The Cricket World Cup has ended with Australia demolishing New Zealand in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground overnight.
This has been an amazing tournament replete with quality cricket and fascinating stories. Australia proved worthy favourites with their astonishingly clinical win in the final. The World Cup though was about more than one team winning and with that in mind here are my 5 moments that mattered from Cricket World Cup 2015:
- MS Dhoni’s real legacy … giving up: Much is made in commentary and on the internet of the excellence of MS Dhoni’s captaincy and finishing ability in ODI cricket. Against Australia in the semi-final Dhoni was faced with a situation which suited the legend that surrounds him. A large run chase, plenty of overs to control the timing of the chase and wickets in hand. However when things got too hard Dhoni just gave up. First he started blocking when acceleration was needed and then, inexplicably, he did not try to make his ground when run out by Glenn Maxwell. He should have been at least trying because odds were he would have made his ground. Everytime I hear the hyperbole about the greatness of Dhoni that image will be at the forefront of my mind: he just gave up … simple!
- Bangladesh into the quarter finals: Before this tournament started most would have thought that they would be able to select the 8 teams to go through to the knockout rounds without much hassle. There was a feeling of inevitability about it. Then England came to the tournament in disarray and with a mindset harking back to the days of Gatting and Gooch and played, frankly, horribly. This set up a qualifying final in Adelaide with Bangladesh facing England for the final slot in Pool A. Bangladesh’s win in this game was wonderful, not only because it came against an opponent that they were vastly out matched by on paper, but because of what it will do for cricket in their home country. This is a place of 156M people and to read of their celebrations after this win warmed the heart.
- 300 a barrier no more: I know that there have been scores of 400 or more in ODI cricket before however there has been still, it appears to me, been a mental barrier about the size of total with a 3 in front of it when it comes to chasing in the second innings of these sorts of fixtures. Across this tournament though we saw some massive totals run down with no better example than Sri Lanka chasing Englands 309 first innings score with 9 wickets in hand and 3 overs remaining. The game has changed and now 300 runs is not the target it once was.
- The “Associates” must play more cricket: Much has been made of the place (or otherwise) of the “Associate” ICC member nations at the Cricket World Cup. Even during the Final the Chairman of the ICC was heard speak on their involvement and the ICC’s preference for those nations to have the tools to be more competitive at tournaments like this. It is simple to say but surely these teams improve by playing more cricket against the “full” member nations? Has the ICC learned nothing from the experience of Sri Lanka’s slow introduction to the game of cricket? For years Sri Lanka was a laughing stock and an after thought but as they started to play more and more cricket against the more experienced nations they thrived and have won a World Cup. From exhuberance of Hamid Hassan through to John Mooney’s story of redemption these teams provided part of the fabric of this tournament. Now the cricket community has to give them the tools to win.
- Grant Elliot … the shot heard around the cricket world: The first semi final in this Cricket World Cup was a game for the ages and ended with a mighty blow by Grant Elliot off Dale Steyn. I can not recall being more emotional about the result of a cricket game not involving Australia than I was at the end of this game. There was some amazing cricket before this moment but the final blow was a microsm of New Zealand’s growth in stature throughout this tournament. The co-hosts had prepared perfectly but most pundits were just waiting for them to fall and when it looked like they would a discard from another country who took his chance in New Zealand repaid their faith and got the job done. Just amazing!
So now we have 4 more years to wait for the next instalment of the Cricket World Cup. Much will happen in the game between now and then and I, for one, can not wait to see where the game is taken by those who play it and administer it.