Kiwi challenge with plenty to spare.
The best four teams made the semi finals, the best two the final, and Australia, the very best of all won the trophy. I am sure that many non-Australian spectators watching the final would have been siding with NZ and hoping for the Black Caps to overcome Australia at the MCG cauldron. As an Englishman and a fully paid up member of ABBA (AnyBody But Australia) I was certainly hoping that New Zealand would prevail, just as I had hoped that India would in the semi final. But my hopes were easily dashed on both occasions and even my one-eyed view of the games could not disguise the fact that Australia was just too good for one and all. Throughout the interminable tournament Australia batted well, bowled very well and were magnificent in the field; no better example of this being the fantastic pivot and throw by Glenn Maxwell to run out the last New Zealander. In every department Australia was the best team and proved it.
So why am I so reticent to show much enjoyment in this CWC which the organisers tell us was the most successful to date. One reason I am sorry to say is that no matter how good the Australian one day cricket team is, I find it impossible to like its players. This team is ugly. They play ugly and they act ugly and for me cricket has always been the most beautiful of games. I am even more worried too that, without the retiring captain, Michael Clarke, they will become even uglier. The batsmen, with the exception of the outgoing Clarke, and to a lesser extent his probable replacement, Steve Smith, simply bludgeon the ball. They smash it with the finesse of an old-school bouncer at a night club – not caring how the object of their attention is dealt with as long as it is hit for six. Clarke is making the right decision to leave at the top of his game – a game which he proved in the final is still mightily effective but which seems almost an anachronism to the way cricket is now played. Australia in the end did not require its bludgeoners in the final as its bowlers had already blasted out the New Zealand team. Whilst admiring how well the Aussies bowled and fielded I could not help but feel how ghastly was the way they went about their business. The sledging was non-stop and every departing NZ batsman appeared to receive a verbal send off every bit as savage as the balls received from the accurate Australian quick bowlers. Australia proved that even in a sport with the favour heavily weighted towards the batsmen and their giant railway sleeper bats, that it is fast bowlers who once again win matches. Australia had the best fast bowling battery and no team was really able to cope with the continual probing of the three left arm seamers. There was simply no let up or place to hide.
But there was no dignity in the way Australia played despite proving itself the best exponents of the ‘art’ of cricket. Upon winning the tournament the congratulations were onanistic and self congratulatory. Surely the first to be acknowledged should be the vanquished and a thank you to the umpires up front would not be a bad idea either. It would seem though that this Australian side forgot this in its enthusiasm to leap all over each other and glory in self-adulation. The Australian cricket side is a very poor loser but an even poorer winner. The one good thing coming from this victory for the non-partisan being that the Australians were smiling and we were spared the sulking and moaning of Watson, Warner et al. They are good players certainly, but their self confidence is overbearing and lacks humility, despite the sound bites proffered in post match statements and interviews.
I love cricket but for me this World Cup largely became irrelevant and I was not compelled to watch. The games that I did tune in to I quickly tuned out of most. I was though engrossed when NZ played Australia in the pool match and in the semi final between NZ and South Africa when true drama was seen on the field of play. Others may say how exciting was the match between Scotland and Afghanistan, but really who would have been bothering to watch in order to find this out?
This CWC as a whole was an anticlimax and the final as is so often the case with much hyped sporting contests an anticlimax too. There were some wonderful moments, especially when the Pakistani quick bowler Wahab Riaz got stuck into Shane Watson in no uncertain fashion. However the way the game is going these days the great moments will be less and less in the future now that Clarke, Daniel Vettori and the two wonderful Sri Lankans, Jayawardena and Sangakarra, have called it a day, and cricket is sacrificed on the altar of power and muscle and an orgy of mis-hit sixes.
Before anybody complains of me having a serious case of English sour grapes, let me just say that England were the most disorganised and badly managed group of cricketers that I have ever seen and that they deserved their comeuppance at the hands of a superior Bangladesh side. Australia may be ugly but boy can they play. The England team on the other hand, under present management is just woeful! Bring back K.P! Rather than sacking him because he does not get on with the rest of the England set up, sack them and find ten other players and a coach who get on with the flawed genius.
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James Nicholls is Head Lecturer at the Wentworth Institute, Sydney, teaching the Bachelor of Interactive Media course. You can follow his work on www.marinamarini. com.au
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