Cricket World Cup 2015….Wonder Down Under

‘The Cup That Counts’ travelled back to Australia and New Zealand after a lapse of 23 years. It is here that coloured clothing and white balls were first used, as was the concept of ‘hitting over the top’, up above the in-field, pioneered by the Kiwi southpaw Mark Greatbatch. And then in 2015 it was indeed Wonder Down Under as the two hosts contested the final, and Australia wrested the title for the fifth time in eleven tournaments, fourth time in the previous five editions. New Zealand’s fond hopes in their first World Cup final were not realised.

It was Wonder Down Under as the first double-century in the World Cup was blasted by the irrepressible Chris Gayle, and then the second by New Zealand opener Martin Guptill. It was also Wonder Down Under as the highest total of 417 for 6, as also the largest 275-run margin of victory, by Australia against first-timers Afghanistan were logged up; so also the highest match aggregate of 688 for 19 wickets in the Australia versus Sri Lanka game;.

The batting wonders continued…..an astonishing four consecutive centuries by the legendary Kumar Sangakkara; and superfast centuries (seven of the twelve fastest ever in the World Cup) with Glenn Maxwell and A.B. de Villiers racing to the milestone in 51 and 52 deliveries respectively, just short of Kevin O’Brien’s mark of 50 balls. There were hurricane fifties, the quickest by Brendon McCullum off a mere 18 deliveries, and six of the nine quickest.

Gayle clouted 26 sixes and de Villiers 21 in the tournament; Gayle rocketed 16 sixes in an innings; Martin Guptill hammered 24 fours in an innings and Tillakaratne Dilshan 22; Guptill smashed 162 runs in boundaries in an innings, followed by Gayle with 136 and de Villiers 116; partnership of 372 runs between Gayle and Marlon Samuels, highest partnerships for three of the ten wickets. They were all World Cup records.

As a consequence, five of the most expensive bowling analyses were seen, and two of three occasions when 100 or more runs were conceded by a bowler in an innings (in 10 overs each in this tournament, while the other instance was when bowlers were allowed 12 overs). It was a veritable World Cup batting revolution.       

Every motif of the tournament logo, which was unveiled on the day of the 2011 final, has a unique significance. Australia’s Balarinji Studio, whose tagline is ancient culture – created contemporary designs, and based the motifs on interpretations of the deputed agency FutureBrand’s creative brief signifying toughness, glory, resilience, connection and belonging. Thus, Maori Tohora symbolizes toughness, pride and tribal culture, and aboriginal journey tracks symbolize the spirit of the land. The objective was that each element of the logo would contribute to building the story of the World Cup, the flagship event of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The format of the tournament remained unchanged. Once again there were fourteen teams, comprising all ten full members of the ICC, and four associate and affiliate members that graduated through the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifying programme. This opened a window to each of the associate and affiliate members of ICC to qualify for the marquee World Cup right from Division Eight of the World Cricket League. It was refreshing to see Afghanistan make their debut and become the 20th team to play the World Cup, and United Arab Emirates make a re-entry after first appearing in 1996. Globalisation of the game of cricket was complete.

Hero Honda Motors opted out of ICC events and cricket in general. Yahoo Inc. were associated only in the 2011 World Cup. Those that remained ICC World Cup 2015 Partners were ESPN Star Sports, Reliance Communications Limited, LG Electronics, PepsiCo, Emirates, Reebok International Limited, Castrol and MoneyGram International. Hyundai Motor Co. drove in to partake in the exhilarating journey.

Further partnerships were forged for “ICC’s flagship ODI event”. Wolf Blass, based in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, was the Official Wine in Australia for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Matua Wines was the Official Wine in New Zealand for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

The official host charity partners for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 were McGrath Foundation in Australia and The Cancer Society in New Zealand. The host charity partners joined ICC’s two global charity partners – THINK WISE and Room to Read. THINK WISE promotes awareness and understanding about HIV, and is a joint initiative of ICC, UNAIDS and UNICEF. Room to Read propagates literacy. The McGrath Foundation was started in 2005 by the legendary Australian paceman Glenn McGrath after his wife Jane succumbed to breast cancer. The Cancer Society of New Zealand is devoted to reducing the occurrence and trauma of cancer, and ensuring the best cancer care for all the people in New Zealand.

The total prize money was increased to $10.225 million. The champions were awarded $3.9750 million, but if they won all their matches they stood to rake in $4.275 million. The runners-up received $1.75 million, the losing semi-finalists $600,000 each, the losing quarter-finalists $300,000 each, the winners of the 42 preliminary matches $45,000 per game, and the six teams getting knocked out after the pool matches $35,000 each.

About 4,000 volunteers offered their services during the tournament, and 1,500 ‘net bowlers’ assisted the teams during practice.

The opening game saw Hagley Oval, Christchurch earn the distinction of becoming the 100th venue to host World Cup matches.

New Zealand and India topped Pool A and Pool B respectively, each winning all their six matches. The quarter-finals were one-sided, South Africa beating Sri Lanka, India beating Bangladesh, Australia beating Pakistan, and New Zealand beating West Indies.

In the semi-finals, New Zealand edged out South Africa under the Duckworth-Lewis method with just one delivery remaining. This was New Zealand’s eighth straight win in this tournament, the joint fourth-best winning sequence in the World Cup.

Reigning champions India could not put up much of a fight against hosts Australia. India, though, had clinched their 11th consecutive win in the World Cup, beginning 20th March 2011 and lasting till this quarter-final. This was second after Australia’s amazing streak of 25 successive triumphs from 20th June 1999 to 25th February 2011. India also bowled out their opponents in seven successive matches, all in this tournament, the most by any team in the World Cup.

New Zealand did not offer a challenge in the final. For the second time running, the home team Australia clinched the coveted title.

The Final:

29 Mar 2015, Melbourne Cricket Ground (day/night)

Toss: New Zealand

New Zealand 183 (45 overs)

Ross Taylor 40 (72), Grant Elliott 83 (82), Mitchell Johnson 3/30 (3.33), James Faulkner 3/36 (4.00)

Australia 186/3 (33.1 overs)

David Warner 45 (46), Steve Smith 56* (71), Michael Clarke 74 (72)

Australia won by 7 wickets

Man of the match: James Faulkner

Player of the tournament: Mitchell Starc

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email  singh_iv@hotmail.com).

Follow his blogs: 

https://singhiv.wordpress.com/  https://indravikramsingh.blogspot.com/

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