Melbourne: With New Zealand at the cusp of World Cup glory, former captain Martin Crowe has said the Black Caps will have to dig deep into their resources if they have to beat Australia as it will be a “high emotion” title clash between the Trans-Tasman rivals.
New Zealand go unbeaten into the title clash in Melbourne on Sunday and even though the Brendon McCullum-led side has won all their eight matches on home shores, playing in Australia would certainly test their true mettle.
Crowe believes that Australia will certainly be a tough opposition to match.
“It’s the unknown. Nobody played at MCG, probably only Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, I am not sure. But they will have to dig in their reservoir of resources, their own own resilience and that’s where they are playing their game from,” Crowe told PTI in an exclusive interview ahead of the World Cup final.
“I don’t think the grounds are going to have too much of a difference but up against Australia it’s certainly going to be a high fever emotion in cricket’s silicon valley,” he said.
The Kiwis have got the better of Australia in the league stages when they edged past the Kangaroos by 1 wicket in a low-scoring thriller at Eden Park, Auckland, but Crowe still feels that the Micheal Clarke-led side is a hard nut to crack.
“I mean Australia bring a very powerhouse kind of game. It’s a lot of brawn and they are very bullish about it,” said Crowe.
It will also be a battle of pacers when Trent Boult, leading the wickets pack in the showpiece event with 21 from eight matches, and company, lock horns with the likes of Mitchell Starc (20 wickets), Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood.
Crowe has a lot faith in the ability of Kiwi fast bowlers.
“New Zealand have got a lot more skill in the fast bowling department, with their fast swing,” he said.
Despite the presence of spinners like Daniel Vettori and Glenn Maxwell in the respective sides, Crowe opines spin will not play much of a part at the MCG.
“Spin played a huge part in this World Cup, but MCG is a big ground and I don’t think spin will dominate proceedings. And even if it does the New Zealand side have been able to meet up all the challenges so far,” Crowe said.
Remind him of the 1992 World Cup campaign, when they lost to eventual winners Pakistan in the semi-finals, Crowe says that cricket has come a long way in 25 years.
“Different time, different era, different conditions, different rules, different everything. The game is played at a much faster pace, the rules favour the batsman. So it’s not possible to compare the fact that they have gone one further than 1992.
They have broken the semi-final barrier and now they are on the verge of something pretty special,” said the former batsman.
An imaginative leader who maximised his team’s potential and resources by thoughtful captaincy, Crowe chose McCullum ahead of India’s Mahendra SIngh Dhoni when it came to modern-day ODI leadership.
“I would agree on McCullum as he has brought in a whole new style of captaincy. Though totally different brand of captaincy. Dhoni is very consistent, he has been a very shrewd captain. A very gifted captain under pressure and a fine player in the middle.
“But Brendon brings a different style, he does the batting as well, he is a lot more ‘going hard’ kind of a leader. He’s a lot more refreshing. So I will back him in comparison to MS (Dhoni), but not by much,” Crowe concluded.