The writing was on the wall for New Zealand the moment that Daniel Vettori was forced to withdraw from the final. Then again, most of us thought that the writing was on the wall when Jacob Oram was injured, and then Darrel Tuffey, and Jesse Ryder…!
It won’t be any sort of consolation but, when they reflect on their achievement in reaching the final, the Black Caps should – and hopefully will – feel very proud of themselves.
Even during the final when things once again looked bleak and their backs were to the wall, they carried on fighting and refused to give up. We’ve all been in situations which seem hopeless – and we all have some experience of escaping from them and winning games which had surely seemed lost. Every run might be vital and that’s the way you have to play, either batting or fielding. Treat every run you score, or save, as though the match depends on it.
Australia, on the other hand, oozed confidence from the first day of the tournament until the last. Ricky Ponting’s men might not be able to repeat the feats of Gilchrist, Hayden and McGrath on the field but they can copy the body language of their great predecessors and learn to play like winners.
Personally I really enjoyed watching the top orders battle against the new ball on a pitch which offered the fast bowlers seam movement. It may have been said a hundred times already but that’s no reason not to say it again: Cricket is a contest between bat and ball and when conditions are loaded unduly in favour of one above the other then it is no longer a contest. At least, not a fair one.
Opening batsmen should have to work hard in the early stages of any game before conditions become a little easier. That’s why I batted in the middle order!
No doubt the debate and discussion will continue about the future of the 50-over format but, in my opinion, this tournament has done more than enough to remind people that there is still a place for all three formats of the game. I would happily entertain the idea of reducing ODIs to 40 overs and using up all power-plays by the 35th over but it doesn’t have to happen as a matter of urgency, if at all.
It may not have been a ‘classic’ tournament or one which will stick in our memories for years to come but it was still a fine tournament, well organised and well supported. You cannot hope for a classic race every time, even when the best teams in the world are involved.
As a batsmen I have to say that watching a man score an unbeaten hundred to win a match is one of the most satisfying things you can hope to see. Goodness only knows how satisfied Shane Watson must feel after doing it twice in consecutive matches!