but both times it ended even.
Both teams in the Cricket World Cup Final, England and New Zealand, could have won it, neither really deserved to lose it as England got lucky with the laws of the game to clinch their first title.
Channel 4 probably can’t believe their luck after they got live cricket back on terrestrial telly when what looked like it might have been a bit of a dull low scoring game, with very few boundaries, few fours never mind sixes and even fewer wacky shots – there was just Butler’s ramp scoop, wasn’t there? – turned into one of, if not the tightest, exciting finale ever.
In normal play England needed 15 from that final over. Two balls into it and they still needed 15, the Stokes swings and its 9 from 4. Then the moment of some controversy. The overthrows that came off Stokes bat, going for four, because the batsmen hadn’t crossed they should have been given 5 runs but the umps gave them the extra one, two for those run and four for the overthrow going to the boundary. 3 from 2. Going for the second and there’s a run out. 2 from one with one wicket remaining and the previous ball is repeated. Woods is miles out and it’s all square.
England had done a magnificent job of containing the New Zealanders. Admittedly the pitch helped and the Black Caps hadn’t exactly set the tournament alight with the bat but there was some excellent bowling. First up from Woakes and Archer. Both put in cracking opening spells. Then in the middle of the innings from Plunkett… once he’d changed ends. He was all over the place for his first two overs, going for 14. The next 8 overs went for 28 runs with three wickets. Big wickets. This wasn’t Anderson style moping up the no hopers. Williamson, the captain who had scored some 30% of all the NZ runs in the competition. Nicholls, the top NZ scorer on the day. And Neesham who they sent out for the Super Over.
Woods caused them problems and then Archer came back for his last five overs and tied the batsmen up in knots with bouncers and slow balls. To think there’s still some didn’t think he should be fast tracked in.
The difficulties New Zealand had with the bat were matched by England. Though their top man, Boult, went wicketless and had the highest economy rate of all the bowlers on the day, the lesser lights produced the stuff. They were helped by an England side that struggle when facing a run chase and can’t swing the bat. All summed up by the way Root played in the three balls that resulted in his dismissal. Never seen madness like that before from the Test captain. The only time they looked really on top was when, of all people, Butler played the sensible inning of ones and twos. With Stokes they brought it back, I know the predictor had England winning until right at the end but it didn’t look that healthy if you just added a couple of wickets to the score.
It was a lot like the ’92 final. Stokes as Fairbrother, now when he got out it was over for England. And like that match they kept finding the fielders. Mid on and mid off, both inside the ring, were repeatedly hit while the sweepers either side didn’t have to exert much effort to get the balls hit in their direction. Bar the excellent catch to dismiss Morgan. There was just one real misfield when Boult didn’t throw the ball back into play when he’d caught Stokes on the boundary but then stepped back onto the rope for a six.
Morgan. The Mike Brearley of this one day side. At the last World Cup he was hopeless with the bat. He actually wasn’t much better here. Take out the 148 he flat track bullied against played 9, lost 9 Afghanistan, he scored just 223 runs in 9 matches. 25 a match.
His captaincy, like that of Brearley worked. Switching Plunkett and getting Archer ready for that final over along with that Super Over. He could have taken the safe option with Woakes but he knew Archer was the one. Even if it looked to be going wrong.
England batted first and again it was an easy choice to put in as the first two batsmen. Butler and Stokes. If they could just get Stokes vertical. A score from every ball and 15 runs in total off Boult.
Now New Zealand needed 16 to win. Another tie and England get the cup because they hit more boundaries during the game, 26 to 17. Archer’s first ball is a wide, the next goes for two, the next for the cleanest hit boundary all day, as ball headed into the stands for six. 9 runs from two delivers. 7 from four required. Archer got back on track the next three balls went for five, one of them down to a misfield. There could have been run outs but they kept throwing to the wrong end. So again it came down to one side needing 2 from the final ball. And again coming back for that second the batsmen was well run out. This time Roy did throw to Butler at the correct end, he stretched and the game was over as the bails were dislodged.
After all these years, after all these golden chances, when they should have won it. Gatting’s reverse sweep. Blowing it against Pakistan.They finally managed it. Being the best over the four years before the World Cup means nothing until you win the ultimate prize. Just ask the New Zealand rugby union side that did it for so often. They might have needed that bit of niggle caused when they were questioned after a couple of poor losses in the round robin to get back on track.
But that was a hell of an ending. That was glorious. People think the trophy should be shared but you need a winner or what is the point of the whole tournament. But didn’t it used to be if the teams were tied the ones who had lost the fewest wickets won… NZ lost 8… England… all of ’em…