MELBOURNE: Australia captain Michael Clarke dedicated Sunday´s World Cup final triumph to Phillip Hughes, the team-mate who died after being hit on the head by a bouncer last year.
Clarke, who made 74 in the seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in what was his last one-day international, described Hughes as the squad´s 16th man at the six-week tournament.
“I´m sure everybody standing on this stage will say we played this World Cup with 16 players,” said Clarke.
“This victory is dedicated to our little brother Phillip Hughes. Hughesy used to party as good as any of them so I guarantee we´ll celebrate hard tonight.”
Clarke will continue to play Test cricket and vowed to keep wearing a black armband in honour of his close friend.
“The band has got PH on it. I will wear it every game I play for Australia. It´s been a really tough few months.”
Australia batsman Hughes died on November 27 last year, two days after being hit on the head by a Sean Abbott bouncer in a first-class match in Sydney.
Clarke also praised New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and his Black Caps team who came up short in the final after winning all their eight games in the tournament heading into the final.
“The New Zealand team deserve a lot of credit — they´re always a tough team to beat.
Congratulations to Brendon and the team on a great tournament,” said Clarke.
“Thanks to all the supporters out there, and most importantly, thanks to our amazing team — the way they´ve stood up and played tonight, they deserve to be here.
“We played really well tonight. The guys were ready. It´s been an honour and a privilege to represent my country in both Test and ODI cricket.
“But the time is right for me to step down from ODI cricket,” added Clarke, who was out with just nine runs needed for victory.
As he walked off, he was given a standing ovation by the record 93,013 crowd inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground. (AFP)