Sunday, July 14, was probably the most fabulous day in sports history. A Cricket World Cup final, Wimbledon final, and British Grand Prix were all happening at the same time. Never been that ‘back’ button used so frequently in a day for switching between the channels and the remote control became your friend, isn’t it?
Let’s switch to the Cricket channel. Go back to the moment when England required 24 runs off 12 balls, what do you see? Does it remind you of the famous World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa that happened in 1999? Were you nervous or relaxed as your team was not part of this exciting final which could lead to a mini heart-attack? Even as a neutral but as an adherent fan of cricket, you couldn’t just sit and relax and watch it as just another cricket game, right? The match ended as the best match ever in the history of one day international.
Did you feel sorry for New Zealand? Should the World Cup trophy be shared as New Zealand didn’t lose by runs or wickets but by the number of boundaries scored? What if Stokes’ bat didn’t come between the ball and stumps in the last over? What if the umpires had not made the error of that 1 run because of overthrow? Had New Zealand won the game then? You never know. In between all these ifs and buts, the World Cup final was tied twice, at the end of 100 overs and then at the end of Super Over. You can console yourself but can you console a dejected Martin Gutpill?
In the end, with all the unfortunate things that happened during the final, I felt this was not New Zealand’s destiny to win the World Cup. How Martin Guptill took a review when he was plumbed in front of the wicket, a review that costed Ross Taylor’s wicket. Ross was not out, but the review was already lost with Guptill’s wicket. Santner didn’t try to hit the last ball of the New Zealand innings. Jason Roy got umpire’s call in his favor in the very first over of England’s innings. One of the most excellent boundary fielder, Trent Boult, crosses the boundary line after taking the catch of Ben Stokes in the penultimate over. That Guptill’s throw that cost them six runs, the most misfortunate event of the World Cup added with an umpiring error. Trent Boult’s last over, and the Super Over, their best bowler in the tournament, gave 29 runs in those two overs. How Nicholls allowed an extra run in super over because he couldn’t see the ball due to sun rays falling directly into his eyes.
Moreover, it was always England’s World Cup. They played like a champion since their early exit in World Cup 2015. Scored most 300 plus scores than any team in the last four years, their batsmen scored the maximum hundreds in less than 70 balls in ODIs in that period. They entered the World Cup as the favorites, as the number one ODI team. Playing at the home turf, in front of the home crowd, won the world cup games against India, Australia, and New Zealand for the first time since 1992. They even scored the most 300 plus score in the edition, scored the highest total of the tournament. They had one of the best opening pairs, probably the best middle order of the competition and without a doubt their most significant World Cup bowling attack. As they say, ‘a proper team’ to win the title.
You feel sorry for Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Neesham and other Kiwis. They played like gentlemen and loved by everyone but unfortunately, this was not a Bollywood flick where only the nice guys win in the end.
This World Cup Final will stay with us forever, a life long memory. We will be telling the story of the best ODI match to the next generation, how we watched it LIVE and went crazy. How we love the Kiwis but didn’t hate England for winning the title.