If the loss of Daniel Vettori was one of the major factors that set New Zealand back in the final, the other was the performance of stand-in skipper Brendon McCullum. A quick duck and a crucial dropped catch meant McCullum could well be blaming himself for the way things went.
“Losing Dan was a huge blow,” McCullum said. “He has been instrumental in the way he has performed both with bat and ball, and also his captaincy. He is a huge player that we all look to for not only performance but also inspiration. To lose him was disappointing.
“The dropped catch was obviously crucial. The score was roughly 40 at that time. If I had grabbed it, it would have been three for 40. Had we got another couple of quick wickets at 5 for 100, we certainly would have been right on top at that stage. Any time you drop a catch is crucial, and that certainly was as well. No one tries to drop catches. But unfortunately, one went down today and I was responsible for it.”
That Kiwis even got as far as the final, particularly after injuries ruled out Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram and Daryl Tuffey early in the competition, was a major achievement. “It's certainly a step forward for us,” said McCullum. “We have had a tough time in the last couple of years --- not just losing players here through injury but also retirements and obviously the ICL as well. But what that did was give other guys opportunities. Now as a squad of 20-25 players, we have guys capable of performing on the international stage, a number of match-winners within the group.
“Whilst we are disappointed with what happened today, we are certainly proud of what we have achieved. We are proud of the desire and the passion that the team has shown through some tough times. If we can continue to capture that in tournaments and series that we play, this team will certainly move forward.”
Understandably McCullum was quick to praise the Australia. “In one-day cricket, they are very strong. They have got a well-knit squad, incredibly well led by Ricky, not just on the field but also off the field,” he said.