In the Cricket World Cup final in Melbourne:
New Zealand 183 all out (45 overs)
Australia 186 for 3 (33.1 overs)
I had one of those hyper-real dreams last night: the ones where you feel like you are a participant in all the crazy nonsense, rather than just an observer. And you’re trying to think and act through it all, so that when the alarm finally blares you’re exhausted and the colours of the dream feel saturated in your muscles.
So, as it turns out, the Black Caps winning the World Cup was just a hyper-real dream. For six weeks it sure felt like it might be real. Unfortunate that the spell had to broken by our Aussie neighbours poking us sharply in the ribs and yelling that it was time to wake up and smell the coffee.
The Aussies were good, very bloody good. In all facets, and right across the park. They put a foot on our throat from the the first over, and then leaned in, heavily. That’s what great teams do in finals.
Which is not to say the Black Caps were disgraced, simply outplayed by the better team. I am sure many of them will have ‘what ifs’ to play in their minds for the rest of their lives: Guptill and Williamson and Anderson in particular for their dismissals. But that’s cricket, that’s sport, and they should also hold close the other memories of this tournament.
For me, the abiding memory of the match and the tournament will be Brendon McCullum’s smile. He was positive to the last, encouraging his bowlers, directing his field, throwing himself about on the grass, and jogging over to shake the hand of Aussie captain Michael Clarke when he was dismissed with victory in sight.
McCullum has shown the very best of sportsmanship, in victory and defeat, enjoying the game as a game, and along the way weaving a dream that lingers in the bones.