How come Australia is odds on to win the Cricket World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday?
New Zealand beat Australia when they met earlier in the tournament and Australian commentators are saying the Black Caps will be overawed by the occasion. It’s just par for the course and what we’ve come to expect with the sometimes friendly trans-Tasman rivalry.
Former Australia batsman Matthew Hayden says the MCG is too big for New Zealand which has won all eight of its games in the tournament to date. Hayden says the Blacks have been winning because of home zone comfort and in small stadiums.
The word from inside the Black Caps camp is that they are just loving these Kiwi-bashing comments which serve to make them more determined for the final. Hayden says Eden Park is so small that it should not be a cricket ground. Great stuff. That’s on a par with one Sydney journalist who wrote one year that Sir Edmund Hillary was an Australian.
Some years ago New Zealand beat Australia on Australia Day in Adelaide, bowling them out for just 74. The Aussie captain on the day brushed off the result saying, “mate, even though you beat us, we’re still the best”.
Take out Steve Smith, one of the top three batsmen in the world on current form, and fast bowler Mitchell Starc, the Australians have been largely unimpressive in the World Cup. They battled in their quarter-final at Adelaide to chase down a poor score by Pakistan. Shane Watson was cowering and intimidated by pace bowler Wahad Riaz.
New Zealand will not be thinking about Australia in the final. They will be focused on their game. They have beaten all countries before in this tournament because they have performed better.
Either way the game will set a record for one of the biggest crowds ever to watch cricket at the MCG. The record of 91,112 was set against England two years ago. A big crowd attended a mass when Pope John Paul II appeared there in 1986. Australians will be praying they won’t lose to New Zealand on Sunday. They could not cope.
Go the Black Caps!