On this day, exactly a year ago, two teams, one of which was not among the bookmakers’ favourites, clashed in the 2019 World Cup final that will forever be remembered as one for the ages.
It was a game that couldn’t have been scripted better, barring the climax. It had its fair share of heart stopping moments that had the spectators on the edge of their seats at a packed Lords.
With the home of cricket providing the perfect setting and ambience, hosts England and New Zealand, neither of which had ever lifted the World Cup, yielded not a quarter, to the extent that the scores were tied at the end of the regulation 100 overs.
It was the Super Over that was to decide the fate of the final, but that, too, finished in a tie. It was almost criminal that a game as closely fought as this should eventually be decided by a boundary countback rule. But so it happened and England were declared winners.
The Kiwis, who no one had fancied to play the title decider, were aghast and heartbroken as they had blown another chance to lift the coveted trophy.
However, there’s been a raging debate since on whether the Kiwis were beaten fair or by the quirk of the rulebook. And, a year on, the debate continues.
Twice one Short
With 15 required of the final over, Trent Boult had the ball in hand and Stokes was on strike.
The first two balls remained scoreless as the Kiwi quick bowled two perfect yorkers.
Of the third ball, which was bowled full outside off, Stokes went down on one knee and struck it over mid-wicket for a six.
With the equation down to 9 runs of 3 balls, Boult bolwed a full toss on middle stump which was hit to mid-wicket.
As stokes dove to reach the crease for the second run, Martin Guptill directed his throw to the striker’s end.
The ball richoched off Stokes’s bat and screamed past the ropes. Six runs were added to the English tally.
It was later said that only five runs should have accrued as the run on which the ball was deflected shouldn’t have been counted.
With the equation now 3 off 2, Boult bowls a yorker which Stokes hits towards long-off. However, in trying pinch a double, his partner Adil Rashid is run out.
However, Boult, who took the bails off, realised, though belatedly, that if he had thrown at striker’s end, even Stokes would have been short.
With 2 required off the final ball, Boult bowls another full toss. In trying to run another double, Mark Wood is run out with the scores level.
Not so fair
The Super Over pans out similarly, with New Zealand having 16 to get and finishing one short.
As England is found to have scored more boundaries in their innings, they are declared winners.
However, as the Kiwis stood deflated, with some even in tears, many questioned the boundary countback rule.
They said England and New Zealand should have been declared joint winners as it would have been a fair result for both.
However, the Kiwis, understandably pained, couldn’t make peace with the result. Days after the nail-biting finale, all-rounder Jimmy Neesham tweeted, “Kids, don’t take up sport. Take up baking or something. Die at 60 really fat and happy.”
If there were any lingering doubts on how the Kiwis took the defeat, this tweet would have put all of them to rest.
Sometimes, the game isn’t fair. A classic illustration would be how South Africa were literally robbed off a shot at glory against England in the 1990 World Cup by the Duckworth and Lewis system.
Last year, saw the Kiwis at the receiving end. Till the next edition of the quadrennial showpiece offers them a chance at redemption, it’s a long and painful wait for them. Today’s certainly not a day that the Kiwis would like to be reminded of.