The Australian Open Men have won their 11th World Cup in decisive fashion, to add another chapter to their storied indoor cricket history. New Zealand’s future also looks bright after they won the Under-22 Men’s division for the first time and New Zealand’s first title at an Open’s World Cup. Meanwhile, the sport continues to develop as two Asian Men’s sides made the semi-finals for the first time in the tournament’s history.
For full results, standings, scorecards and statistics, visit the official Indoor Cricket World Cup website.
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The Big Picture
Australia continued their dominance of international indoor cricket at the Open’s level but New Zealand also emerged with their first World Cup title as the 11th edition of tournament came to a thrilling conclusion on grand final day at the Casey Stadium, Melbourne last weekend.
After five years of waiting the World Cup was finally back. 108 games. Eight countries. Eight days. Triumphs. Heartbreak. Upsets. Close Calls. Third Balls. Mankads. Strategy. Sportsmanship. Gamesmanship. TV Umpires. HIAs. Blood Assessments. Most importantly, some change and a coming together of nations from around the world. This Indoor Cricket World Cup had it all and the last day of competition proved to be no different as the champions were decided in each division at Casey Stadium in Melbourne.
The Australian Open Men won their 11th world title with a commanding win over New Zealand in the final. This ensured that Australia remains as the only country to win the World Cup at the Open level. Earlier in the day it was New Zealand’s turn to win their first World Cup title, as they triumphed in the Under-22 Men’s division.
South Africa also won the Men’s Plate title with a close win over UAE in the final but will be disappointed not to have made the Cup stage, having done so back in 2017, while the UAE will leave having shown some promise but with a lot more work to do. However, one of the striking stories coming out of the tournament was the emergence of India as an indoor cricketing nation as they made the preliminary final, joining Sri Lanka as the second Asian nation to make the semi-finals in the process.
Emerging Cricket recaps how the Men’s finals went down in Melbourne:
*Team mentioned first denotes the team that batted first
New Zealand 57* (Hyndman 19, Barry 15, Gardner 12, Ryan 3/-9, Floros 1/3, Bennett 3/4) lost to Australia 120 (Dearness 20, Perkins 17, Floros 16, Gardner 0/11, Crook 1/12, Watson 0/12) by 63 runs
Umpire: Andrew Hall-Villiers (Australia)
Player of the Match: Luke Ryan (Australia)
Player of the Tournament: Matthew Floros (Australia)
Australia again showed why they are the best in this version of their game, after sealing a comprehensive 63-run win over New Zealand in the final. A scintillating display in the field had New Zealand on the backfoot from the very first ball, and despite some solid work in the middle pairs, the Australians came roaring back in the last four overs to restrict New Zealand to a modest 57 in their 16 overs. Set with a small target, the chase was well paced as they crossed past New Zealand’s total by the 9th over and did not look back, putting the result beyond doubt and ensure that they remain the only Open Men’s champions in indoor cricket to date.
It also marked Brenton Brien’s first World Cup win as coach of the Open Men, after taking over from seven-time World Cup winner Ross Gregory when he stepped down following their win in 2017. New Zealand meanwhile suffered their third straight grand final defeat to Australia, following their losses in Wellington in 2014 and Dubai in 2017.
The lead-up to the game had seen the teams share one win apiece. New Zealand set the tone for the tournament in their opening night fixture with a 75-58 victory and this spurred the Australians into gear for the rest of the week. Their 104-76 win in the major semi-final against the Kiwis ensured they went straight into the final and saw New Zealand have to make their way there against a tenacious Indian side in the preliminary final, coming away 115-77 victors.
Ryan sets the tone as Australia ground New Zealand with excellent fielding display
The final two days of matches for the tournament saw the use of a TV umpire for run out and stumping decisions, as an extra layer for those close calls. New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat first, the first time they had done so in the last three finals. With Matt Latham out for Mitchell Gardner, Jesse Ryder went out of his normal middle-order slot to opening pair with skipper Victor Davies. Australia was unchanged from their semi-final win.
Player of the final Luke Ryan struck immediately with a fierce pull from Davies off him high into the leg side springs laying back nicely for Rob Fitzgerald on the three-line to throw down the stumps on the very first ball. A third-ball dismissal followed by Ryder and New Zealand were -10 after the first over. From then on, the opening pair had to battle and despite a big seven down the ground by Davies off Vinesh Bennett, Fitzgerald bagged two wickets in the last over as the pair finished with just 3.
Knowing a score of 75 would be needed to compete, the next two pairs worked hard to bring the score towards the total. Michael Barry and Stacy Hyndman put on 34 under high pressure, while Mitchell Gardner and Corey Perrett made a further 23, as New Zealand consolidated losing just one wicket in that eight over period. That momentum was stunted however once player of the tournament Matthew Floros effected a run out in the 13th over, and Josh Dreaver and Bennett taking a further three wickets between them. Darrin Crook and Todd Watson fell victim to Australia’s fielding as they took all their chances – three run-outs happened across the pair – and could only complete their partnership on -3.
Australia surpass target in ninth over as Kiwis struggle for breakthroughs
57 was always going to be below par and New Zealand needed a good start to keep Australia at bay. Unfortunately, they could contain a solid start from Bennett and Fitzgerald who made 23 under tight bowling from the Kiwis which included 11 dot balls. The base had been set up and New Zealand let Australia away with captain Lyle Teske and his wicket-keeping understudy Kieran Perkins piling on 12 runs from the 6th over from Barry to make 32 and take the score to within striking distance of New Zealand’s total after just eight overs.
The result was academic after that with Ryan and Josh Dreaver adding 29 despite the loss of Australia’s only wicket to Crook, and Floros and Dearness finishing it off in style with 36, the highest pair of the match, to seal a deserved win for the Australians and cement their place at the top of world indoor cricket.
While New Zealand lost 10 wickets across their 16 overs, Australia also only bowled 6 runs in extras (two runs conceded for each wide or no-ball bowled). In contrast New Zealand could only muster the one wicket across the Australian’s innings, with over 20 runs conceded in extras.
It capped off a disappointing finish for an otherwise solid tournament for New Zealand, hoping to claim their first world title in the Open division. They finished the round-robin unbeaten, with notably close wins including those against South Africa, India and the UAE, and would have fancied their chances coming into the major semi-final and grand final. For Australia, it was more of the same, with their veteran experience and big game players winning the day and keeping their unbeaten record going for another three years.
Other Finals Series Results:
UAE 91 (Kumara 19, Sasanka 15, Malik 14, Olivier 2/-4, Erasmus 1/8, Brink 1/9) lost to South Africa 94 (Olivier 18, Greyling 17, Crawshaw 14) by 3 runs
Umpire: Michael Guest (Australia)
Cup Preliminary Final
New Zealand 115 (Crook 26, Davies 21, Barry 14, Bhaskar 1/6, Aziz 1/7, Vayyaprath 0/12) defeated India 77 (Aries 22, Bhaskar 16, Rai 12, Crook 2/2, Hyndman 1/2, Watson 2/3) by 38 runs to advance to the final
Cup Major Semi-Final
Australia 104 (Dearness 20, Dreaver 18, Bennett 17, Watson 1/3, Crook 1/8, Davies 1/11) defeated New Zealand 76 (Crook 20, Watson 14, Davies 10, Ryan 2/-1, Fitzgerald 2/1, Bennett 1/6) by 28 runs to advance directly to the final
Cup Minor Semi-Final
India 109 (Vijay 23, Afroz 16, Mohassin 14, Rodrigo 1/5, Solomons 0/12, Nilantha 0/12) defeated Sri Lanka 69 (Rodrigo 14, Solomons 13, Fonseka 11, Bhaskar 3/-4, Namsheed 1/2, Rai 1/8) by 40 runs to advance to the preliminary final
Final Round-Robin Standings (after 10 matches): AUS 58, NZL 55, IND 37, SRL 37, RSA 34, ENG 33, UAE 22, SGP 6
New Zealand 95 (Scoble 17, Craig 14, McCarthy 12, Verstegen 2/3, D’Rozario 2/7, Larance 0/11) defeated Australia 56 (Langdon 14, Larance 13, Styles 13, Millard 2/-5, Amaral 2/-1, McCarthy 2/5) by 39 runs
Umpire: Andrew Potts (Australia)
Player of the Match: Bayley Latter (New Zealand)
Player of the Tournament: Ryan Jackson (New Zealand)
Earlier in the day, New Zealand recorded their first World Cup title win and did so in emphatic fashion with a 39-run win over Australia in the final. The Kiwis had a rest day before the final after beating Australia 112-82 in round-robin play and qualifying first. Their direct entry into the final saw Australia having to beat South Africa in the final, which they did so comfortably by 54 runs.
Solid batting effort sees New Zealand set intriguing target
New Zealand had a heavy pace bowling attack but also showed their prowess with the bat as they attempted to set a target for the Australians. Player of the final Bayley Latter and Liam McCarthy lost a wicket to a third-ball play in their last over but still finished on 24 to open things up for New Zealand. Captain Micah Conroy and wicket keeper Regan Craig consolidated with a further 25. Craig made up for a run out by hitting Oliver Styles to the back net for seven the very next ball (six runs plus one for running in indoor cricket).
Matthew Scoble and player of the tournament Ryan Jackson continued the steady momentum with 26 and despite wickets to Jaidyn Teske and skipper Jonathan D’Rozario in the last four overs, Curtis Millard and Harlin Amaral were able to make 20 and get New Zealand to a competitive 95. All told, Australia would claim seven wickets, take one of four third-ball opportunities, and concede at least one seven in three of the pairs.
Millard, Latter double strikes take New Zealand on course to big win
Despite a much vaunted target to chase, both teams would not have been unhappy at the halfway stage, with Australia’s batting matching up against New Zealand’s bowling line-up. Scoble made an early breakthrough in the first over, but Styles and Jake Langdon recovered to set the tone for the chase with 27.
Latter then broke the game wide open, having Blair Overton stumped and bowled on consecutive deliveries in the sixth over. Tight overs either side of that by Millard and Jackson were followed up by a wicket to Conroy as Overton and D’Rozario could not add any further runs to the total.
69 to win off eight overs was still achievable but Millard then pushed the result New Zealand’s way, bowling out Daniel Van Hees on the first ball of the ninth over, before he had Jacob Verstegen run out. Suddenly Australia were back on 20 after nine overs and needing more than 12 runs per over to win the game. The pair finished with 11 and it left the last pair of Teske and Brock Larance with 58 to get off the last four overs. Justifiably they had to bat with aggression, and hit 22 off the first two overs, including 17 off Scoble, but Amaral’s two wickets in the 15th sealed the match and the title for the New Zealanders.
Since the age-group (Under-20, 21 or 22) divisions were first introduced at the main World Cup in 2014, this is the first time that New Zealand has won a title (with Australia winning these divisions at the 2014 and 2017 World Cups). It also marked an underrated achievement of three World titles for New Zealand head coach Paul Anderson (to go with his triumphs of Over-30 and Over-35 coaching titles at the Masters level).
Other Finals Series Results:
Cup Preliminary Final
Australia 140 (Styles 23, Verstegen 22, Larance 21, Fourie 0/15, Cloete 1/15, Van Der Kruit 1/15) defeated South Africa 86 (Parkinson 19, Van Der Kruit 18, Tocknell 16, Styles 2/0, Langdon 3/1, Verstegen 2/4) by 54 runs to advance to the final
Final Round-Robin Standings (after 10 matches): NZ 46, AUS 44, RSA 13
India flourish, Asian Nations make history
India’s ascent to the top four for the first time would not have been tipped at the start of the tournament, but the team carrying injuries and suffering from fatigue played the most determined cricket throughout the week, and it led to them to being just one game short of a World Cup final.
Rewinding back to 2017, the Indians were playing off in the Plate section of the tournament, while their Asian counterparts Sri Lanka made the top four and a minor semi-final berth. Due to their ability to smartly claim several skins in their matches (partnership wins at one point apiece), the Sri Lankans claimed another top four finish this time, but with India in front of them, meaning two Asian countries made the semi-finals of an Indoor Cricket World Cup for the first time.
A change in approach, an improvement in their game
Their “unstructured” brand of cricket, as former New Zealand player Guy Coleman referred to it to me as, caused problems for many teams. Spinners aplenty, a willingness to hit the ball hard along the ground, and improvements in their game management, awareness and skill, saw both teams go past some of their more fancied counterparts from recent World Cups, including South Africa and England.
The Indians catapulted themselves into the preliminary final after beating Sri Lanka by 40 runs in the minor semi-final. This came after almost completing their first win against New Zealand, with that game coming down to the last four overs and the Indians in front at the time. They fell again to the Kiwis in the preliminary final, but took many positives away from the campaign, making the indoor cricket world stand up and take notice in the process.
Indian determination to succeed trumps injuries, fatigue in big tournament
That they got this far despite their obstacles made it all the more impressive. They lost former skipper and key player Khizer Ahmed to a torn ACL in their opening match against Australia Under-22, before captain Girish Gopal suffered a potential torn rotator cuff a one game later. A travelling squad of 12 was required to play many games over a short period of time without any real rotation as a result, and without the experience of playing longer tournaments previously. Changes were made to the batting pairs and it even saw Gopal unselfishly play with his bad shoulder in their last round-robin match against South Africa, when their qualification was a sure thing, in order to give his team mates a rest before their minor semi-final.
Talking about their performance, squad member Daivik Rai told Emerging Cricket it had fuelled belief in his side. “Our World Cup performance has given us further belief that we can compete against any opposition for a sustained period of time. The next step in our nation’s indoor cricket journey is to know this our standard now, be consistent and sustain such performances in every future tournament”, said Rai.
Both teams will leave with their heads held high, hoping the gap might be just starting to close between them and the big two, until the next World Cup in 2025. For now, Australia and New Zealand continue to reap the rewards of their success.