England prevailed in what’s being heralded as the greatest ODI of all time. Fueled by a storyline no script writer could have forseen, intertwining missteps, deflections and a little known rule that ultimately decided the fate of cricket’s pinnacle. Such is the unpredictability of live sport.
After 100 overs of cricket, both teams finished on 241 and we had no champion. After an entire day of battle, wiping the slate clean and giving each side one over to prove their credentials as champions is the cruelest way we could decide a Final, right? Wrong.
Have you ever heard of a boundary countback? No. Me neither. Don’t worry, the players, officials and broadcasters hadn’t either.
Not before the World Cup, but rather during the most crucial stage of the entire tournament, someone thought it would be a good idea to dust off the old playing conditions and see what happens if we finish with a tied Super Over.
In the event of the teams having the same score after the Super Over has been completed … the team whose batsmen hit the most number of boundaries combined from its two innings in both the main match and the Super Over shall be the winner.
With one ball remaining in the Super Over of the World Cup Final, New Zealand were on 14 in reply to England’s 15. A tie would put cricket’s most coveted trophy in the hands of Eoin Morgan, with England’s 26 boundaries superior to New Zealand’s 17.
Martin Guptill worked the ball to space deep on the leg side and took off with his countries first ever World Cup waiting for him if he made it back to the striker’s end. As he turned for the second, Jason Roy seamlessly picked up the ball and whizzed it to the waiting Jos Buttler.
With the pressure of Guptill steaming home, Buttler took the ball and shattered the stumps flawlessly. Snatching the World Cup by bare centimetres and sending England into a feeling-you-can’t-describe driven frenzy; sprinting, hugging, and falling all over the ground.
Buttler breaks the stumps and Kiwi hearts
How it Happened
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, with Martin Guptill (19 off 18) showing plenty of positive intent early as he and Henry Nicholls (55 off 77) got off to a respectable start. Their early momentum was buffered when Chris Woakes (3-37) had Martin Guptill dismissed LBW, taking New Zealand’s review with him.
Henry Nicholls and eventual player of the tournament Kane Williamson (30 off 53) swung the match back in New Zealand’s favour. Forging a sturdy 74 run second wicket partnership taking the Kiwis to 2-103 when Liam Plunkett (3-42) found Williamson’s edge.
Plunkett struck again 4 overs later claiming the prized wicket of in batsman Nicholls, leaving New Zealand at 3-118 just past the halfway stage of their innings.
Tom Latham (47 off 56) was the only other notable Kiwi batsman as he led New Zealand’s late push for runs with a steady flow of wickets falling around him.
New Zealand ultimately concluding their innings on 8-241. A defendable target nonetheless, but they were certainly on high alert after England’s top order ripped through Australia’s star studded bowling line up just days prior.
The New Zealand bowlers stood up to England’s firepower early and nearly had Semi Final hero Jason Roy (17 off 20) back in the pavilion with the opening ball, Roy’s savior ironically being umpire’s call on DRS (considering his Semi Final outburst). It counted for little though as he was eventually sent packing inside the first 6 overs.
The aggressive, quick scoring batting that has become trademark of the trailblazing nation over recent years was nullified as New Zealand’s pressure turned up the heat. Jonny Bairstow (36 off 55) and Joe Root (7 off 30) struggled through overs 6-17 to finish with a 31 run second wicket partnership that included three consecutive maidens.
Joe Root’s was finally put out of his misery by Colin de Grandhomme (1-25), with a strike rate of just 23.33, it seemed his mistook England’s baby blue for the whites of Test cricket.
Jonny Bairstow and skipper Eoin Morgan (9 off 22) fell in relatively quick succession as England slumed to 4-86 just after the 23 over mark.
With too much at stake, the hosts refused to give in as eventual hero and man of the match Ben Stokes (84 not out off 98) and Jos Buttler (59 off 60) put on a crucial 110 runs for the fifth wicket. The game defining partnership was bought to an end by fiery quick Lockie Ferguson (3-50), but the damage was already done with England thrusted right back into the thick of the contest and a breath taking finale set up.
When all-rounder Chris Woakes strode to the middle, the equation read 46 runs needed with 31 balls remaining and five wickets in hand. While Woakes (2 off 4) didn’t last long Ben Stokes continued his devastating hitting, but it appeared to be too much for one man alone as England still required 22 runs off the final nine balls.
It looked as if the World Cup was New Zealand’s when England’s final fighting hope Ben Stokes was caught just inside the rope by Trent Boult.
After catching the ball, Boult took a fateful step back and his spikes were met with foam padding. Six runs.
Boult's efforts to throw the ball back were in vain
The equation for England now reading 16 runs as oppose to 22 runs required off eight balls, whilst keeping danger man Ben Stokes intact at the crease.
Trent Boult’s reprieve looked as though it would be nothing but a scare for New Zealand as the next four balls hailed just a lone run.
Needing 15 off 4 Ben Stokes stepped into action, sending his saviour Trent Boult over mid-wicket for six before picking up another six unconventionally.
After belting a ground ball into the outfield, Stokes was coming back for the second run when he desperately dived to make his ground. The throw ricocheted off his bat and raced away to the unmanned boundary for an additional four runs. Stokes immediately raised both hands in apology and reportedly told the umpires that they didn’t want the runs, maybe it was the remorse of tearing apart his birth country getting to him. Regardless, six runs were awarded.
Stokes' sportsmanship couldn't reverse the damage of the Final's latest twist
England were now in the box seat needing three runs off the final two balls. Trent Boult’s perfect execution of yorkers and clutch Kiwi fielding producing back to back run outs to end the innings, saw England finish all out for 241 from their 50 overs. Super Over time.
Ben Stokes (8 not out off 3) and Jos Buttler (7 not out off 3) were sent out to face Trent Boult (0-15) in the climatic tie breaker. After an edgy start Stokes was able to find the rope through mid-wicket on the third ball, and likewise Buttler on the final ball. Ending the Super Over with 15 runs on the board and setting the Kiwis 16 for glory.
With a wide and a six dished up early in Jofra Archer’s (0-15) over, New Zealand required just seven runs to win off four deliveries. Jimmy Neesham (13 not out off 5) whittled the chase down to two runs required off the final ball. Guptill – facing his first ball of the Super Over – worked the ball to space deep on the leg side and the rest is history.
Cricket’s founding father and host nation England finally ending years of agony to claim a taste of World Cup glory 44 years after the tournament’s inception, with no barer margin to do so possible.
A shattered New Zealand earnt the respect of everyone, putting on a brave face and refusing to complain about the boundary countback or unjust luck they were served. The good blokes of world cricket.
It was a truly amazing, heart-in-your-mouth spectacle. No one could have dreamt a more dramatic circumstance for England to – finally – earn their four years on the throne as champions of world cricket.