Australia Are World Champions

Australia have won the 2015 Cricket World Cup after defeating New Zealand by 7 wickets and 101 balls at the MCG before a record crowd of 93,017 fans on Sunday.

Captain Michael Clarke led his side home with a determined 74 from 72 balls batting with his likely successor Steve Smith who hit his 5th half century in a row, including the winning runs.

The Aussie bowlers took the match away from the Kiwis with an impressive 7/33 that saw the total restricted to 183. ‘Man of the Match’ James Faulkner (3/36) combined with ‘Man of the Tournament’ Mitchell Starc (2/20) to restrict the unbeaten Kiwis to figure that proved easy to catch.

Starc finished with 22 wickets in 8 matches with a strike rate of 10.18 and an economy rate of 3.51. His best figures were the 6-28 he picked up against New Zealand at Eden Park in the pool match.

Aaron Finch fell early (0) after hitting onto his pads and skying a Trent Boult delivery, making it easy for the bowler to collect a cheeky caught and bowled. David Warner was joined by Steve Smith and the two set about settling the attack against some decent pace bowling.

Warner fell to a leg-side trap on 45 (46) after smashing a pull shot square of the wicket. A fielder was moved just inside the boundary in response, only for Warner to mistime the very next shot straight to Elliot off the bowling of Matt Henry.

A brilliant 112-run partnership was formed between Michael Clarke and Steve Smith. Clarke looked edgy early and was peppered by short deliveries and a close, attacking field set by McCullum.

It wasn’t until he hit consecutive boundaries in the 19th over off Matt Henry that his innings seemed to click into gear. Before the boundaries, Clarke was on 9 from 23 and was stabbing at the ball, visibly annoyed at his poor of timing.

Showing true grit and ultimate class, the retiring captain pushed through and recorded a match winning 74 (72) which included some glorious drives, lofted boundaries and a six. It was his 58th career half-century from 245 ODI’s. 

Australia have won 14 of their last 15 knockout matches against New Zealand and the match was destined to be 16. The Kiwis inability to control the short ball early against Clarke was punished. A good plan, that was perhaps hard to deliver due to the pressure of a small total to defend.

Although Clarke dragged a Henry ball onto his leg stump, the ovation he enjoyed individually was fitting as he walked off the ground. He waved his bat, looked skyward to recognise a mate and embraced his teammates as the final few runs were gathered. 

Steve Smith fittingly hit the winning runs, part of his 7th career half-century 56 (71) following on from his century in the semi-final against India.

“What an occasion,” exclaimed Smith after the match.

“A fitting send off for Pup [Clarke].”

Darren Lehman was ecstatic after the match and when asked if the celebrations will go for a week, the coach replied:

“…more than that I would think!” Summing up the real satisfaction in achieving a long-term goal that has come with some obstacles. 

“We delivered on the world stage,” commented Brad Haddin, who was personally excellent behind the stumps and when called on with the bat. 

Brendan McCullum spoke humbly of his side’s extraordinary tournament. Having never made a World Cup final before they had more on the line historically.

“We ran into an outstanding Australian side tonight, who continue to lead the way in world cricket.”

McCullum was quick to reflect on the achievement of his men.

“The brand of cricket we have been able to bring is something we are immensely proud of.”

Michael Clarke was uncharacteristically lost for words when interviewed post match.

“I’m over the moon, what a tournament!” Commented the 245-game veteran.

“For everybody in Australian Cricket it has been a tough few months. We dedicate this World Cup to our little brother, Phil Hughes.”

Australia claimed the title for the 5th time in its 30 year history. The 2015 title is the Aussies 4th in 5 years and caps off a memorable summer of cricket. 

Getty Images: Cameron Spencer