Playing at MCG will be a challenge for New Zealand and they will not have the same support

For both Australia and New Zealand, it has been a cricket promoters’ dream. If junior numbers don’t increase after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, then cricket has no chance. New Zealand is a country dominated by rugby and has been transfixed by what’s been happening in front of their eyes with the success of their team in this World Cup.


For them, now is a new challenge playing for the first time in Australia. I believe this won’t really play a huge factor because it’s mainly been about the way New Zealand have been going about this tactically. Trent Boult and Tim Southee have been excellent up front with the new ball, so they will enjoy the extra bounce from the MCG wicket. Brendon McCullum has attacked the quickies at the top of order like no other. If he can get the Kiwis off to another flying start, it will help them structure their innings.


Also now they have a number of other players playing well. This has given this group their best chance ever of winning an ICC Cricket World Cup. The journey up to this point has been an amazing ride for all the players, I am sure. Straight after the Champions League last year in October, Brendon McCullum and his team visited the MCG back and they spoke about March 29, when they would return here and play in the World Cup final.


So, you might say excellent preparation by the management staff at New Zealand cricket for its foresight!


Australia have already had that experience of the MCG with their first game against England where they played so well and launched their World Cup campaign. I happened to be there as well to feel the atmosphere it was just brilliant 84,000 people really enjoying every minute. I personally went and stood in the MCG Members area when Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell were going well.


This will be New Zealand’s challenge, playing in a stadium like this and not having the same support. New Zealand has played all its matches in their country at some of the smaller and most unique grounds, which are picturesque. I am sure plenty of Black Caps followers will be making the journey as I write because this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Let me say it again, New Zealand in an ICC Cricket World Cup final NOT rugby, and this team has a chance of holding the trophy aloft.

But they are going to have to fight like anything to beat Australia, which is playing with plenty of confidence and based on last night’s attitude, the deliverance under pressure will hold them in good stead.


Fifty-over cricket has showed how important the top three batsmen are (Ricky Ponting in 2003, Adam Gilchrist in 2007 and Gautam Gambhir in 2011 for India).


With only one game to go and to complete the fairy tale of these teams, 22 players that will take to field on Sunday afternoon and only 11 will hold the prize at the end. It will take a special effort from someone, so any of the players can make a difference and may potentially have a huge imprint on the outcome.


It will be a spectacle come Sunday, as both these teams deserve the right to be out there. Coming into the tournament both these teams were on the shortlist but now they are here.


New Zealand players will probably be knighted if they win and will always be remember for this amazing performance to date, it’s the best by a country mile. For the Australian players, the incentive is that they will have a chance to win in their own backyard and match India’s achievement. Will we see another World Cup in the next 20 years? Maybe not, though we will get lots of bilateral series and the ICC World Twenty20 in 2020.


When all’s said and done, the side that stays focused, blocks all distractions and do what they came at the MCG for, will win!


Courtesy: ICC


(One of the most successful all-rounders at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, Andy Bichel scored 117 runs in three innings and took 16 wickets in 8 matches, including a career-best seven for 20 against England in Port Elizabeth. In the same match, he scored 35 not out and put on 73 runs for the unfinished ninth wicket with Michael Bevan (74 not out) to snatch victory for Australia from the jaws of defeat. The 44-year-old Queenslander played 67 ODIs in which he scored 471 runs and took 78 wickets)