World Cup 2019: Easy to slam, tough to fix
Australia's captain for the first-ever World Cup summit clash v WI in 1975, understands New Zealand's angst but wants to see more solutions than criticism for the manner in which England became champs
Just as the exciting first final (Australia v West Indies) in 1975 was the game that was needed to establish World Cup credentials, Sunday's scintillating game (England v New Zealand) was a must to emphasise the continued importance of 50-over cricket. The only downside on a wonderful day's cricket and entertainment was that one team had to lose in such excruciating circumstances.
What happened wasn't ideal but it was the playing condition at the time and both sides knew the consequences. There has been criticism of the tie-breaker used to decide the winner but it's easy to be critical, much harder to come up with a better solution.
England finally wins the World Cup and New Zealand's interminable wait continues. In the greatest World Cup final ever, fans were treated to two extra overs of cricket as the teams hand-wrestled for victory in a Super Over. And after all that cricket the result was then only decided on boundaries — those hit in the game and the Super Over — when England scraped over the line. As you would expect in such dramatic circumstances there was irony in the form of the game's hero; Ben Stokes, born in New Zealand, using every ounce of his skill and energy to bring the ultimate cricket prize to England.
England players with the World Cup trophy at The Oval in London on Monday. Pic/AFP
He, first of all, dragged England back from the precipice of 86-4 when their captain was dismissed. In the company of Jos Buttler, Stokes added a 110 run partnership to have England believing again. However, Buttler fell to a superb catch as New Zealand's fielding never faltered and the pendulum swung back in favour of the visitors.
Then in the cruellest twist of fate with England needing 15 to win off the final over of scheduled play, Stokes hit a genuine six and that was followed by another six off the bat but four of those were a deflection that resulted in four overthrows. Needing two to win of the last ball Mark Wood was run out trying to complete the victory lap and the teams were headed for extra time.
After Stokes and Buttler reprised their partnership to set New Zealand sixteen to win in the Super Over, the Kiwis found themselves in the exact same position as England — two to win off the last ball. When Jason Roy's throw reached Buttler in time for him to whip the bails off and run out Martin Guptill, England's agonising 44-year wait to win the trophy was over.
Just as the exciting first final in 1975 was the game that was needed to establish World Cup credentials, this scintillating game was a must to emphasise the continued importance of fifty-over cricket.
The only downside on a wonderful day's cricket and entertainment was that one team had to lose in such excruciating circumstances. There has been a criticism of the tie-breaker used to decide the winner but it's easy to be critical, much harder to come up with a better solution.
The result of the preliminary round match between the two sides could have decided the winner and this would've produced the same victor — England. There have been suggestions you keep playing Super Overs until someone is a clear winner. That begs the question: Do you use the same players for each Super Over? And what happens if you keep having a tie — that would eventually dilute the actual 50 over the contest. What happened wasn't ideal but it was the playing condition at the time and both sides knew the consequences.
All this eventual drama was set up by intriguing first innings as New Zealand battled hard to set a demanding target. At a time when England desperately needed to break the threatening partnership between Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, Eoin Morgan employed not only a change of bowler but change of ends ploy to ambush New Zealand.
Liam Plunkett has been the most successful bowler in the period between the 11th and 14th overs since the 2015 World Cup and he emphasised that skill with a dual breakthrough.
Plunkett's opening spell was wayward and costly but when moved to the Nursery End he found his length and just enough movement in dislodging the New Zealand captain. Mark Wood then followed up with a fiery spell that brought about the unlucky end of Ross Taylor.
Once again the flaws of the DRS were exposed when Taylor was left without a review with the ball shown to be clearly missing the stumps. From there it was left to Tom Latham to guide New Zealand to a similar target they had successfully defended against India.
It was not to be for New Zealand, a team to be admired for their tenacity and determination to extract every ounce from their skills. For England as a team, this was a relief after forty-four years of agony and for Stokes, the player-of-the-match award was retribution for that final T20 over against the West Indies and a moment of madness in Bristol. Here was a man to be admired for his ability to overcome serious setbacks.
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