MELBOURNE - New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said he had no regrets after "one hell of a ride" at the World Cup came to an end with a seven-wicket defeat by Australia in Sunday's final in Melbourne. New Zealand had won all eight of their previous matches in this World Cup -- including a one-wicket defeat of Australia in the pool phase -- but all of those matches were on their own soil.

Unfortunately for the Black Caps, their first match in Australia this tournament ended in a crushing loss. New Zealand could only manage 183 after McCullum won the toss, with the tone for the innings set when the dynamic opener was bowled for nought by left-arm express paceman Mitchell Starc -- the man-of-the-tournament -- in the first over at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

By contrast, Australia captain Michael Clarke, playing his last one-day international, made 74 in his side's winning total of 186 for three. "It's been one hell of a ride for us," said McCullum. "We played some outstanding cricket, but we ran into an outstanding Australia team tonight who continue to set the way in world cricket. Michael Clarke deserves to bow out as world champion."

Turning to the ball that dismissed him, McCullum added: "It was quick one. It all unfolded not as we planned. I thought we got ourselves back in the game at 150 for three but Australia as they do put us back under pressure. We were the second-best team. We've got no regrets -- as a cricketer this is the greatest stage you can ask for," he added. "We've forged memories and friendships that will last forever. The brand of cricket we've is something we're immensely proud of. It is the greatest time of our lives and that's the way we've tried to play the game. I'm immensely proud of all the guys."

McCullum is also adamant there will be no backing down in the Black Caps' fearless approach in the wake of their crushing defeat to Australia. "No, no, you don't change your style of play. Look, for us to develop into the team that we want to be in international cricket, we have to play like that," he said. "I think there's an element of fearlessness about how we play, which has been an effect on other teams, as well. I think if you ask most of the teams in this tournament what they think of how we've played the game, they would be very respectful of how we've gone about it. It's what gives us our greatest pleasure, as well, and sometimes we're going to come undone, but for us to compete against the big teams on regular occasions and for us to be able to develop into the team we want to be, we need to keep playing this brand of cricket. We'll get better at doing it the more we become accustomed to it, and I guess a stronger depth of players we develop in the same sort of mould of cricket as we have. So yeah, we're not going to change."

Kiwis hold back retirements to allow Australia to bask: New Zealand have players who will retire from cricket but will be gracious in defeat and allow Australia to bask in their World Cup triumph, Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum said Sunday. In a refreshing dose of sporting humility, McCullum said the New Zealand team had no intention of grabbing the headlines off the rejoicing Australians and would do so when "the dust settles".

Australian captain Michael Clarke, who announced his retirement from the one-day format on the eve of the final, hit 74 in his last one-day international, triggering what is expected to be a number of retirements across the competing teams. Senior player Daniel Vettori, at 36, is one Black Cap rumoured to be quitting, and even 33-year-old McCullum has been mentioned, but the skipper would not divulge names in the wake of New Zealand's defeat.

"There are maybe guys within our group who will retire," McCullum told reporters after the final. "We'll let the dust settle on this one and we certainly won't look to grab any headlines over the next couple of days because they belong to Australia as they've deserve the right. We'll let the dust settle, we'll be gracious in defeat and then we'll work a plan over the next couple of days for some of those guys who may look to retire. But it's the right thing to allow Australia to bask in the glory of their success."

McCullum, who earned applause from reporters at the conclusion of his post-match conference, conceded their trans-Tasman neighbours won convincingly. "All credit to Australia for the way that they were able to deliver on the biggest stage at the biggest occasion and at the key moments," he said. "We'll take some lessons out of that, but sometimes you've just got to admit that you ran second in the race, and fair play to Australia for all their hard work and their success in the key moments."

McCullum didn't want to get into any criticism of verbal "send-offs" Australian bowlers gave to dismissed batsmen, notably Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill and Vettori. "Look, it wasn't really discussed within the group. A send-off is a send-off. It's not something we are necessarily concerned about," he said. "I think the focus should be on how well Australia played and how much they deserve this victory rather than any of those sort of minor issues on the way through. Yeah, I certainly don't want to go too deep into that."