England end World Cup drought in spectacular style
I don’t know about ‘it’s coming home,’ because the trophy has never resided here, sadly. As to the precise ‘years of hurt’ number therefore, that’s tricky – cricket’s very first World Cup final took place in 1975, and we’d had no joy down the years – until now! England are ICC Cricket World Cup champions for 2019, having defeated New Zealand in an absolutely unprecedented thriller at the home of cricket, Lord’s.
Eoin Morgan’s side restricted the Kiwis to 241/8 in their allotted 50 overs, with three wickets each for Plunkett, and Woakes. No-one was particularly expensive, and for the Black Caps there was a half-century for opener Henry Nicholls and many useful contributions without anyone really cutting loose.
It looked very much like the blueprint NZ had used to take down the much-vaunted Indians in the semi – post a decent, workmanlike total and then put a stranglehold on England’s flamboyant matchwinners.
Roy and Bairstow only managed to put on 21 for the first wicket, after enjoying plenty of success earlier in the competition. No-one from the top order could get away, though Bairstow contributed a very useful 36. NZ bowled very well, and the tension was palpable. Cue Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, for the most important innings either had played, or might ever play, in an England shirt.
The pair put on 110 before Buttler was caught in the deep. Nails were being bitten freely. An asking rate of 45 runs off 27 balls flashed upon the screen. NZ were now clear favourites – what could Stokes in particular, now joined by Woakes, do to get England over the line?
Woakes skied one to the keeper – it was now virtually ten-an-over-territory. Plunkett joined the party – or would it be a wake? 34 from 19. Bums were squeaking everywhere. 11.33 runs an over, to snatch a first world crown in the 50-over format for England. Stokes smashed Boult through midwicket. More of the same, please. 25 from 13. Smelling salts needed. 12-an-over needed from the last 2.
Plunkett holed out to the safe hands of Boult – and it was looking decidedly bleak for the home side. Jofra Archer joined Stokes, who enjoyed massive good fortune in being caught in the deep but the fieldsman touched the boundary rope – 6 runs to Stokes. 15 needed from 7 balls. One only was required to get rid of Archer.
15 from 4. Nearly lights out for England. Towering six for Stokes. 9 from 3. No-one was leaving. Massive moment of luck for England – overthrows, courtesy of an effort at the stumps, deflected unwittingly by Stokes. 3 needed, from 2 deliveries. Rashid is run out by a mile – England 240-9. Two needed, from the last delivery. Stokes, luckily, on strike. One run only obtained, but another run-out. A 50 over tie!
A Super Over would be required to determine this 2019 World Cup. 3 batsman and one bowler, nominated by each side. Boult would bowl first, for the Kiwis. Stokes strode out for England, to face him, with Buttler. Highest scoring team in the one over would take the prize.
Three from the first, and now Buttler was on strike. Stokes was out on his feet. Ball 2 – and Buttler clubbed just a single to deep midwicket. Stokes – a mighty four through the legside. Next ball – just a single. Two for Buttler from ball 5 – and a great boundary to finish. 15 runs from England’s two batting heroes – a tough target for the Kiwis.
Jofra Archer was surprisingly chosen to bowl England’s Super Over – what pressure to heap upon the young man! Just the small matter of a first World Cup success for England riding on the next 6 deliveries, while of course NZ themselves needed 16 to win.
Guptill and Neesham were to take on Archer. Ball one – a wide – disaster. A couple are then run, plus the extra. A great start for NZ. Ball 2 – a massive 6, from a straight half-volley. 7 from 4. The Archer call looked odd, and was looking terminal – and a misfield then gave NZ two runs. 5 needed from 3 balls. Two more scored – now 3 needed from 2. One only run scored from ball 5 – so two now needed from the last ball. Tension off the scale.
Last ball – clipped into the outfield – they need a couple. Attempting a second, Roy threw expertly to Buttler, and the run-out was a formality. Unbelievable drama. Both teams scored 15, but England win by virtue of scoring more boundaries in the match.
A magnificent occasion, with an amazing outcome. England are World Champions. I don’t know about coming home, but it’s arrived all right – and it feels good.