29 March 2015

A long time between visits

It's worth remembering as we look forward to the grand Cricket World Cup final tonight just how out-of-touch Australian cricket is with their New Zealand neighbours:

  • In the time since New Zealand last played an ODI at the MCG, there have been 15 ODIs at the ground, 12 of which involved Australia. 
  • Since the last time New Zealand played an ODI in Australia (a no-result on 13 February 2009) Australia has played 63 ODIs at home
  • That total includes 16 matches against England (of which Australia won 14), another 16 against Sri Lanka, 10 against the West Indies, 7 against India, 6 against Pakistan, and 5 against South Africa; there were also one-off pool games against Scotland and Afghanistan as part of the current World Cup. 
  • Before the stirring one-wicket victory of New Zealand over Australia in Auckland during the pool matches, Australia's captain Michael Clarke had not played New Zealand in a one-dayer since the previous World Cup in India.

A total of 143 one-day internationals have been played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but the last time New Zealand was invited to play an ODI there was more than six years ago. That match, on Waitangi Day 2009, saw New Zealand defeat Australia by six wickets: Australia was put in first and only managed 225/5, and then New Zealand knocked off the total with ease, having six wickets and seven balls to spare. Naturally, the parochial panel gave the man of the match award to Australian captain Michael Clarke for his 98 not out, despite being on the losing side. That was the last time New Zealand played at the MCG; six of the current playing XI scheduled to face Australia in tonight's World Cup final played in that 2009 match.

If that's not motivation enough for New Zealand to remind Australia that it doesn't own the game, I don't know what is. Perhaps there's also the additional frisson of just imagining what the Australian fans' faces will look like if New Zealand snatches this most unlikely of victories.

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