A German visits the Cricket World Cup final | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 29.03.2015
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A German visits the Cricket World Cup final

German cricket fan Pierre Winkler headed all the way to Melbourne just for the Cricket World Cup final. He was surprised that, despite their resounding win, the home fans didn't seem that fussed about the result.

The first thing you notice at the cricket: being a spectator involves constantly getting up and sitting down, letting people through and saying "excuse me." Although a German normally only watches sport for a couple of hours, a World Cup game takes as long as a normal workday.

For a European that's a long time to be sitting down. But here, at the world's biggest cricket ground, the fans pass the time relating anecdotes of their last holiday or talking about their annoying neighbour. The stadium is sort of like a prolonged café stop for 93,013 people.

The stadium itself, the world's biggest by capacity, is also a treat to behold. The MCG (or "the G" as it's known here) is a symbol of sports-mad Australia and oozes history. As you walk in, you pass by wooden boards filled with names and records of past cricketers and Australian Rules footballers. Everywhere you look, black and white photos of moustachioed sportsmen stare down at you.

Brendon McCullum

Brendon McCullum is one of New Zealand's most dangerous batsmen, but was out for a duck in Melbourne

But to the cricket: the final starts brilliantly for the home team. Three New Zealand batsmen are dismissed in the first hour. "Hell no!", exclaims Matt, a Blackcaps supporter, as fans dressed in green and gold celebrate around him. Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has just lost his wicket.

Matt, like McCullum, comes from Dunedin on New Zealand's south island. There, the tatooed McCullum is a hero. His hard-hitting batting was meant to lead New Zealand to the title.

"He's such a great guy," says Matt. "When he's batting he destroys his opponents, but otherwise he's got a lot of courage."

An Australian in front of us turns around, "He looked pretty damn scared out there just then."

A special rivalry

Australia and New Zealand have a long history of sporting match-ups. In both rugby codes (union and league) the games between the two countries are legendary.

Ahead of the game the usual derogatory insult of "sheepshagger" could be heard from the Australians, about their Trans-Tasman neighbors. The country's tabloids also tried to fire up the battle a bit. And jokes were aplenty at the MCG from both sides, often about not being able to understand each other's accent.

New Zealand fans at MCG

New Zealand's fans were few and far between at the sold-out MCG

But ultimately the rivalry between the countries is not that nasty. Australia's captain Michael Clarke and Brendon McCullum insisted even ahead of the group stage game how well they got on with each other. When Australia plays England, both fans and players can get too boisterous. Against India, it's the same story. But in this World Cup final, there is respect from the sidelines. Good shots from the New Zealanders are applauded by the Australians in the crowd.

"The best thing would be to win a World Cup final against England," says Phil, a white-bearded local, whose Australian jersey has seen better days. "But they are so bad that I don't think I'll be around to see that."

"To watch us win here at the MCG would be amazing," he adds. "In 1992 I couldn't afford a ticket, now I saved for a year."

The passion of the fans is obvious, but, bad behavior isn't tolerated. People acting in an insulting manner are ejected from the stadium mid-game and can also be taken to court. An SMS is all that is needed to report someone: the number to text is regularly shown on the big screen.

Australia way too strong

The game itself can be summarized in one sentence: New Zealand just didn't make enough runs. After the Blackcaps struggle to 183, it seems like the game is already over even before the Australians start their chase. The pressure seems to have gotten to the guests.

Australia's cricketers celebrate their World Cup victory

Four out of five: Australia has dominated the last 15 years of World Cup cricket

"I was really looking forward to an exciting game," says Australia fan, Dave. "But the New Zealanders are way too nervous."

The visitors start strongly enough in the field, after all, they have nothing to lose. But in the end the gap between the two sides is obvious. At 9.05 p.m. local time, Australia's Steve Smith crunches the ball to the boundary to pass New Zealand's score and bring the game to an end almost an hour early.

The fans are happy, but keep themselves under control. Imagine if Germany had won the 2006 football World Cup at home in Berlin? The party probably would have still been going on until their success in Brazil last year. But here, it's cricket, so things are different.

Instead, they stand up, stretch their legs and applaud warmly: the country is satisfied. "Well done, lads," I hear. It's not quite the party atmosphere you might expect. As the fans head out of the stadium, one busker obviously does feel like celebrating. Beside his hat is a sign saying, "Need money for beer."

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