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Cricket news - World Cup 2015: Australia's quintet - clinical, but not easy

A jubilant Australia side after they reclaimed the World Cup

Eden Park, February 28, 2015. New Zealand had bowled out Australia for just 151. That game went down as one of the most exciting in the archives of World Cup of 2015. It all came down to one wicket being the point of difference as Australia were trapped in some sludge of their own making. Yet, that set the tone for their fifth title win.

Doherty: We spent an entire week training at Eden Park in the lead-up to that. There was a huge build-up. Guys from the '92-'93 teams like Craig McDermott, Allan Border, Ian Healy, etc. spoke to us about how intimidating Eden Park can be. Once the game was done and dusted though, it felt like a bit of an anti-climax. It was a bit bizarre. The game was over even before the lights could take effect; the sun was still up. It was such a short game, but it was so intense! 19 wickets to fall. Scoring was so tough. All the little twists and turns throughout. It was quite incredible to be a part of.

That said, we played a pretty poor game and New Zealand had done their best to lose it. And like we were told, it was a seriously intimidating environment with the New Zealand crowd right behind them. We knew we played badly, but to have come so close despite that and make a game out of it, gave us more confidence than we would've had, had we just blown them out of water.

Mitchell Starc led the Australian attack adeptly from the onset. With 22 wickets in eight matches at 10.18 and an economy rate of just 3.50, it's no surprise he was the Player of the Tournament. Defending just 152 against New Zealand, Starc was instrumental in Australia making a game out of it, returning 6-28 in nine overs.

Doherty: When you go back to that New Zealand game, it probably sums it up. He was just the man. He peaked form when it really mattered. Whenever we needed a wicket, whether it was to clean up the tail, or knock the top off, Starcy was the person that Michael threw the ball to. It was quite massive for Australia to have someone bowling at 150 ks and swinging it into the right-hander. And his yorker was lethal. He was an asset that we couldn't have done without.

Yet, Australia went down by the narrowest of margins - their only loss in the World Cup. But there was that one moment in their tournament-opener against England that could've altered the course of proceedings. Instead, it gave them a solid start with a 111-run win.

Doherty: Against England in the first match, Finchy got dropped on maybe the second or third ball of the tournament. He went on to score a hundred (135), we went on to score 300-plus (342). But who knows what could've happened if that catch was taken...

George Bailey had led the side against England before Michael Clarke resumed captain duties thereafter. It forced Bailey out of the team, and the orange vest was sported thereafter through the tournament as 12th man. So much so, he continued to flaunt it even during the celebratory rally after the tournament, just in jest.

Doherty: We knew that there were going to be guys throughout the tournament that weren't going to be able to play every game. Michael missed the first game; there was some doubt in the lead-up anyway. So George captained the first. He probably knew deep down that if he didn't score a bulk of runs, he was going to have to make way. He is a realist and he understood the situation.

Like Bailey, Doherty too only played the one game in the World Cup after having been picked over Nathan Lyon. With Australia's line-up delivering the goods, it was hard to break into the ranks.

Doherty: It was certainly frustrating (not to get many games), but it was something I expected. The quicks were bowling super well. It was going to be hard work to take their place. And with Maxi filling in at 5, 6, 7 or wherever he needed to bat in that particular game, and being able to bowl his ten overs on quite a few occasions, I knew my play-time in the tournament was going to be limited. I would've liked to have played a bigger part, but I guess at the end of the day, I was just happy to play some part, no matter how big or small.

After their loss to New Zealand, there was no stopping Australia, who trotted on comfortably with both their batsmen and bowlers hitting the straps. Add to that home advantage, and there lay the ideal recipe for success.

Doherty: We were playing pretty good cricket at the time, so we were confident going into the World Cup. We knew the conditions were going to suit us. Most of the time, we played well in those conditions; we basically dominated cricket in Australia. The team was pretty settled and we had a lot of guys in form that were used to playing on the grounds that we were going to play on. Especially the final... once we knew it was going to be in Melbourne and we had secured our spot in that, that was always going to be an advantage for us. The support we got all the way around the country was huge. Nearly every game was packed out.

After Australia overcame India by 95 runs, and New Zealand's stunning win in the semifinal over South Africa, there was quite the anticipation for the final, especially given what had transpired in the last Trans-Tasman contest.

In the end, it was quite the anti-climax in an insipid one-sided affair as Australia glided to a seven-wicket win with little fuss. Starc got McCullum early and the pivot of New Zealand's batting line-up was broken.

Doherty: It certainly worked in our favour that it was played in Melbourne rather than Auckland given that everyone were so emotional after their semifinal win. If the final was going to be played in Auckland, it may have turned out to be a different story. But for Starcy to take that early wicket of McCullum really put them on the backfoot and their game-plan changed. He obviously had come off in more games than he hadn't, so it just got us, and 70-80,000 Australians in the crowd, up and going. After that, it just really fell in place. Maxi bowled quite well, Johnson bowled quite well. And Jimmy (Faulkner), when it looked like they were building something, put an end to that and knocked over the tail. It was clinical, but wasn't easy.

Starc getting McCullum for a three-ball duck not just had the 70,000-plus gathered at the MCG in a frenzy. A certain Pat Cummins, who didn't find a place in the XI, couldn't reign in his excitement either.

Doherty: One of the funniest things for me was when Starcy got that first wicket of McCullum. Patty was so excited that he grabbed an esky full of drinks and ran out to the middle. He literally took all the ice out of the esky, dragging it all the way to the square in the middle of the MCG. We actually got in trouble with the umpires and he had to kick off all the ice on his way back. (laughs)

New Zealand may have lost that final, but through the competition, not just did they win games, but a lot of hearts in the process too. The propeller, Brendon McCullum, who actuated a fearless style of cricket that was alien to them until then.

Doherty: Brendon McCullum set the tone with the way he batted, how he just took the game on and the way he led. The way he conducted himself... he really galvanised New Zealand, who were themselves under pressure to win as well despite maybe not having been favourites. They were expecting to have a good tournament with the way he got them playing and how they played throughout. He stood out for me.

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