So, there we were, down to the wire at last. Only two teams left: the highly fancied New South Wales Blues, and the rank outsiders from Trinidad & Tobago. Would it be yet another tale of Australian dominance, or a Caribbean carnival?
T&T got off to the best possible start by wining the toss and electing to field. They have chased targets very well in previous games, including their win against NSW earlier in the tournament. They also bowled very well. At one point NSW were 83-6 and looking very shaky indeed. It needed a big match player to step up, and fortunately for the Sydney team they had one. Brett Lee played the innings of his life, scoring 48 to help his side to a final total of 159.
Even then T&T looked favorites. They had chased more than that against NSW before. They had chased more than that against the Cobras last night. All they had to do was keep their cool.
Of course NSW do have close to a full Australian test attack. They have Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz, and above all Brett Lee, who has been the standout bowler in the tournament. Lee took 2-10 in his opening two overs, which were actually amongst his worst figures so far.
Fortunately for T&T, no bowler is allowed more than 4 overs in a game, and with Lee rested they set about rebuilding. They kept up with the rate reasonably well, but continued to lose wickets. That brought in their main strike batsman, Kieron Pollard, who immediately set about the bowling. Before long T&T were ahead on run rate and and starting to look good for the win.
And then, disaster. Pollard slightly mistimed a shot off Haurtiz, and who should be there on the boundary to pocket the catch but Brett Lee. From then on T&T were done for, and Stuart Clark masterfully cleaned up the tail to register a 41 run win.
So it is business as usual for cricket: the Australians are World Champions again. But the T&T team should not be disappointed. They performed well above expectations and go home well rewarded. Pollard got a check for $25,000 for hitting the most 6s (home runs) in the tournament, and the team as a whole won $1.3m. That will go a long way in a small island economy. It is great to see Caribbean cricketers strutting their stuff on the world stage again.
As for the tournament, it was a great success. Aside from the rather dodgy Delhi pitch, everything went according to plan. Lalit Modi was beaming with happiness at the presentation ceremony. He said he wants this tournament to rival that other Champions’ League – the one run by UEFA for some silly sport played with the feet. Given the entertainment value that the past two weeks have provided, I think he has a good chance.
And finally, a word about the man of the moment. Everyone knew that Brett Lee is one of the finest bowlers in the world. It was his absence through injury that meant that Australia lost the Ashes in England this summer. When he was fit again the Aussies destroyed England in the one-day series. Today Lee starred with the ball, but was even more of a hero with the bat. He was also named Man of the Series.
He’s a genuinely multi-talented guy. He’s well aware that the career of a professional sportsman is short and has other strings to his bow. He has his own rock band. He has starred in a Bollywood movie. And he has co-written a series of novels for young boys. Naturally they are about cricket, but they are also time travel stories. So Lee is a bona fide science fiction writer.
There will doubtless be a lot of singing in the NSW dressing room tonight, and possibly a few beers drunk as well. To help them out, through the magic of YouTube, here are Brett Lee’s Six and Out rocking along to “Cyclone Sally”.