Perhaps the greatest final in the history of the ICC Cricket World Cup, England & Wales 2019 will be forever-remembered as one of the most memorable contests of all time. It was England on their home turf who got the job done, but only by the skin of their teeth. New Zealand’s never-say-die attitude almost got them over the line, unfortunately luck just wasn’t on their side as England got home by a bizarre-rule after a tied super over left the Black Caps short of a maiden-World Cup title. Cricket was the real winner on the day, it ticked just about every box!
One man stood in the way of a New Zealand World Cup victory, ironically it was all-rounder Ben Stokes who was actually born in the same country which is a headline in itself. After a forgettable 2018 for the then-troubled all-rounder, Stokes has well & truly earned back the respect of both his teammates and nation as he guided England home to a World Cup victory at Lord’s yesterday.
The match wasn’t without its controversies, from a mutual perspective England got the rub of the green as luck appeared to be on their side. Going all the way back to the 34th over of New Zealand’s innings, star middle-order batsman Ross Taylor was given out lbw to Mark Wood who thundered one into his opponents pad. Umpire Marais Erasmus was quick to give Taylor his marching orders, only to find out that the ball was rising over the stumps by a considerable amount. On 15 off 31 balls at the time, Taylor was the key player the Black Caps needed with Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls all back in the sheds.
New Zealand managed to crawl to 241/8 in what was tough batting conditions, Chris Woakes (3/37) and Liam Plunkett (3/42) did a considerable amount of damage with the ball for England leaving the Black Caps just short of a par-total on this Lord’s wicket. Plenty of starts for the New Zealand batsmen, however very-few were able to go on with their innings. Against a red-hot England batting line-up, the hosts looked in a comfortable position ahead of the run chase.
What took place in the next fifty overs couldn’t have been predicted, entertainment-plus is just one of many ways to describe what took place in the final innings of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. With the belief stronger than ever in the New Zealand camp, this total was more than defendable given the quality seamers they had up their sleeve. Both Trent Boult and Matt Henry left Jason Roy all at sea as the aggressive right-hander struggled to get on top of the Black Caps speedsters. The Roy dismissal was forthcoming as he gifted New Zealand their first wicket via a thick edge through to Tom Latham behind the stumps. After that, star No. 3 Joe Root and skipper Eoin Morgan fell at crucial stages in the innings which put New Zealand back in the hunt.
Colin de Grandhomme’s gentle medium-pace was hard to get away as the big-bustling all-rounder restricted England to just 25 runs off his ten overs. Desperate for a partnership, it was the in-form Ben Stokes and mercurial Jos Buttler at the crease with a huge task on their shoulders. Albeit slow-going, Buttler started to up the scoring rate as Stokes continued to battle with his timing. From 4-86 to 5-196, a century stand between the pair left the Black Caps sweating bullets right before Buttler decided enough was enough. Taking matters into his own hands, Buttler carved one up in the air out to cover where sub fielder Tim Southee took a brilliant diving catch. Dismissed for 59, Buttler’s dismissal may have sparked some panic as Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett didn’t last long at the crease.
The scenario was becoming all to obvious for England, Ben Stokes was the only recognized batsman left at the crease needing 24 runs off the last two overs. Visibly-fatiguing, Stokes did his best to hit the fence but had little-success. Jimmy Neesham was brilliant in the 49th over, just nine runs came off it including two wickets in the process. That left England with 15 runs required off the last over to win the World Cup. With the ball in Trent Boult’s hand, Ben Stokes was handed the task of taking on New Zealand’s best-death bowler. Two dot balls to start the over had the crowd on edge, you could feel the nervousness surrounding the players. SIX! Stokes goes down on one knee and hits Boult over the midwicket boundary. A huge roar goes around the ground, the next ball however was the most controversial of the lot. Clubbing the ball out to deep-midwicket, Stokes sprints back for the second as Martin Guptill lets fly at the keepers end and hits Stokes diving bat which deflects all the way to the rope! Unlucky is an understatement, 3 runs off 2 balls needed. Excitement, angst, fear, nervousness – emotions were all over the place at this point. This time New Zealand complete the run out of Adil Rashid, but Ben Stokes is still on strike for the last ball needing just two runs to win the World Cup. It wasn’t to be, Stokes smacks it down to long-on and immediately turn for the second only to look back and see Mark Wood short of his ground when Boult dislodged the bails. MATCH TIED, SUPER OVER!
If the regular innings was enough to give you a minor-heart attack, good luck surviving the super over. Electing to go with their winning-combination in Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, the pair walked back out to the crease in a sudden-death situation. Both Stokes and Buttler managed to strike two fours in the over against a weary-Trent Boult who did his best to hit the block hole, conceding 15 runs making it anyone’s game. This was it, if New Zealand equaled England’s 15 runs it would mean that they lose by default given the hosts hit more boundaries in their innings, a rule that was brought in after the 1999 World Cup finish. Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham walked to the crease, Jofra Archer the chosen man for England in an extreme-pressure situation with the ball. A wide to start the over led to 9 runs coming off the first two balls of the over, the Black Caps looked ominous! Another four runs off the next two balls courtesy of Neesham left New Zealand needing 3 runs off the final two balls…
A mistimed ball into his body saw Neesham scoot up the non-strikers end for a single, all of a sudden the pressure was on Martin Guptill who held New Zealand’s destiny in his very own hands. Could you have possibly asked for a better finish to this match? 2 runs required off the final ball. Archer hones in on Guptill’s pads as the Kiwi opener flicks it leg side for an instant two, ONLY TO BE CAUGHT SHORT OF HIS CREASE BY A MILE! What a retrieve from Buttler to drag the ball back and take the stumps, jubilation for England, heartbreak for New Zealand. A World Cup classic finally comes to an end!
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.