When Australia faced New Zealand in the final of the Men’s T20 World Cup, there was a sense of familiarity to it for Michael Clarke.
Clarke appeared at the announcement of the T20 World Cup 2022 venues this past week and spoke about the matchup that occurred on Monday morning in Dubai.
The former Australian captain led Australia to victory in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, also over the Black Caps, and expressed his pride over Australia repeating the feat in T20.
“It does [feel familiar] and the result does as well, Australia winning,” he said to media at the announcement at the SCG on Tuesday.
“I thought the tournament was exceptional. I think we in Australia still see test cricket as the pinnacle, but I can tell you from a player’s perspective there’s nothing better than being part of a World Cup campaign.
“Be it One Day cricket or T20 cricket, and to have the opportunity to play in front of your fans it doesn’t get much better than that.
“The boys should be so proud, the way they performed recently, I think the win against Pakistan was outstanding in the semi-final and then to beat New Zealand in the final was exceptional.
“Really proud of the boys, and New Zealand should be really proud as well, they were great as they always are in major tournaments, and it shows the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, very tough on the field, but ultimate respect off the field.”
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Several individual players’ performances did not go unnoticed by Clarke, singling out strong games throughout the tournament, including some who fought back against a wave of criticism.
“To see Mitch Marsh in the final, after the criticism he’s copped through his career, I think he’s very special, I loved seeing Wadey [Matthew Wade] make those runs and getting the team home in the semifinal- without that performance, Australia doesn’t make the final,” he said.
“Davey Warner copped a lot of criticism, there was talk ‘is he still good enough to be in the team,’ he proved a lot of people wrong as well.”
With Australia hosting next year’s tournament as defending champions, there comes added pressure on the side.
However, Clarke has backed in the Australian side to respond well to any extra pressure.
“Australia’s always loved that [extra pressure] We’ve always had high expectations at tournaments like this,” he said.
“I think, generally, we’ve played our best cricket when we’re under the most amount of pressure, so I don’t think being the team that everyone’s trying to chase now will bother the guys.”
“The luxury is you’re playing on grounds you know so well, in front of fans you know they’ve got your back, they’ll support you, and it’ll only make them stronger.”
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