Heroes fall at last hurdle with nation behind them

It wasn’t the result New Zealand was hoping for, but Michael Clarke and his Australian brothers paid the ultimate respect to Phillip Hughes in Melbourne by winning the Cricket World Cup.

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Australia beat the Blackcaps with ease.

It was a CWC final that broke the hearts of New Zealanders.

It was just a different performance than any other in the tournament from the Blackcaps, and it was the performance that the nation was dreading.

The Blackcaps won the toss and chose to bat first.

Mitch Starc’s wicket of Blackcaps captain Brendon McCullum in the first over set the tone for what would go on to be a dominate performance by Australia.

Nothing went right for the batsmen, and when Grant Elliot failed to rescue the innings, New Zealand were doomed to finish on a total that never felt near the desired mark.

Trent Boult again showed his class as arguably the best bowler in the world with an early wicket of Aaron Finch to give New Zealand a small ray of hope.

But lets be honest New Zealand – the Blackcaps were never in the contest.

Sitting in front of the television screens would have been a painful experience for the Blackcaps loyal, but what needs to be taken away from this is just how well our cricketers did to make it to that stage in the first place.

Brendon McCullum said quite famously “this is the time of our lives”.

It wasn’t only the time of his life, but the time of our cricketing lives also, something that has been said a lot in the last week.

This is the possibly the best Blackcaps side you will ever see.

The entertainment and excitement that the two games at Eden Park and Wellington gave to cricket fans is more than enough to warrant what has been not only our best World Cup on the field, but the most exciting for the public.

Winning in Melbourne against Australia was always going to be one hell of a task.

The Blackcaps may not have won this tournament, but they have captured the love and hearts of an entire nation on a level never before seen for cricket in New Zealand.

CWC 15: Big Sri Lankan challenge awaits Australia

Australia is still a side looked at as big CWC contenders despite a tight squeeze in Pool A heading towards the finals.

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The Australian media slammed the performance of the side following their batting collapse and eventual narrow lose to New Zealand last Saturday.

Despite Australia’s bounce back coming against an associate nation, Australia returned to their dominant best yesterday against the U.A.E in Perth.

Posting 417 batting first, Australia never looked anything but certain and thumped the U.A.E by a record 275-runs.

Warner blasted 178, before Glenn Maxwell bashed 88.

Mitchell Johnson took 4 wickets with the ball, pace bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitch Starc joined with two wickets each.

Shane Watson has been dropped from the side for the returning power of James Faulkner, though Faulkner failed to deliver in his first match back.

Australia currently sit third in Pool A, and if they beat Sri Lanka on Sunday, will qualify for the quarter finals, where they could play South Africa, and if successful in that bout, a potential rematch with New Zealand back at Eden Park.

Sri Lanka are fresh off a dominant victory over England in Wellington last Sunday.

Sunday’s clash against Sri Lanka will be crucial for the Australian’s to win and win well.

Michael Clarke’s career potentially over

The drama in cricket continued today after Australian captain Michael Clarke revealed his career may be over after yet another injury.

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After returning to the crease to bat on after suffering a back injury, Michael Clarke battled with his body throughout the first test against India, playing with a back injury that was being seduced by painkiller injections.

On the final day of the test match he tore his right hamstring while fielding.

The injury will see Clarke ruled out of the test series against India and potentially the rest of the summer.

But Clarke’s admission that his career may be over during the media conference took a few off guard.

The Australian skipper has been battling his body for a longtime now and has suffered five major notable injuries since March this year.

It is a cruel blow not only to Clarke himself, not only to the team, but also to world cricket because it just feels at the moment like one more comeback from injury and a sudden relapse again would call time on the career of Michael Clarke.

A career that despite all its amazing feats that will go down in history, is still so young.

Clarke still has so much to give to cricket, and it would be a terrific shame if he wasn’t able to come back from this.

Just last month Clarke injured his left hamstring, now he has torn his right hamstring.

But through it all Clarke has maintained that he has no regrets about returning to the field during the first test against India while suffering a back injury.

Clarke called it the most important game of his career.

It is also a game that in the worst case scenario for cricket, could well be Clarke’s last for Australia.

Whatever the next couple of months leading into the Cricket World Cup brings, and hopefully Clarke will be able to play again and be a part of that tournament, there is simply no denying that he is one of the bravest cricketers ever to play the game.

Caution must be taken with Michael Clarke returning in test

Michael Clarke could return to the crease today after taking painkiller injections overnight for his back injury which is said to be a disc issue.

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Clarke left the field yesterday with back spasms and was at a local hospital receiving treatment for much of the afternoon.

Word out of Australia prior to play today is that Michael Clarke has been batting in the nets and is desperate to get back to the crease at some point either this morning or this afternoon.

But to be honest, while the Australian skipper is obviously showing some terrific guts in his bid to get back on the field today, caution needs to be taken with a return to the crease today and the decision must be weighed heavily.

The injuries are becoming more and more frequent which is what is most concerning.

Clarke was originally ruled out of opening test against India but passed a late test to make the side.

It is clear that Clarke’s determination to play is largely in part to the passing of Phil Hughes. Clarke wants to get a century and he wants to get it in this match especially.

With the Cricket World Cup just over 60 days away, what is the risk of Clarke suffering another and potentially more damaging injury between now and then if he forces his body to play on with just a temporary fix?

You’d have to say there is a high chance.

It remains to be seen if Clarke will take the field in Adelaide today, but word out of the Australian camp is that he is desperate.

Cricket! Keep the bouncer in the game

The bouncer is an integral part of cricket, and nothing should change that.

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The cricketing world is in a deep state of mourning, and this afternoon the world will pause for one final farewell to the late Phillip Hughes.

Players from all over the world are expected to be in Macksville, including the entire Australian Test team as well as legends of the game including Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath.

There is simply no denying that the sudden death of Phil Hughes is the most tragic story in the history of cricket.

But through all the sadness, the fundamentals of cricket should not be changed. Talks of banning the short pitched ball commonly referred to as a bouncer are utterly idiotic.

Yes, even with the death of Hughes, talk of banning the bouncer as a result of all this is completely and utterly idiotic.

Getting rid of short pitched bowling would further favor the game of cricket towards the batsmen, and undoubtably the impact of this would result in a game that would slowly over time become less and less exciting.

Stuff columnist Mark Reason wrote a column this morning titled “Phillip Hughes death highlights cricket hypocrisy” discusses this very issue, and is one of the most silly things to be written in the wake of the Hughes tragedy.

In one particular line in Reason’s column, he writes that “the circumstances that led to the tragedy have been fostered by Clarke and others”. This is not only untrue and unfounded, but quite a disgusting comment to make in light of the current heartbreak Clarke and his Australian teammates are going through at the moment.

Excuse me Mr. Reason.

Calling cricket players hypocritical because they are so sad at the moment and your implying that because bowlers in recent games prior to Hughes death bowlers have implemented the bouncer as a tactic to get batsmen out is somehow reason for them to not be allowed to grieve is one of the most disgusting things anyone has written on this situation in the last week.

Sometimes you wonder why the NZ media has the faith to hire such writers.

The battle between Mitchell Johnson and the English batsmen last summer, although brutal, was one of the most exciting and edgy things cricket has seen in a long time.

Let’s not forget it was the Ashes.

For god sake ICC, please don’t change the fundamentals of cricket. Change nothing, the death of Phillip Hughes which honestly was just a freak accident and the game shouldn’t suffer because of it.