Section: Australia

Cricket World Cup: Australia crush New Zealand in final

Australia overwhelmed New Zealand to win the World Cup for a fifth time at an ecstatic Melbourne Cricket Ground.

World Cup final, Melbourne:
New Zealand 183 (45 overs): Elliott 83, Johnson 3-30, Faulkner 3-36
Australia 186-3 (33.1 overs): Clarke 74, Smith 56*
Australia win by seven wickets

New Zealand lost influential captain Brendon McCullum to the fifth ball of the match and were bowled out for 183.

Grant Elliott resisted with 83, while Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner shared eight wickets.

Australia rarely looked troubled, sealing a seven-wicket win in 33.1 overs, with captain Michael Clarke scoring 74 and Steve Smith 56 not out.

Clarke, in his final one-day international, was given a standing ovation by the record 93,000 crowd and welcomed by his team-mates on the boundary when he was bowled by Matt Henry with eight required.

He was part of the Australia team that last lifted the trophy in 2007, with this success extending their record for most World Cups won. No other team has more than two.

Australia’s win was the second in as many tournaments by a host nation after India’s triumph four years ago.

It provided a joyous end to an emotional Australian summer which saw batsman Phillip Hughes die after being struck on the neck by a ball in Sydney in November.

In their first final, after six previous semi-final defeats, New Zealand were blown away.

Their path to Melbourne came with eight successive wins, all on home soil, and most of the pre-match speculation was of how McCullum’s men would deal with the change in conditions.

They won what was thought to be a crucial toss, but the life was sucked from their innings almost as soon as it began.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia beat India to reach final

Australia powered into the World Cup final with a 95-run victory over defending champions India in Sydney.

World Cup semi-final, Sydney:
Australia 328-7 (50 overs): Smith 105, Finch 81, Yadav 4-72
India 233 (46.5 overs): Dhoni 65, Faulkner 3-59
Australia won by 95 runs

Steve Smith struck a fluent 105 from 93 balls and Aaron Finch 81 as Australia posted 328-7, the highest score in a World Cup semi-final.

India made a solid start to their reply but lost four wickets for 32 runs and fell well short on 233 despite captain MS Dhoni making 65.

Australia will meet fellow co-hosts New Zealand in Sunday’s final in Melbourne.

They will do so looking for their fifth World Cup crown – no other team has more than two – and on the back of a seventh semi-final win in as many attempts.

For India, the defence of the trophy they won on home soil four years ago and a run of 16 consecutive wins in major one-day tournaments – the World Cup and Champions Trophy – is over.

They can reflect on how their top order fell apart after openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on 76 inside 13 overs, but perhaps Dhoni’s biggest mistake was calling incorrectly at the toss.

As a result, India, who failed to win any of the 10 matches on their tour of Australia that preceded the World Cup, were made to bowl first on a Sydney pitch that was full of runs.

Even then, Australia failed to fully capitalise on the second-wicket stand of 182 between Smith and Finch, as Michael Clarke’s men were stunted by the off-breaks of Ravichandran Ashwin and a curious collective failure against back-of-a-length bowling.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia beat Pakistan to reach semi-finals

Australia withstood a pulsating spell of fast bowling from Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz to set up a meeting with India in the World Cup semi-finals.

World Cup quarter-final, Adelaide:
Pakistan 213 (49.5 overs): Haris Sohail 41, Hazlewood 4-35
Australia 216-4 (33.5 overs): Smith 65, Watson 64*
Australia won by six wickets

Australia’s hopes of chasing 214 looked in peril when Riaz removed David Warner and Michael Clarke to leave them 59-3.

But Steve Smith countered with a measured 65 and Shane Watson capitalised on a dropped catch to steer Australia home with an unbeaten 64.

Earlier, Josh Hazlewood took 4-35 as Pakistan slid from 97-2 to 213 all out.

Australia’s victory keeps them on course for a fifth World Cup victory and sets up a chance to avenge their 2011 quarter-final defeat by India in Sydney next week.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia thrash Scotland in last group game

Australia raced to a seven-wicket win and condemned Scotland to a sixth straight defeat in the final World Cup Pool A game.

World Cup Pool A, Hobart:
Scotland 130 (25.4 overs): Machan 40; Starc 4-14
Australia 133-3 (15.2 overs): Clarke 47
Australia won by seven wickets

Mitchell Starc took 4-13 and Pat Cummins 3-42 to bowl Scotland out for 130 in 25.4 overs in Hobart.

Michael Clarke, promoted up the order, hit 47 as Australia won with 34.4 overs to spare after a 90-minute rain delay.

They face a quarter-final against Pakistan or Ireland, who meet on Sunday, in Adelaide on 20 March.

Australia captain Clarke said: “We had one little hiccup against New Zealand, but now it’s the knockout stages.

“We need to play at our best and I think if we do, we can win.”

Scotland finished bottom of the group, having extended their unwanted record of World Cup games without a win to 14 since their debut in 1999.

But captain Preston Mommsen said: “We take a huge amount of positives from the past six games, and we leave the World Cup a better team.”

The batting problems which have undermined this campaign – Scotland have been bowled out in all but one game – were evident again as five players made ducks.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia overcome Sri Lanka in Sydney

Glenn Maxwell hit the second-fastest century in World Cup history as Australia beat Sri Lanka by 64 runs to advance to the quarter-finals.

World Cup Pool A, Sydney:
Australia 376-9 (50 overs): Maxwell 102, Smith 72, Clarke 68, Watson 67
Sri Lanka 312 (46.2 overs): Sangakkara 104, Dilshan 62, Chandimal 52
Australia won by 64 runs

Maxwell’s first one-day international ton, reached off 51 balls, inspired Australia’s total of 376-9 in Sydney.

Sri Lanka fell short in a spirited run chase despite a third consecutive World Cup century from Kumar Sangakkara and a quickfire 52 from Dinesh Chandimal.

Australia are likely to meet either Ireland or Pakistan in the last eight.

Michael Clarke’s side, who face Scotland in their final Pool A match in Hobart on 14 March, should finish second behind New Zealand in their group, and would therefore meet the team that finishes third in Pool B.

Sri Lanka, who lie in third place in the group with six points from their five matches, also face Scotland in their final Pool A match in Hobart on 11 March.

Maxwell hit 10 fours and four sixes in an innings of 102 that combined deft placement with power hitting, as the 26-year-old finally reached three figures in his 45th ODI.

He was denied a share of the fastest World Cup century arguably only by his own honesty, after he answered in the negative when asked by umpire Ian Gould whether he had got a touch on a legside glance off Lasith Malinga in the 45th over.

Maxwell bought up his hundred in the next over, off 51 deliveries, one more than it took Ireland batsman Kevin O’Brien to decimate the England attack in Bangalore in 2011. However, it is the fastest ODI century by an Australian, beating James Faulkner’s 57-ball century against India in 2013.

The Victorian received a bear-hug from batting partner Shane Watson, who hit 67 runs in 41 balls on his return to the side after being dropped for the previous match against Afghanistan.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia post World Cup record score in win over Afghanistan

Australia posted a World Cup record total of 417-6 as they beat Afghanistan by 275 runs – the biggest winning margin in the tournament’s history.

World Cup Pool A, Perth:
Australia 417-6 (50 overs): Warner 178, Smith 95, Maxwell 88
Afghanistan 142 all out (50 overs): Mangal 33, Johnson 4-22
Australia won by 275 runs

David Warner hit 178 off 133 balls, Steve Smith scored 95 while Glenn Maxwell struck 88 in 39 deliveries in the Pool A encounter in Perth.

Afghanistan were then dismissed for 142, with Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc taking six wickets between them.

Australia’s score surpassed the 413-5 India made against Bermuda in 2007.

It continues the pattern of bat dominating ball in this tournament as the third 400 plus score achieved in the pool stages, following South Africa’s 408-5 and 411-4 against West Indies and Ireland respectively.

The winning margin beats the 257-run amount by which India beat Bermuda in Port of Spain in 2007, which was equalled five days ago by South Africa in their victory over West Indies in Sydney.

Australia’s total is their second-highest score in a one-day international, after their 434-4 against South Africa in 2006.

The ODI record score remains the 443-9 made by Sri Lanka against Netherlands in 2006.

Afghanistan elected to bowl having won the toss, and removed opener Aaron Finch in the third over, but they were dominated thereafter.

Warner played the aggressor, ably assisted by the more conservative Smith, with the pair adding 260 – a record Australian partnership for any wicket in ODIs – before the former was caught at mid-on by Mohammad Nabi off the bowling of Shapoor Zadran in the 38th over, just seven runs short of Shane Watson’s record Australian ODI score of 185.

If Afghanistan thought this would bring them some respite they were wrong as Maxwell took over, hitting six fours and seven sixes in a brutal 39-ball innings, during which he scored 88, as Smith increased his own scoring rate to reach 95 before driving one straight to Najibullah Zadran off Shapoor with seven overs remaining.

Despite the fall of three further wickets, returning captain Michael Clarke did not come out to bat, allowing James Faulkner (7), Mitchell Marsh (8) and Brad Haddin (20 not out) to help Australia to their record total.

As expected, Afghanistan were unable to cope with the Australian bowling attack, with their top order removed before they could reach three figures.

Johnson played a major role, having Usman Ghani, Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai and Hamid Hassan all caught and Josh Hazlewood picked up two wickets, while Clarke unexpectedly got in on the act with a five-over spell of off-spin, during which he had Samiullah Shenwari caught by Johnson at short fine leg.

Starc – who almost salvaged a win against New Zealand in a dramatic encounter in Auckland four days ago – came to the fore later in the innings with two wickets to help seal the record win.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: New Zealand beat Australia by one wicket

New Zealand survived a late collapse to beat Australia by one wicket in a thrilling World Cup Pool A game.

World Cup Pool A, Auckland
Australia 151 (32.2 overs): Haddin 43, Boult 5-27
New Zealand 152-9 (23.1 overs): McCullum 50, Williamson 45*, Starc 6-28
New Zealand won by one wicket

Chasing a meagre 152 to win, the Kiwis slipped from 131-4 to 146-9 as Mitchell Starc claimed 6-28.

However, Kane Williamson (45no) hit Pat Cummins for six to seal victory with 26.5 overs to spare in a wonderfully tense climax at Eden Park in Auckland.

Earlier, Australia lost eight wickets for 26 runs as they were bowled out for 151, with Trent Boult claiming 5-27.

“I was always going to try and hit a boundary at the end as I didn’t want to leave it too long,” Williamson told Test Match Special.

New Zealand, who have won all four of their group matches, need only one victory from their remaining two games – against Afghanistan and Bangladesh – to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

Tournament favourites Australia, meanwhile, have three points from their first three games, heading into Wednesday’s clash with Afghanistan in Perth.

Australia captain Michael Clarke, playing his first competitive international since December following hamstring surgery, said: “Our batting was horrendous, to put it mildly, but Mitchell Starc was a genius.”

This was only the sixth one-wicket win in World Cup history, although such a slender margin of victory appeared unlikely in the extreme as Brendon McCullum flayed a 21-ball fifty to lead the Kiwi pursuit.

Even after he fell in the eighth over to spark a collapse of three wickets in five balls – Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott were bowled by Starc either side of the interval – few doubted the outcome.

Williamson and Corey Anderson took New Zealand to within 21 runs of victory before Glenn Maxwell induced an ugly swipe from the left-hander that found only mid-on.

Starc, combining fast, full deliveries with well-directed bouncers, had an evasive Luke Ronchi caught behind off his glove, then Cummins accounted for a needlessly reckless Daniel Vettori.

New Zealand nerves were evident as Starc cleaned up Adam Milne and Tim Southee with successive deliveries, but Boult kept out the last two balls of the over and Williamson drove the first ball of the next over long-on to cap a remarkable game.

“My heart was racing at a million miles an hour when I went out there to bat. I’ve never been so nervous in my career,” Boult told Test Match Special.

Even Starc’s career-best return could not mask an inept Australia batting display that featured a precipitous collapse from 80-1 to 106-9.

While fellow left-arm Boult was the chief beneficiary en route to his best ODI figures, Vettori’s impact was crucial.

Introduced only six overs into an innings which began with a barrage of boundaries, the veteran left-arm spinner accounted for Shane Watson and Steve Smith either side of Tim Southee’s removal of David Warner for 34.

Vettori finished with 2-41, while Boult claimed five wickets for one run in 17 balls in front of a boisterous home crowd en route to his best ODI figures.

Even Brad Haddin’s pugnacious 43 in a last-wicket stand of 45 with Cummins – an Australia World Cup record – could not prevent Australia posting their lowest World Cup total batting first.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: England thrashed by Australia in first World Cup match

England were outclassed by an impressive Australia in a 111-run defeat on the opening day of the World Cup in Melbourne.

Cricket World Cup 2015, Melbourne:
Australia 342-9 (50 overs): Finch 135, Finn 5-71
England 231 (41.5 overs): Taylor 98*, Marsh 5-33
Australia won by 111 runs

Aaron Finch, dropped on nought by Chris Woakes in the first over, hammered 135 and Glenn Maxwell a 40-ball 66 to propel the co-hosts to 342-9.

Chasing the biggest score they had ever conceded in a one-day international against Australia never seemed likely for England and a top-order collapse further demonstrated the gulf in class.

Mitchell Marsh took 5-33 as England were bowled out for 231 despite an inventive unbeaten 98 from James Taylor.

Although an expected defeat by the tournament favourites does little damage to England’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals, the manner of the reverse should provide cause for concern.

They were substandard in the field, lacked control at the end of the Australia innings and were saved from their heaviest World Cup defeat by Taylor.

The most costly mistake was made by Woakes, dropping a simple chance above his head at square leg off James Anderson to reprieve Finch from only the fifth delivery.

The right-hander made the most of his let-off to dominate the innings through flicks off his pads, brutal pulls and powerful hits down the ground.

But the biggest disappointment was England’s death overs, which featured too few yorkers, too many slow bouncers and Maxwell’s clean striking.

Steven Finn at least claimed the first World Cup hat-trick by an England bowler from the final three balls of the innings, all skied catches.

Bowling first on a flat pitch in the hope the overnight rain would result in some assistance, England reduced Australia to 70-3 by Stuart Broad and Woakes finding movement on a good length.

The lesson was not learnt, though, and George Bailey was allowed to settle on a diet of short bowling, making 55 and rebuilding in a stand of 146 with Finch.

When Finch and Bailey fell, England looked like they might check Australia’s progress, but Maxwell provided the late carnage. The final 10 overs yielded 105 runs, including 76 off the last six.

A successful chase looked fanciful, but England’s tepid reply never had them in the game.

As Australia hit their lengths and held their catches to provide the visitors with a lesson, one by one, England’s batsmen holed out.

Moeen Ali started the rot by pulling Mitchell Starc to mid-on, before Marsh’s medium-pacers took over.

Gary Ballance – in the side for Ravi Bopara – flicked to short mid-wicket, Ian Bell cut to deep point, Joe Root top-edged and captain Eoin Morgan toe-ended a pull to diving wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for a third successive duck against Australia.

Steve Smith’s wonderful flying catch at short cover accounted for Jos Buttler and left England at a hopeless 92-6.

However, Taylor, dropped down the order to accommodate Ballance, did find a way to score by running hard and capitalising on what loose bowling was on offer.

He nudged towards a maiden century in the company of last man Anderson, but was given out lbw to Josh Hazlewood, only for the decision to be overturned on review.

But, from the same delivery, Anderson was run out and, amid confusing scenes as the TV replays were consulted, England’s fate was sealed.

The International Cricket Council’s later admitted that an error had been made and that the ball should have been declared dead, but the decision was incidental to a one-sided result.

On Friday they face co-hosts New Zealand, who beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs in the tournament opener in Christchurch earlier on Saturday.

Read more at BBC Sport

Cricket World Cup: Australia captain Clarke out of England’s World Cup opener

Michael Clarke will not be rushed back for Australia’s World Cup opener against England at the MCG on Saturday.

Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann has confirmed Clarke will instead stick to the original timeline for recovery from his hamstring surgery, and is expected to return against Bangladesh on February 21.

On Thursday morning, Clarke jogged and walked laps of the MCG in a light training session following Australia’s comprehensive win over the UAE, in which he top scored with 64 and bowled two overs. There could have been a temptation for Australia’s selectors to view that performance as evidence he was ready to play against England, but Lehmann said a cautious approach was best.

“Happy with the way he pulled up and really happy with his progress,” Lehmann said. “But we’re going to stick with the plan and he’ll play against Bangladesh. Really happy with the way it’s gone, the way he batted, ran, fielded, bowled, he ticked all the boxes. A good solid week [ahead] and get prepared for Bangladesh.”

Clarke still has some fitness tests to pass before he is cleared to return to the side, but his progress has impressed the team’s medical staff and he is not expected to be in doubt for the Bangladesh game at the Gabba.

“He’s very keen to play but we’ve got to make sure that when he gets back he’ll be ready to go, and he will be on Saturday [next] week,” Lehmann said. “We just had a chat. He’s respectful of what we’re trying to do, get him right. He’s a quality player and a quality leader. Whilst we would have loved to have him available for this game, we’re making sure he’s 100% and ready to go for Bangladesh.”

Clarke was not the only injured player jogging laps at the MCG on Thursday, with all-rounder James Faulkner also enjoying a light training run as he continues his recovery from a side strain. Faulkner has batted in the MCG nets this week but the timeline for his return is unclear. He has no chance of playing against England, and may be reserved for the second half of the tournament.

“He’s batting comfortably now, so that’s a good sign for us,” Lehmann said. “We’re just dictated by the medical team at the moment with that. Hopefully he’ll resume bowling very shortly. We’ll wait and see on that one.”

Faulkner’s absence means Australia will need their other seam-bowling all-rounders, Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh, to take on a greater bowling workload, but his finishing with the bat will also be greatly missed. Remarkably, Faulkner is currently ranked 22 on the ICC’s ODI batting rankings, and Lehmann said there was some chance he could play as a batsman only.

“We’ll look at those options, depending on where we’re playing and what the conditions are like, and who we’re playing is probably the key,” Lehmann said. “We’ll look at all of those.”

Read more at ESPN

Cricket: Former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee quits cricket

Australian fast bowler Brett Lee has announced his retirement from cricket.

He quit internationals in July 2012  as his country’s fourth-highest Test wicket-taker – with 310 in 76 matches – and has focused on Twenty20 cricket in recent years.

Lee, who took 380 one-day international wickets, made the announcement at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.

“It’s been an amazing and emotional 20 years and I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it,” said the 38-year-old.

He will see out the remainder of the Big Bash League with the Sydney Sixers – which could mean his final game coming next Thursday against Sydney Thunder.

Only Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee took more Test match wickets for Australia than Lee, who was nicknamed Bing.

He remains the joint leading wicket-taker for Australia in one-day internationals alongside McGrath.

“I’m excited and emotional, certainly happy that I’ve made the right decision,” Lee added.

“I didn’t bother doing the maths but 20 years is a lot of ice baths, a lot of training sessions, a lot balls bowled and a lot of flights – but it’s given me so many great memories.”

Lee was a central figure in the Australia sides that dominated world cricket in the 1990s and 2000s, and won the World Cup in 2003, as well as three of the four Ashes series he took part in.

“He has been an exceptional cricketer who gained fans around the world, not only for his electrifying pace and performances with the ball, but [for] the way that he played the game,” said Cricket Australia  chief executive James Sutherland.

Read more at BBC Sport