Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor
Australia captain Michael Clarke dedicated his side’s World Cup success to his former team-mate Phillip Hughes.
Clarke led his side to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, scoring 74 as he bowed out of one-day cricket in style.
The 33-year-old said the win was dedicated to Hughes, who died aged 25 in November after being struck on the head by a bouncer.
Speaking about the black armband he was wearing on his left arm, Clarke told Sky Sports World Cup: “As you can see it’s got PH on it. I’ll wear it every game I play for Australia.
“I think for everybody in Australian cricket it’s been really tough few months.
“I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself, I’m sure everybody standing on this stage tonight will say that we’ve played this World Cup with 16 players and tonight is certainly dedicated to our little brother and our team-mate Phillip Hughes.
“Hughes used to party as good as any of them so I’ll make sure we drink two (beers) at a time tonight, one for Hughesy and one for us.”
Clarke, who struck 10 fours and one maximum off 72 balls, and Steve Smith (56 not out) put on a third-wicket partnership of 112 as the hosts made light work of reaching their 184-run target with 101 balls remaining.
Grant Elliott had earlier top-scored with 83 off 82 balls for New Zealand, but his team-mates only managed to muster 100 further runs between them as a powerplay began their collapse in the 36th over and they lost three wickets for just one run.
Mitchell Johnson claimed figures of three for 30 and James Faulkner three for 36 in Australia’s attack.
Clarke said: “We’re really proud, it’s a wonderful achievement. It’s a great thing just to make a World Cup final, but to be able to win in your own back yard in front of your family and friends is extremely special and I guarantee we’ll celebrate hard tonight.
“Obviously I’m over the moon. What a tournament.
“The New Zealand team deserve a lot of credit . They’re always a tough team to beat it seems in any sporting event. Australia v New Zealand is always an exciting contest and tonight was no different.”
Clarke, who announced his retirement from one-day cricket on Saturday, praised the fans and his team for getting them through to the final.
He added: “To the Australian fans, to all the fans of the game of cricket, I think it’s been an amazing turnout this tournament. To the support we’ve had over the tournament, thanks to every Australian and cricket supporter out there.
“Thanks, most importantly to that amazing team including support staff. I couldn’t have asked any more than for the support I’ve received since coming back into the team.
“The way they’ve stood up and played they certainly deserve to stand here tonight and hold that trophy up.”
He added: ” It’s been an honour and a privilege to represent my country in both Test and one-day cricket and Twenty20 cricket.
“The time is right for me to walk away from one-day cricket, but I’ll keep playing Test cricket.”
Australia’s Mitchell Starc was named player of the tournament after taking two for 20 in the final to finish joint top wicket-taker at the World Cup alongside New Zealand’s Trent Boult, with 22 wickets apiece.
Meanwhile Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum was obviously disappointed with his side’s defeat, but praised the hosts for their victory and gave credit to Clarke as he bowed out of the shorter format of the game.
He said: “It’s been one hell of a ride for us right the way through. I think we’ve played some outstanding cricket and we ran into an outstanding Australia team tonight who continue to set the way in international cricket and full credit to them, they deserve to be champions.
“Michael Clarke as well, he deserves to bow out a World Cup-winning champion too. They were outstanding in this World Cup and thoroughly deserved to win.
“We were the second-best team on the day and all credit to Australia.”
McCullum took time to reflect on the tournament as a whole and said he was “proud” of his team’s performances as they became the first New Zealand side to reach a World Cup final.
He added: “We’ve forged some memories and friendships that will last forever.
“Obviously we’re not able to lift the trophy but the brand of cricket and the entertainment that we’ve been able to give people throughout our country and throughout the world is something we’re immensely proud of.
“We have no regrets and we walk away from this tournament with our heads held high.
“It’s the greatest time of your life to be able to represent your country on the international stage with a group of friends and then put your skills against the world’s best – it is the greatest time of our lives and that’s how we tried to play the game, play with a free spirit and plenty of heart all the way along.
“It’s taken us so far in this tournament but we weren’t obviously able to get over the final hurdle, but it’s something that I’m immensely proud of, all the guys in the team, all the management group and all those that have been part of this team over the last few years and helped build us into what we are.
“We’ve still got some work to do but we can be very proud of our achievements in this tournament.”
Published: Sunday 29th March 2015 by The News Editor