Cricket: Clark steers Australia to World Cup

New Zealand 164 Australia 165-5

Australia win by 5 wickets

Eden Gardens did the women's World Cup proud yesterday, with a largely female crowd of some 50,000 bringing a cheerful atmosphere to Australia's contest with New Zealand in the final.

They were rewarded with a typically alert and combative performance by the side that has always looked the most complete outfit here; Australia won by five wickets with two overs and two balls to spare, and the outcome was rarely in doubt.

After New Zealand chose to bat, the opener Debbie Hockley scored a brave and responsible 79 off 121 balls, which, against an attack of Australia's quality, was certainly the best innings we have seen in this tournament. Unfortunately, apart from their captain, Maia Lewis, who contributed 10 runs to a fourth-wicket partnership of 38, no one stayed with Hockley for long.

The Australian strike bowler Cathryn Fitzpatrick was quick, recording figures of 10-2-22-1. Her partner in pace Bronwyn Calver is not as rapid, but she moved the ball about, removing Hockley's opening partner, Emily Drumm, lbw for six with a beautiful delivery. Australia's fielding was similarly relentless, typified by the sizzling 30-yard throw from point to the bowlers' end by Michelle Goszko that ran out Kathryn Ramel with a direct hit.

New Zealand were all out for 164 in their penultimate over, not much of a total, but there was a doubt over whether Australia could bat down the order as they have not needed to here. They proved they could, although their opener and captain, Belinda Clark, shouldered much of the load with a steady 52 off 81 balls, her 11th fifty in 40 international one-day innings. It took a sharp return catch by the off-spinner Catherine Campbell to remove her.

Too much of New Zealand's work in the field was otherwise sloppy. Clark's departure left Australia on 117 for 3 in the 34th over. Karen Rolton and Melanie Jones stayed calm and put the bad balls away to bring the target inexorably closer.

New Zealand's shortage of quality bowling was exposed when, with Australia needing only nine runs off the last six overs, Ramel came on, and promptly bowled two wides in her first three balls.

Bronwyn Calver took Australia home with a four and a single off Ramel, as they became world champions for the fourth time in six competitions, and deservedly so.

It was unfortunate that eight of England's beaten semi-finalists did not stay to watch them do it. It is understandable that they wanted to go; that they were allowed to do so, however, did not go down well here.