• Aussies an example to all

    Australia struck an exceptional balance between their batting and bowling and were deserved winners of the World Cup.

    I don’t think anybody will be too surprised with the way things panned out in the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia produced the best cricket over the course of the tournament, and went into the decider on the back of a good win against India. By contrast, New Zealand relied on one or two individual players, as well as some luck, to qualify.

    New Zealand depend on Brendon McCullum to provide them with momentum up front. It’s a lot of pressure to place on one player, but he has shown before that he can produce some match-winning knocks. On Sunday, however, McCullum succumbed to that pressure. And when he was bowled by Mitchell Starc in the first over of the game, the writing was on the wall for New Zealand.

    Australia have been the best team over the course of the competition. There have been some consistent batting contributions by the likes of Steve Smith, and then Michael Clarke, the man who was struggling for runs, delivered when it mattered most in the final.

    Their fielding has been excellent, and their bowling attack has been world-class. They’ve struck an exceptional balance, and this is why they have enjoyed such success.

    New Zealand will take some consolation from the performances of McCullum, Trent Boult, and Martin Guptill at this World Cup. And yet, they will lament the Black Caps’ inability to fire as a team, as well as the underwhelming showing by their big names in the final itself.

    Some may have felt that Guptill deserved the Man of the Tournament trophy after scoring the most runs in the competition (547 at an average of 68.37). But where was Guptill in the final?

    The decision to hand Mitchell Starc, a bowler, the award is completely justified. There were a number of standout performers in this tournament, most of them batsmen. I said before that it would be a batsman’s World Cup, and that it can’t be easy to bowl on these tracks. I maintain that stance. Starc excelled despite the conditions.

    Boult did a job for New Zealand, and deserves praise for his efforts. Starc deserves the most plaudits because he made the big play in the final itself. Both finished with 22 wickets in the tournament but Starc will be remembered for taking the key wicket of McCullum in the match that mattered most.

    I must admit that I was surprised when Starc was preferred to Mitchell Johnson as Australia’s premier strike weapon at the beginning this World Cup. But credit to the player for making the most of the opportunity, as well as the Australian management for backing him.

    I haven’t seen a quick bowler display that sort of control for some time. That fast, swinging yorker is very difficult to keep out, and even the best batsmen struggle. We saw what happened to McCullum, one of the most dangerous players at this year’s showpiece, when he moved across his stumps in the final.

    Starc received the necessary support from his fellow bowlers, and the team was expertly led by Clarke. The win as well as the team performance in the final allowed Clarke a fairy tale ending to his ODI career.

    Other sides should take note of what Australia achieved in 2015. While a strong batting lineup is important, a team cannot expect to succeed unless it strikes the right balance between bat and ball. Australia walked that line at the 2015 World Cup, and were duly rewarded.

    Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.

    Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.

    Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
    Name of Bank: Standard Bank
    Account Number: 281 464 359
    Branch: Fourways Crossing
    Branch Code: 009 953
    Type of Account: Trust Account
    Ref: Mr G Pollock

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    Graeme Pollock