World Cup hope for future

8:49 am on 30 March 2015

As Australia marched relentlessly, inevitably towards a fifth Cricket World Cup title, yesterday's final became a war of attrition for the average couch-bound Kiwi.

Whose optimism would last longer?

There were some who gave up hope five balls in when Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum was dismantled by the hypersonic Mitchell Starc.

The man whose whizz-bang pyrotechnics have laid the platform for so many innings just couldn't read the swing or match the pace of the Aussie.

Brendon McCullum after being bowled by Starc.

Brendon McCullum after being bowled by Starc. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The wicket was clean, brutal, and the game's defining moment.

But patience is not McCullum's style.

As a captain and leader, his blitzkrieg style is key to why New Zealand hopes had so far to plummet.

Glenn Maxwell and the Australian team celebrate after getting the wicket of Martin Guptill.

Glenn Maxwell and the Australian team celebrate after getting the wicket of Martin Guptill. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Others gave up on the hashtag #BacktheBlackCaps when Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson fell within an over of each other to complete a top order collapse.

Having won a rare toss, McCullum made the right move to bat first, yet his decision somehow felt like it gave New Zealand more potential to fail spectacularly.

Reeling on 39 for three, that fear became real.

Hope was methodically restored by the nation's new unkempt hero Grant Elliott, whose calmness personified his coach, Mike Hesson.

Grant Elliott plays a cover during the CWC final.

Grant Elliott plays a cover. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Save for Martin Guptill's unbeaten double century, Elliot's 83 from 82 deliveries was perhaps the finest knock of the tournament by a man in black.

The side's resurgence over the past two years from the doldrums of the sport to worthy finalists has been built on shared success.

But with five zeroes plaguing the scorecard, last night was very much a one-man show.

After Ross Taylor's plodding spell came to an end, New Zealand wickets tumbled fast.

Optimism was hard to come by as the side was skittled for 183. There was bargaining - if only they could have hit another 30, 40 runs - then depression.

Whatever hope was left in the tank was slowly eroded by the bullish David Warner, the boyish Steve Smith, and the man who had very deliberately placed himself directly under the Melbourne Cricket Ground's spotlight - the retiring Michael Clarke.

What should have been death by firing squad became that by 1000 cuts.

The Black Caps failed, but on a sleepless night's reflection, can their tournament be described as anything less than a success? They swept the country into a fervour and turned non-believers into die-hards, if temporarily.

It just would have to be Australia, wouldn't it?

Australia celebrate winning the ICC Cricket World Cup Final.

Australia celebrate winning the ICC Cricket World Cup Final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The best team won, granted, but they know it, too.

Three and a half months out from another Ashes series, England must be quaking.

Afterwards, McCullum chose to look ahead.

"Hopefully the style of cricket and the things that we've been able to implement with this team and the brand that we're trying to play will remain and develop over the next sort of while," he said.

Trent Boult takes a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Australian batsman Aaron Finch.

Trent Boult takes a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Australian batsman Aaron Finch. Photo: AFP

"Hopefully that will then filter down to some of our domestic cricket, as well, and we'll see some youngsters start to play the game and try and play it the same way that we've tried to operate through this World Cup."

Cricket doesn't begin and end every four years.

In May, the Black Caps travel to England for two test matches, five one-dayers, and a twenty20, then to South Africa to face wounded beasts.

Under McCullum and Hesson, halcyon days lie ahead.

"It won't stop at the end of the World Cup. We've still got a lot of hard work to do to achieve what we want in this game, and where we want to stand in international cricket, but we've made a good start," said McCullum.

New Zealand cricket has more hope for the future than ever before.

Why drop the hashtag now?

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