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The A Team

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Four time champions Australia reached a new level of supremacy with a convincing seven wicket win over arch rivals New Zealand, in the cricket world cup final. The success on home soil for Australia means that they have won cricket’s top prize on five separate occasions.

The fitting tribute for the Australian captain Michael Clarke some may say, Clarke a few days earlier stated that this tournament will be his last as he is set to retire. Another factor which makes the world cup win all that more special for the Aussies is that of the sad passing of Phil Hughes earlier this year.

Hughes the 26 year old who rose to stardom by hitting successive centuries earlier in his career, sadly lost his life after never regaining consciousness after being hit by a bouncer in Sydney – many of Australia’s players have said that they want to win the world cup in his honour .

Emotionally there was something riding on this game for New Zealand and Daniel Vettori. Thirty six year old Vettori who has been a brilliant servant for the New Zealand game is rumoured to be retiring from one day internationals, after the world cup – so Vettori will no doubt be wanting to go out on a high note. The left arm spinner was captain of the national side from 2007-2011 – and would have looking to be a leader in the bowling department for New Zealand here.

This eagerly anticipated clash between the two Tasman rivals saw New Zealand play away from home for the first time in the tournament. The Kiwis who have won all their games in their run to the final, included Matt Henry for the injured Adam Milne.

Australia came into this one unchanged – and with the run they’re on why change?

In the build up to this match much was made of winning the toss and batting first. The visitors New Zealand won the toss and batted first – but that decision very quickly seemed to be the wrong one.

The Kiwis were no doubt looking to put runs on the board to defend like they did in the quarter final against West Indies, however in this game the Black Caps were blown away.

Brendan McCullum so often the slayer of attacks this time departed for a three ball duck, the New Zealand captain sadly wasn’t able to produce the innings which blew the South African attack away in the semi- finals.

If the quarter final against West Indies is to go by, that didn’t matter – but unfortunately for the Kiwis Kane Williamson and Martin Guptil departed soon after their captain did. Those dismissals brought semi final hero Grant Elliott and the experienced Ross Taylor to the crease.

Elliott and Taylor after the early carnage were charged with rebuilding the New Zealand innings – and that they did, all be it in painstaking fashion. The fourth wicket pair put on 111 – and the platform looked set for the Kiwis’ power hitters such as Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi.

Sadly though for New Zealand the end of that fourth wicket partnership sparked a massive collapse as seven wickets fell for 33 runs. The Kiwis after that batting collapse crumbled to 183 all out.

Before the game the Melbourne pitch was adjudged to be a batters paradise – but in the end the MCG was anything but. The pace and bounce was just to much for the Black Caps to deal with as Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner took three wickets apiece.

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Any hopes of the rematch of the two Tasman rivals being a low scoring thriller like the match in the group stages were dashed very quickly. Although New Zealand’s bowler of the tournament – and maybe the bowler of the tournament Trent Boult had Aaron Finch caught and bowled for two, you felt the Aussies had enough quality in their batting to knock the runs off.

Finch’s opening partner David Warner was able to make a near run a ball 45 – but even when Warner was second out with the score on 63, the winning line seemed near. The dismissal of the Aussie opener brought Australia’s captain Michael Clarke and maybe the person to replace him as captain – Steven Smith.

Although they may have started off slowly Smith and Clarke improved their scoring. In particular Michael Clarke seized upon on anything short and with some brilliant drives and lovely cut shots – the stage seemed set for Australia’s captain to guide them home.

However there was time for New Zealand to take one more wicket – and it was that of Michael Clarke. The Australian captain was bowled by Matt Henry with just nine needed, that wicket was prolonging the inevitable -and the inevitable duly came as Steven Smith who hit a record fifth consecutive fifty, pulled Henry to hit the winning runs.

Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard To Leave At The End Of The Season To Move To LA Galaxy

Liverpool captain will leave the Anfield side at the end of the season, ending a 25 year association with The Reds

Liverpool captain will leave the Anfield side at the end of the season, ending a 25 year association with The Reds

For many football fans, the words Liverpool and Steven Gerrard would tend to go hand and hand – but not not for much longer. The 34 year old Liverpool captain announced this week that he is to end his 25 year association with the Reds and move to American club LA Galaxy.

Steven George Gerrard who has been at Anfield since the age of nine, will no doubt leave a big ‘hole’ in the Liverpool squad after ‘carrying’ the Liverpool team on it’s own it could be argued. What can be argued is Stevie G’s desire to succeed. The soon to be former Liverpool captain does boast of an impressive medal collection, Uefa Champions League, UEFA Cup (as is was known back then), FA Cup and League Cup medals.

It’s quite an impressive medal collection – but the lack of premier league medal will always be a ‘black mark’ if there was one on an impressive Liverpool career which spans 16 years. I am sure there wouldn’t have been many people in the football world, who would have thought at the time that a young 18 year old midfielder player from Whiston would turn out to be such a Liverpool icon.

The Whiston born midfielder made his debut in 1998 – but would have to wait until 2000 to become a permanent fixture in the Liverpool side. Three years later in 2003, Gerrard was made club captain replacing club legend Sami Hypia.

Steven Gerrard’s undoubted ability was always going to attract admiring glances from rival clubs and through out Gerrard’s career that was always the case with speculation always linking the Liverpool captain to clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid – but Gerrard remained very loyal.

The lack of premier league title on his impressive list of honours did tempt Gerrard to leave Liverpool for Chelsea – but the Reds’ captain ended up staying at Anfield. What made the Liverpool captain decide that his future lies elsewhere was the more frequent appearances on the subs bench this season – and how he was getting managed. What might make the Liverpool’s captain more painful was that he 34 year old has come out and said he might have stayed at Anfield if a deal was offered sooner. The Anfield clubs board only offered Gerrard a new deal in November.

The FA Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon, was an example that the 34 year old still has the ability to contribute in the key games, which has been something that he has done time and time again over the years. It could be argued ‘ it’s only Wimbledon ‘ but if Gerrard hadn’t made his contribution in the third round game against Liverpool, then I am not 100% sure we would be talking about Liverpool being in the fourth round draw of the FA cup.

It’s a real shame that a player of Gerrard’s calibre is leaving these shores – but what Liverpool’s loss is most definitely LA Galaxy’s gain because at 34 Steven Gerrard still has the ability to perform at the highest level.