Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - The redemption of the unlikely popular winners. Australian men's team won their maiden T20 WC
Australian men's team won their maiden T20 WC
Glenn Maxwell had broken down. Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh were in tears too as they went down to their knees and clasped each other tightly. And there were a few more moist eyes in the Aussie camp, even as they roared and screamed in delight while hugging and high-fiving each other.
The expression, “I'm not crying, you are” has been doing the rounds on social media a lot this year, especially in Australia, starting with the Olympics. But it didn't surface too much last night. For it's safe to say, almost nobody who sat in front of their respective screens around Australia was denying the fact that they were indeed ‘crying' along with their cricketing superstars. Not so much because Aaron Finch & Co had become the first Australian men's team to have won a T20 WC. But more so because of the unbridled show of emotion from their players, led by Marsh and Stoinis.
In that moment, it felt like a different Australia. This may have been their first major trophy win in this shortest format, but we've all seen Australia win World Cups before. But on this occasion, the bunch that had stormed to victory felt more like a human juggernaut, with real feelings, with real sentiments, just more real than ever before.
What we witnessed from Finch and his team in those initial few moments following Maxwell's very apt finishing manoeuvre, the reverse sweep off the seamer for four, was unadulterated delight. In that moment, for the lack of a better term, they seemed more human. To the extent that it would have been difficult even for their staunchest of critics to begrudge the Australians their ultimate moment of glory in T20I cricket. Not even the fact that they'd beaten everyone's sentimental pick, New Zealand, and denied Kane Williamson another tryst with his elusive destiny could change that.
In all their previous World Cup wins, we'd got accustomed to seeing Awe-stralia with this hard, uncompromising exterior, and celebrations that would have an air of inevitability, a bit of “we told you so”. What we witnessed at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday (November 14) night, seemed more like Aww-stralia.
Perhaps it had to do with not many in the Aussie camp having expected to come this far in the tournament, forget win it. Perhaps it had to do with the realisation that not many still consider them a great force to be reckoned with in this format and how regularly they've been told that over the last 12 months or so. So much so that, you could sense a tinge of “Wow, we actually pulled this off” in their immediate reactions, which included some of them running on to the field even before the ball had actually crossed the boundary rope.
This is not to say that we'll see a seismic shift in the number of neutrals rooting for Australia from this point on. Nor that they will be hailed as popular world champions outside their own shores. But for now, the cricket world seemed to come together to acknowledge the fact that Australia are indeed deserved winners of the T20 crown.
It's safe to say that a significant portion of that temporary soft corner for the Australians might have to do with the man who led them to victory on Sunday. Mitchell Marsh after all has been battling his own insecurities with regards to being accepted by his own countrymen pretty much through his entire career. And for him to be the one playing the starring role, two years after having semi-joked about “winning over the Aussie fans one day”, had a feel-good element, not always seen in the otherwise clinical manner of Australia's World Cup wins. Eventually, only for a day, Marsh may even have usurped Williamson for being the most liked cricketer in the world. Such was his impact and presence in the middle.
For all the overflow of emotion that came later, it was still a typically hard-nosed and dispassionate performance from the Aussies that won them their first T20I title. It was what you expect from them in a big final. Their stars with the ball, like was the case throughout the tournament, were two bowlers who go about their handiwork with very little fuss. The fact that Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa don't always steal the limelight is at some level due to just how exceptionally consistent they are with what they do best. They almost make it difficult to build much excitement around themselves, except to simply doff your hats to their skills and how they execute them – as combined figures of 8-0-42-4 will indicate. It's a lot like how Australia go about their busines in a big final and why they've been so successful in these scenarios. The way in which they're able to disassociate from any kind of additional narrative to the obvious one of lifting the trophy with bloody-minded focus.
Having said that, there was certainly more at stake here than perhaps has been for a long time in a World Cup final for Australia. This had already been a tough year on and off the field. It'd started with the humbling defeat to India in the Test series followed by even more disappointing results on the road. There were reports of disharmony in the camp with Justin Langer's coaching style under great scrutiny. Some of their big-name players were criticised for having opted out of national duty owing to the pandemic, despite having braved it for their franchises in the IPL. And to boot, very few had given them a chance to make any kind of impact on this T20 WC. Everything from their squad to their approach had been questioned if not ridiculed. That they were able to still park all of this on the sidelines and almost canter to victory in a World Cup final was just another reason why Australia are so good at winning in sport.
Marsh wasn't the only redemption story that headlined Sunday's main event though. David Warner's 2021 has largely been symptomatic of Australia's travails and he looked keener than he ever has to make this his night. But he wasn't going to let any emotion come in the way of finishing the task at hand. As impressive as their strokeplay, the intensity of their fist-bumps in the middle, and the fire in their eyes, was as integral an aspect of the partnership between Marsh and Warner. And they systematically targeted and took down the challenges in the Kiwi bowling attack, one at a time, It was a masterclass on applying an indomitable submission hold on a hapless opponent. Finally, it was also only apt that the Aussie who's made more of a name than anyone else in his team in T20 cricket was the one to hit the winning runs. It summed up a perfect outing for the Australians. And then came the outburst of emotions. For all the outpouring of joy around the Dubai International Stadium, Langer's little (but rather rhythmic) jig on the red carpet en route to the bus if anything captured the magnitude of his team's achievement and how they were prepared to let the rest of the world share in their joy, momentarily.
And even if only briefly it was safe to say that, New Zealand had lost but the nice guys had still won.