Tim Paine has sensationally resigned as Australia's Test captain on the eve of the Ashes after being embroiled in a sexting scandal.

The 36-year-old wicketkeeper made the stunning announcement at a brief press conference on Friday, although he clarified he intends to remain available for selection.

Paine had taken over as Australian skipper from Steve Smith in the wake of the sandpaper scandal during the South Africa Test tour in 2018.

The Tasmanian, who is married with two children, revealed the decision was based on an explicit text exchange with a female former Cricket Tasmania colleague from 2017.

The incident was investigated at the time and Paine had been cleared of breaching Cricket Australia's Code of Conduct but he had recently learned the exchange was set to be made public and subsequently opted to stand down.

"It's an incredibly difficult decision but the right one for me, my family and cricket," Paine said.

"On reflection my actions in 2017 do not meet the standards of an Australian cricket captain or the wider community. I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and pain that I have caused for my wife, my family and the other party.

"I'm sorry for any damage that this does to the reputation of our sport and I believe it's the right decision for me to stand own as captain effectively immediately. I do not want this to become an unwelcome distraction to the team ahead of a huge Ashes series."

Paine became particularly emotional when discussing his role as Test captain, which he described as the "greatest privilege" of his playing career, having led the side which retained the Ashes in England in 2019.

"I've loved my role as captain of the Australian cricket team," he said. "It's been the greatest privilege of my sporting life to lead the Australian men's team.

"I'm grateful for the support of my teammates and proud of what we've been able to achieve together. To them I ask for understanding and forgiveness. To Australian cricket fans, I'm deeply sorry my past behaviour has impacted our game on the eve of the Ashes.

"I've been blessed with a wonderful loving supportive family and it's breaks my heart to know how much I've let them down. They've always stood by me and been my most loyal fans. I'm indebted to them for their support.

"I will remain a committed member of the Australian cricket team and look forward with anticipation for what is a huge Ashes tour."

Paine had earlier this week been included in Australia's 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests despite neck surgery in September.

Fast bowler Pat Cummins had been named in that squad as vice-captain, while Smith may be considered to step in as captain having served his penance for his 2018 indiscretion.

The First Test against England is due to commence at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 8.

Josh Adams has been passed fit to start for Wales and Pete Samu replaces Michael Hooper in the Australia team for Saturday's Test at the at Principality Stadium.

Adams missed the 38-23 defeat of Fiji last weekend due to a calf injury, but the winger will face the Wallabies.

Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins are Wayne Pivac's centre pairing, while the fit-again Aaron Wainwright is back at number eight.

Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis return to the starting line-up for what will be the final Test of the year for both sides.

Samu comes into the Australia team in the absence of Hooper, who suffered a foot injury in the loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

Props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa return after missing the defeat to the Red Rose due to concussion, while Tolu Latu starts at hooker and Filipo Daugunu gets the nod on the wing alongside Andrew Kellaway.

Centre Lalakai Foketi is set to make his debut off the bench, with James Slipper taking over as skipper.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Uilisi Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Ellis Jenkins (captain), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl.

Australia team: Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Nic White; James Slipper (captain), Tolu Latu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright.

The MCG Ashes Test and the Australian Open will be watched by capacity crowds following the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced there will no longer be limits on gatherings in the state.

Andrews had revealed last month, when the latest lockdown ended, that he was hopeful at least 80,000 will be able to attend the Boxing Day Test.

Australia and England can now look forward to playing in front of a full house of 100,000 next month.

The first grand slam of the year, starting at Melbourne Park on January 17, is also set to be played without a cap on the number of spectators allowed in.

"Whether it's 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day or a smaller group of people standing up at the … local pub, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built," he said at a press conference.

Crowds for the 2021 Australian Open were limited to 30,000 people per day – around half capacity – prior to a snap lockdown being implemented during the tournament.

No more than 30,000 were permitted in the MCG for Australia's Boxing Day Test against India last year.

Australia have named a 15-man squad for the opening two Ashes Tests, with captain Tim Paine included despite an injury cloud and veteran Usman Khawaja recalled.

Paine is yet to return to competitive cricket after neck surgery in September but leads an Australia team looking to win the Ashes after retaining the urn with a 2-2 series draw in England in 2019.

Khawaja, who turns 35 next month, earns a recall after strong Sheffield Shield form with two centuries in four matches, having not played the longest format of cricket since the third Ashes Test in 2019.

Victorian left-hander Marcus Harris appears set to open the batting alongside David Warner, with Will Pucovski absent due to another concussion, while Travis Head and Khawaja will battle to take the number five role.

Head was dropped in Australia's last Test series against India in January.

The first Test takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8, followed by the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval from December 16.

National selection panel chair George Bailey said: "Marcus has been a consistent run scorer domestically and had a strong winter further developing his game with Leicestershire. He is a good player who will be looking to build a strong partnership with David Warner at the top of the order.

"Travis finished last summer strongly, second only to Cameron Green for runs scored, and has again started the season well. He drives the game forward and can put the opposition under pressure with his ability to score quickly.

"Similarly, Usman Khawaja has been in great touch. He brings a calm, consistent and experienced component to the batting line up and is a proven run scorer at Test level. He also has the ability to bat across a range of positions in the batting order."

Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser are included as fast bowling depth, although the latter recently sustained a minor hamstring strain playing for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.

"Jhye is seeing the rewards of concentrating on his red ball cricket in the build up to this series. We know he has an exceptional skill set and are excited about what he brings to the team now his body is back on track," Bailey said.

 

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Australia were forced to settle for a point in their World Cup qualifier against China after a 1-1 draw in the UAE.

After winning 11 games in a row, including a 3-0 victory against China in the reverse fixture in September, the Socceroos are now winless in three – their worst such run since June 2018.

Australia led in this match, though, following a quiet start, as Martin Boyle's cross was headed in emphatically by Mitch Duke seven minutes before the break.

Despite creating little for the first hour, China were level on 70 minutes when James Jeggo was adjudged by a VAR review to have handled in the penalty area, allowing Wu Lei to send Mat Ryan the wrong way from the spot.

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages, but neither came particularly close to getting it, forced instead to make do with a point apiece.

The draw sees Australia move on to 11 points in Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying, five behind leaders Saudi Arabia, while China have five points.

Australia captain Michael Hooper will be absent for the Wallabies' final Autumn Nations Series game against Wales on Saturday. 

Hooper was forced off injured during the second half of Australia's 32-15 loss to England at Twickenham last weekend, which followed a 15-13 defeat to Scotland. 

The Wallabies confirmed on Twitter that scans carried out on the flanker revealed he had suffered a midfoot sprain and would be unavailable to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium. 

The news came after Hooper was revealed to be one of four players in contention for the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year award. He is up against Antoine Dupont, Maro Itoje and Samu Kerevi in the fan vote. 

Australia have only won two of their past 10 away Tests against European teams, losing eight. However, one of those victories came against Wales in Cardiff in 2017. 

David Warner, Jos Buttler and Babar Azam are among those to have been named in the Official ICC Men's T20 World Cup's Team of the Tournament.

The T20 World Cup came to a close on Sunday after Australia beat New Zealand by eight-wickets in the final in Abu Dhabi.

The team was selected by a panel of commentators and journalists.

"As with any team selection there will be varying opinions, and robust discussion on the final composition of the squad," one of those panellists, Ian Bishop, told the ICC's official website. "The panel respects that, and we encourage the strong debate that will ensue.

"This team was incredibly difficult to select over such a highly competitive tournament. Selections were based predominantly on the Super 12 onward to the final.

"We endeavoured to select players as close to their initial team position where possible. This intention was not always a reality, as some compromises had to be made.”

The team includes players from champions Australia, runners-up New Zealand, as well as England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. 

 

David Warner (Australia)

Arguably the most obvious selection as the man who was the ICC's Player of the Tournament. Despite questions about his form before the World Cup, Warner scored an impressive 289 runs at an average of 48.16.

Although he did not top the table for most runs, highest innings or highest average, Warner's impact was unquestionable. His 65 against Sri Lanka, 89 not out against West Indies, 49 against Pakistan in the semi-finals and then 53 in the final were vital for the champions.

Jos Buttler (England)

The hard-hitting Buttler was the only player to score a century at the tournament, while he finished fourth in the list for most runs. His tally of 269 included a fantastic 71 from 32 balls in England’s Super 12 victory over Australia, as well as his 101 not out against Sri Lanka.

Babar Azam (Pakistan)

The top run-scorer and only player to break the 300-run mark (303), Babar has been named as captain of the ICC Team of the Tournament. He scored four fifties at his first T20 World Cup, starting with his 68 not out against old rivals India, which helped lead Pakistan to a memorable 10-wicket victory.

Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka)

Asalanka came fifth in the list for most runs, which is impressive when you consider Sri Lanka exited at the Super 12 stage. The 24-year-old scored 231 runs at an average of 46.2, including an unbeaten 80 off 49 balls against Bangladesh.

Aiden Markram (South Africa)

Moved to a middle-order role for this tournament, Markram seemed to thrive as his 40 off 36 balls nearly saw the Proteas beat Australia in the Super 12s. An unbeaten 51 from 26 balls against West Indies and 52 off 25 against England was, though, not enough to help South Africa progress.

Moeen Ali (England)

England's ever-reliable all-rounder took seven wickets from his 14 overs during the tournament, as well as hitting 92 runs at an average of 46.

Moeen's bowling figures included 2-17, 2-18 and 2-15 to heap pressure on opponents throughout, while his batting performances included a fine 51 from 37 balls against New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka)

Leg-spinner Hasaranga was comfortably top of the wicket-taking chart with 16, three ahead of Adam Zampa and Trent Boult in joint-second.

This included a hat-trick against South Africa, but like Moeen, Hasaranga also contributed with the bat, striking a vital 71 against Ireland in the first round and a defiant 34 from 21 balls against England in the Super 12s.

Adam Zampa (Australia)

Another spinner who could not be left out, Zampa took 13 wickets and averaged just 5.81 runs against per over, often keeping the run rate down impeccably in the middle overs. The 29-year-old, who his captain Aaron Finch labelled as the player of the tournament, can also boast the best figures of the World Cup with a tremendous 5-19 against Bangladesh.

Josh Hazlewood (Australia)

Like his team-mate Warner, Hazlewood did not top any individual tables but came through with big performances when they were needed. His 11 wickets included a 4-39 against West Indies that played a big part in sealing a semi-final place, before the paceman took a ruthless 3-16 in the final.

Trent Boult (New Zealand)

Boult was the top wicket-taking seamer at the tournament (13) and played a huge role in getting the Black Caps to the final. His average of 6.25 overs conceded per over was impressive considering he was mostly used during powerplays and at the death.

Anrich Nortje (South Africa)

Nortje took a wicket in every match he played at his first T20 World Cup, taking nine overall at an average of 11.55. His most noteworthy contribution was an explosive 3-8 from 3.2 overs against Bangladesh to help skittle the Tigers out for just 84.

12th man: Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)

The 21-year-old burst into the World Cup with his pace bowling, removing Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli in Pakistan's opening game against India. Afridi took seven wickets overall, earning him a spot as first reserve in this star-studded team.

Ange Postecoglou is in the midst of the biggest job an Australian coach has held in men's club football.

Postecoglou changed the landscape of the game in Australia and left a legacy in Japan, where he conquered the J1 League with Yokohama F.Marinos before he was lured to Glasgow by a wounded Scottish powerhouse Celtic, dethroned by bitter rivals Rangers.

After some initial backlash, Postecoglou has Celtic fans dreaming of glory through an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football and unrelenting belief in his philosophy.

But to get a clear picture of Postecoglou – the most decorated coach in Australian football – and his journey to Parkhead, you have to go back to his days at boyhood club South Melbourne.

Most know about Postecoglou's love for South Melbourne, where his passion for the sport grew alongside his father after immigrating from Greece.

Postecoglou went from juniors to seniors, winning two titles as a player before delivering back-to-back NSL titles as a coach and an unprecedented spot alongside Manchester United at the 2000 Club World Cup in Brazil.

Michael Petersen saw the making of Postecoglou unfold before his eyes. The former South Melbourne and Australia midfielder had been involved with the Australian great since around the age of 10 – the pair initially clashing in a junior rivalry between South and Port Melbourne.

Petersen eventually joined Postecoglou at South Melbourne in the late 1980s.

"He was a natural leader," Petersen told Stats Perform. "In a lot of ways, probably needed to get up to speed personally, but it was an invisible leadership. But he was always serious about his football. He loved the club. So his loyalty was unquestioned."

A trail-blazing coach, Postecoglou's career in the dugout is well-documented but he was also successful on the pitch – the former defender is considered to be one of South Melbourne's greatest players, having won eight pieces of silverware, while earning four international caps for Australia.

However, Postecoglou's career was cut short due to a knee injury.

"He was underestimated [as a player] but obviously he got wiped out pretty young at 27," Petersen said. "I think you're just coming into your professional career [at that age]. At the time, South Melbourne had a lot of good players in all the lines so he probably went a little bit unnoticed but not in our changing room. He was very well respected. You obviously don't make someone captain if you're not first on the teamsheet, so he was always first picked on the teamsheet."

 

Postecoglou's success has been shaped by his father, Dimitris, and legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas.

The 56-year-old played under Puskas from 1989 to 1992, forming a close bond, before launching his own coaching career at South Melbourne.

Postecoglou was appointed in 1996 and former general manager Peter Filopoulos was instrumental in the ex-captain's rise from skipper to coach.

"Every time I spoke to Ange, I felt like I was educated about football. Because I was an administrator. I never played at the high level. I was a little bit more educated about South Melbourne's history and he was very proud of South Melbourne history, the club and he always had these really big aspirations for the club, but also big aspirations for football in Australia as he still does," Filopoulos said.

Postecoglou's transition from player to senior coach at South Melbourne almost did not happen following the sacking of former Socceroos boss Frank Arok.

After a 3-0 loss away to Marconi in March 1996, Arok was relieved of his duties and Postecoglou put in charge on an interim basis for the remaining three games of the season.

"I remember getting the long bus trip to the airport from Fairfield and Frank had slumped in his chair and was just sulking a little bit. The players started to misbehave and were bantering. It was as if they had won 3-0, not lost 3-0. I could see Ange to the right of me was just not amused at all right, I'm sitting at the front of the bus as the official. And it got to the stage that it was out of control on the bus," Filopoulos recalled. "He went up to the front of the bus and picked up the microphone. He said, 'You listen to me, you blokes'. It was silent and he said to them, 'I've played for this club from under eights, right through to every level of South Melbourne, I've worn this jersey for every team age group, to the seniors, I captained this club and won championships. If you want to muck around, no problem, we lost 3-0 but I just want to tell you my perspective, today was the worst performance I've seen of any, any South Melbourne team of any age group in my entire career. So if you guys are happy with yourselves, and you want muck around on the bus, why don't you just reflect on the disgraceful performance and how you disgraced the team jersey today and the club'.

"That was it. There was silence for the rest of the bus trip. And then we got to the airport. And there was all these shuffling of the boarding passes. No one wanted to sit next to Ange. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, right? But I remember thinking to myself back then this guy has something special."

However, Postecoglou – who was working in a bank at the time to supplement his salary of being an assistant coach – was not even in the equation to make the step up permanently after winning all three games as South Melbourne's hierarchy eyed bigger and more established names.

"I'd be in the board meetings as a general manager, and they'd be speaking about Zoran Matic and [former Australia coach] Raul Blanco, all those big names of the time. Ange came into the office and he wasn't really mentioned around the table. They all thought he'd automatically be an assistant," Filopoulos said.

"He goes to me what's going on with the coaching gig? And me naively, I said we had a meeting last night and we're talking about Matic and Blanco. And Ange goes, 'What about me big fella?' I said, 'Are you interested?' He said 'Yes I am, I am interested'. I said, 'Well Ange, if you're interested, you need to make it known'. I thought, I wonder what the young fellas thought. We had the younger committee members and older ones. I remember ringing up some committee members and I threw Ange's name in the mix and over a few conversations, you have to give him a chance to present.

"So what I did back then, we were a very close-knit social group, the younger guys and I set up a barbecue at my place. The coaching conversation came up. And everyone's talking about those big names again. And then Ange said, 'You know I'm interested right?' And someone said, 'What? Are you really interested?' Ange started talking about his philosophy and ideas. It went for like 30 minutes. It was like a full-on pitch without knowing it was a pitch. He finished and it was dead silence. The vice-president at the time said 'Ange you're our f****** coach mate'. That was it. We lobbied hard and got him through. It was tough to get it through. There were some really older guys who weren't convinced.

"Ange got the job. And a lot of people would say that was a foresight. I would say, sometimes it was instinctive that it was the right decision. He changed everything. So there's me as general manager, it was actually quite good, because there was all these expectations and all these different things he wanted in place, which meant I worked pretty hard for him to deliver it."

 

But it was not all smooth sailing after fighting tooth and nail to appoint Postecoglou – a run of just one win from seven games to open the 1996-97 season had some South Melbourne committee members calling for Ange's head.

Filopoulos said: "There were a few phone calls from committee members and I remember one guy, he said 'you need to get rid of him at midnight tonight so no one sees him leave the club because you've made a mistake, and because you orchestrated all of this, you can follow him behind'.

"It came down to the eighth game at Marconi for a coach's career, really, because the pressure was on. We won after a scrappy 87th-minute goal. Had we not won that game, it would have been a different future for Ange. The rest is history. After that, he improved our football club. He took it to another level. We became a true destination club."

"So a similar story to Celtic, it takes some time, right? Because he does, on my experience, he turned our program upside down. He has meticulous detail and thought process, even to the point of dressing room access," he added.

Petersen, who also served as Postecoglou's assistant during his tenure as head coach of the Young Socceroos, experienced the "seamless" transition from player to coach up close and personal.

"There's layers to having a good football IQ. There's layers to it," said Petersen, who was told his playing career was ending by Postecoglou. "Ange has always had it. No, not even an issue. Very, very astute. I can rubber stamp that from, from way, way back. And that's to a point is if you love something, you really go deep into it. He goes deep into, you know, picking a football team for any matchday is a bit of a puzzle. You've just got to put the whole thing together, you've got to get the right balance of energy, skill sets. Who's going to actually perform on the day for that given day?

"He doesn't get it wrong a lot. And I can say that, but I think his history shows it. He's managed to get it right on the big days. It's by design, it's not coincidence. He gets it right. You can read all the books in the world. And you either got that gift, or you don't have that gift."

"At the time [after coaching South Melbourne to NSL glory] I thought Ange was Australia’s modern-day version of Alex Ferguson," he continued. "To this day I haven't changed my mind as I have watched him evolve and succeed and continually challenge himself and the type of football his team produces. Ange wins and wins well with style and grace."

 

From South Melbourne to Australia and Japan, Postecoglou has won it all – a pair of National Soccer League championships, back-to-back A-League titles, a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos and a J1 League crown with F.Marinos – while silencing his doubters.

Postecoglou, like Manchester City's Pep Guardiola and former Juventus and Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, pushes the boundaries. Firmly set in his belief of how football should be played, Postecoglou's approach never wavers and success follows in his pursuit of excellence.

That has always been the case for Postecoglou.

Recalling Postecoglou's first steps in senior coaching and his pitch-side antics, Petersen – who also worked alongside Ange at South Melbourne after retirement – said: "We almost had a rule, no one was allowed to talk on the bench. If you're gonna say something, it's gotta mean something, otherwise chitter chatter and joking around, none of that. So there's none of this micro-coaching, if you like. Ange was almost locked in tune with the game. He was actually very, very still, quiet and measured."

Postecoglou is known for not getting too close to his players and Petersen added: "I think that's a maturity beyond his years in a sense that he always, because he probably had to start coaching young and he kind of realised early that you do have to draw a line from mateship because players are insecure creatures, and they'll look for any way to get a way in and if you can be pals, you might jag a spot because he likes you.

"Ange never did that. He made decisions that were based on what was best for the club, not necessarily on the individual. Even as a captain, looking back, he was galvanising the hierarchy, the directors of the football club, everything was all about what was best for the football club. I think that's rare to see players who do that. And then already when they transition into assistant coach and then senior coach, you knew there was a line. And that was all right. I think, in the wash-up, once you know the rules of a gaffer, you love it, you go, 'Okay, well, I know where I stand, I've got to perform'. And it's not just performing in games, it's performing at training. We have to perform, every training session means something.

"We joke around in the changing rooms and then we had fun. We had ghetto blasters, telling jokes. I think the moment we hit the football pitch, for that block of time, for an hour and a half, it was business. There's no laughing, football is serious. Because you laugh and joke, you lose football games. So you train how you play. So the intensity should always be at training. I think Ange knew that already at a young age – perform at training, transition that into games, and then whatever happens after hours, yeah, let's have some fun as well."

Aaron Finch has hailed Adam Zampa as the player of the tournament after Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets to claim a first T20 World Cup title.

David Warner claimed the official Player of the Tournament award after a scintillating performance with the bat, hitting 53 from just 38 balls in the final to finish as the second-highest run-scorer in the competition, his tally of 289 bettered only by Pakistan captain Babar Azam's total of 303.

However, Finch believes Zampa's contribution was even more important and heaped praise on the 29-year-old, who took 13 wickets in total.

Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (16) was the only bowler to take more wickets in the tournament than Zampa, who also recorded the best figures in a single game (5-19).

"[Zampa was the] player of the tournament for me, controlled the game, got big wickets, super player," Finch said after the game. 

"Can't believe people wrote [Warner] off a couple of weeks ago, it was almost like poking the bear. Mitch Marsh, what a way to start, put pressure on from the start.

"Matt Wade came in under an injury cloud and got the job done. He came in in the semi-final alongside Marcus Stoinis and did the business."

Finch revelled in Australia's historic triumph and pointed to their eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh on November 4 as the turning point for their successful campaign.

"This is huge, to be the first Australia team to [win the T20 World Cup]," Finch continued. "So proud of how the guys went about the campaign.

"[The Bangladesh game certainly was the turning point], backs were against the wall. We had to fight and certainly did that, had some great team and individual performances."

Kane Williamson conceded Australia did not give New Zealand any leeway as Aaron Finch's side cruised to their maiden T20 World Cup crown.

Williamson, who was dropped on 21 by Josh Hazlewood, struck 85 from just 45 balls to guide his side to 172-4 from their 20-over allocation in Sunday's final.

That was the joint-highest score in a T20 World Cup final – along with Marlon Samuels' knock against England in 2016 – and the fastest-half century ever scored in the showpiece of the competition.

However, Williamson held those records for a short time as Mitchell Marsh, who blasted his first ball over square leg for six, delivered a brutal unbeaten 77 from 50 deliveries to see Australia over the line.

After Australia completed their second magnificent run chase in four days, following victory over Pakistan in the semi-final, Williamson admitted New Zealand's trans-Tasman rivals never gave his side a chance in the chase.

"We were trying to get a bit of a platform and the surface was holding a platform," Williamson said during his post-match interview on the field.

"We got what we thought at the halfway stage was a good total, but it was chased superbly by Australia.

"We made every effort to get a good total. Guys came out and committed to their plans. We weren't far away but having said that, credit to the way Australia chased that total. They did not give us an inch.

"I'm really proud of our teams efforts throughout the tournaments. We came here and gave it our best shot, but it wasn't good enough tonight."

Trent Boult, whose figures of 2-18 proved in vain, provided New Zealand with the briefest glimmer of hope when he bowled David Warner (53) in the 13th over.

But Williamson appreciated that Australia were a class above as he looked back on yet another final loss, previously losing to England in the 2019 World Cup.

"Australia are a team full of amazing players," he added. "Today they really turned it on.

"We finish this campaign and such is life in the international schedule is you move your focus. No doubt we're feeling this one a little bit.

"We had high hopes coming into the game. It's never nice. You sign up to these sort of things. It's just a shame we couldn't get the job done tonight."

Mitch Marsh reflected on an "amazing six weeks" after he made a record-breaking unbeaten half-century as Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets to win a maiden T20 World Cup title.

Australia pulled off another outstanding run chase to beat their trans-Tasman rivals at Dubai International Stadium, where Kane Williamson's outstanding 85 off 48 balls proved to be in vain.

The Black Caps posted 172-4 thanks to Williamson's masterclass, the skipper's knock equalling Marlon Samuels' record score in a T20 World Cup final for West Indies in their victory over England five years ago.

Australia cruised to their target with seven balls to spare, player of the tournament David Warner (53 from 38 balls) and Marsh starring with the bat.

Marsh finished unbeaten 77 not out off 50 balls, breaking a record Williamson had set earlier by making the fastest fifty in a T20 World Cup final from just 31 deliveries. 

The all-rounder has never really fulfilled his potential at international level due to injuries, but showed what he is capable on the big stage and revelled in a historic evening for Australia.

Man of the match Marsh said during the post-match interview: "I don't really have words, what an amazing six weeks with this group. Love them to death. World champs."

 

Marsh hit the first ball he faced for six, putting Mitchell Santner into the stand, and cleared the rope another three times, as well as hitting a further six boundaries.

He relished the opportunity to bat at number three and was determined to grasp his chance.

The 30-year-old said: "The coaching staff came up to me in the West Indies and said you're going to bat three for this tournament, and I jumped at it. I have the staff to thank for backing me and getting me up the top there.

"I just love playing for this team. I just wanted to get out there and have a presence, which big Marcus Stoinis always talks to me about. I can't believe it. It's unbelievable."

Questions had been asked about Warner's place in the team coming into the tournament, but the opener finished as the second-highest run-scorer with 289 behind Pakistan captain Babar Azam (303).

Warner said: "I always felt really well. I didn't get much time in the middle in the practice matches but it was about going back to basics and getting on some hard synthetic wickets and get hitting balls. I managed to do that and then I scored runs.

"This is definitely up there with 2015. Being part of the 2010 [World T20 final) defeat to England hurt, but the women winning made us a feel a bit of that. These guys are a great bunch of guys. We've got a great support staff and support around the world."

Mitch Marsh blasted a record-breaking 31-ball half-century as Australia beat New Zealand by eight wickets to win their first T20 World Cup title.

Kane Williamson made a majestic 85 from only 48 balls after being dropped by Josh Hazlewood on 21 as New Zealand posted 172-4, after being put in by Aaron Finch in the trans-Tasman showdown at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

That was the joint-highest score in a T20 World Cup final, with Marlon Samuels having been 15 short of a hundred in West Indies' victory over England five years ago. It was also the fastest half-century ever scored in the final of the competition for a short time, until Marsh's heroics.

Williamson reached his fifty from 32 deliveries as Mitchell Starc endured a nightmare, the left-arm quick's four wicketless overs going for 60. The outstanding Hazlewood was the pick of the Australia bowlers with brilliant figures of 3-16.

Australia produced another magnificent run chase on the back of a stunning semi-final win over Pakistan, Warner and Marsh putting on 92 for the second wicket.

Warner made a superb 53 from 38 balls and Marsh was unbeaten on 77 from 50 deliveries as Australia were crowned champions with seven deliveries to spare.

Marsh raced away to his half-century, taking spinner Ish Sodhi (0-40 in three overs) apart as Trent Boult's brilliant figures of 2-18 were in vain.

All-rounder Marsh had not fully realised his potential in an injury-hit career but showed he can be a world-class performer on a historic Sunday night for Australia as New Zealand endured heartbreak in their first T20 World Cup final.

World-class Williamson the man for the big occasion

New Zealand were only 32-1 at the end of the powerplay, with Daryl Mitchell caught behind off Hazlewood, but Williamson shifted through the gears in a masterful innings with sweet timing and power.

The skipper was put down by Hazlewood in the deep in the 11th over from the expensive Starc before hitting Maxwell for back-to-back sixes to reach his half-century - the first of those with one hand coming off the bat as he hoisted the ball into the stand.

Martin Guptill (28) fell to star spinner Adam Zampa (1-26) after being dropped by Matthew Wade on 10, but the boundaries continued to flow for Williamson, who hit three sixes and 10 fours before holing out off Hazlewood.

 

Marsh and Warner make light work of run chase

Boult got an early breakthrough when he sent Finch on his way, but Warner and Marsh swung the game in Australia's favour with clean striking and great running between the wickets.

Marsh struck the first ball he faced from Adam Milne for six, while Warner looked increasingly ominous, taking a liking to the spin of Sodhi and hitting Jimmy Neesham for a huge six to reach a 34-ball half-century.

The excellent Boult returned to clean up Warner and the left-arm paceman dropped a tough chance to dismiss Marsh when Australia were almost home.

Glenn Maxwell (28 not out) struck Tim Southee for four to win it, with Marsh still unbeaten after striking four sixes and another six boundaries in a stunning innings.

Aaron Finch claims there has been no talk in the Australia camp of securing an elusive T20 World Cup title ahead of the final against New Zealand on Sunday.

Australia have never been crowned world champions in the shortest format, losing to England in their only other final back in 2010.

The Black Caps stand in the way of Finch's side and a historic maiden title at the Dubai International Stadium after both sides pulled off brilliant semi-final run chases.

Australia beat Pakistan by five wickets and New Zealand defeated England by the same margin to set up an eagerly awaited trans-Tasman showdown.

Captain Finch revealed there have been no discussions between the players of Australia finally getting their hands on the trophy.

The opening batter said: "We haven't actually spoken about it as yet. We are just committed to turning up and playing some really aggressive and good cricket. 

"We understand that T20 cricket can be fickle in its nature at certain periods of time and you have to embrace the challenges of it, whether it's a final or whether it's a one-off game in any kind of series, I think they all mean a lot. We are just excited to get under way.

"I think the New Zealand side, they have got a huge amount of quality and they have shown that over a long period of time now. I think they have been the best powerplay performing team with the ball in this tournament, so that's going to be a challenge. 

"They have got obviously Daryl Mitchell, who played a great knock in the last game against England. Martin Guptill, class and power. And then you've got Kane Williamson, who is all class as well as a top three.

"They have got match-winners right throughout their innings, and with the bat and ball, Ish Sodhi and Mitch Santner have showed their class in the past as well. It's a game between two sides that are really similarly matched I think, and yes, it will be a great game."

 

Finch says he has no concerns about the former of Steve Smith, who only made five against Pakistan after being dismissed for only one in his previous knock in a loss to England.

 "No, not concerned one bit about his form," he said. "He's a world-class player and he's someone in big games has showed how valuable he is. He's been hitting the ball as well as I've seen for a long time, so no, no concerns there whatsoever."

Freddie Steward and Jamie Blamire touched down as England secured a 32-15 victory over Australia in the Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham on Saturday.  

Leicester Tigers full-back Steward crossed for his first Test try in the opening stages, but poor discipline from both teams meant the match was largely a kicking contest.  

The returning Owen Farrell had 17 points to James O'Connor's 15 with the boot as Australia failed to bounce back from their 15-13 loss to Scotland last weekend.  

After Farrell and Michael Hooper hobbled off with injuries in the second half, Blamire raced away with the clock in the red to add a touch of gloss to the scoreline. 

Steward stepped around Kurtley Beale for the opening try in the eighth minute, but England were unable to take full advantage of Australia being reduced to 14 men after Tom Wright was sent to the bin for catching Jamie George in the head with his shoulder.  

Only a sublime last-ditch tackle from Nic White stopped George touching in the corner in the 35th minute and O'Connor's fourth successful penalty before Wright returned meant there were just four points in it at the break.  

O'Connor closed the gap further after the restart, but Angus Bell was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Courtney Lawes and Farrell slotted through the resulting penalty, though he missed another effort from the tee before Bell returned.  

An ankle injury forced Hooper off before the hour mark and Farrell put a converted try between the teams with a successful penalty after Bell's scrum infringement. 

The game was already put to bed before Noah Lolesio gave the ball away to Sam Simmonds, who teed up Blamire for a try that Marcus Smith converted to make the result look more comfortable.

Eight straight for England  

Since Eddie Jones took over, England have been victorious in all of their eight meetings with their coach's home nation. They have never enjoyed a better winning run against the Wallabies, who last got the better of England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  

Australia still struggle in Europe  

Having succumbed to back-to-back defeats against Scotland and England, Australia have now won just two of their past 10 away Tests versus European teams. They will hope to end the skid against Wales at the Principality Stadium next weekend. 

Kane Williamson is excited by the prospect of New Zealand pulling off a dream double when they face Australia in the T20 World Cup final on Sunday.

The Black Caps beat India to win the inaugural World Test Championship in June and they will contest a third consecutive ICC final at Dubai International Stadium this weekend.

New Zealand had never reached a T20 World Cup final before defeating England with a magnificent run chase on Wednesday and captain Williamson is urging his side to rise to the occasion when they do battle with their trans-Tasman rivals.

He said in a press conference on Saturday: "It'd be some achievement [to do the double],

"But where it stands at the moment is there's a game of cricket to play and for us it's focusing on that and focusing on our cricket and looking to go out there and implement the things that are important to us.

"These sort of events are of focus in the calendar and it's a really exciting opportunity to be here now and looking forward to the match tomorrow."

Australia also chased down a big total to upset Pakistan and moved into their second World Cup final in the shortest format, having lost to England in 2010.

Skipper Aaron Finch says Australia always had the belief they could defy the odds and go all the way to the final.

He said: "It wasn't unexpected. We came here with a clear plan to try and win this tournament. We always felt that we have the depth and quality to do that.

"A lot of people had written us off from the start, so it has been really impressive the way we have gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well and had match-defining performances at some point, the guys are up and about for tomorrow."

 

Conway blow hands Seifert unexpected chance

It was a memorable day for New Zealand when they knocked England out in midweek, but one of mixed emotions for Devon Conway.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 46 before he was stumped giving Liam Livingstone the charge and he reacted by punching his bat, inflicting further pain on himself by breaking his hand.

Conway will miss the final as a result of that furious response to his dismissal, so Tim Seifert comes into the side.

Seifert has big shoes to fill, as Conway has been a revelation in his short international career so far. The left-hander scored 129 runs at an average of 32.25 in his first T20 World Cup.

Stand-in keeper Seifert made only eight in his only appearance of this tournament against Pakistan after coming in at seven in the order. He averages 24.24 in 33 T20I knocks.

 

Warner silencing the doubters

Questions were raised about David Warner's place in the Australia side ahead of the tournament after he was dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad during the Indian Premier League.

The opener has shown his class in the United Arab Emirates, making 236 runs from six innings at an average of 47.20 

Only Matthew Hayden (265 in 2007) and Shane Watson (249 in 2012) have scored more for Australia in a single edition of a T20 World Cup.

Warner’s 35 boundaries in the campaign (28 fours, 7 sixes) are the joint-most by any player in the tournament (level with Mohammad Rizwan and Jos Buttler).

Australia showed the strength of their batting line-up in a five-wicket win over a Pakistan side that had won every match to cruise into the last four, Matthew Wade blasting a brilliant 41 not out off 17 balls and Marcus Stoinis making an unbeaten 40 after Warner's rapid 49.

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