England’s cricketers wrote their names into the history books at Lord’s, winning their first World Cup title in a final that will go down as one of the most dramatic ever produced in team sport.
It seemed as though nothing could separate them from New Zealand, with the sides battling to an unprecedented tie, both sides locked on 241 after 100 overs of nerve-shredding tension that cast Ben Stokes as the home side’s hero of the hour.
That paved the way for a super over, a six-ball shoot-out that had only occurred 11 times in international history and never before in an ODI.
Incredibly, the teams went blow-for-blow once again, Stokes and Jos Buttler hitting 15 off Trent Boult before Jofra Archer conceded 14 off his first five deliveries.
The Barbados-born bowler, the least experienced player on either side, held his nerve as Martin Guptill forced the ball into the off-side and came back for a second that would have taken the trophy.
Enter Jason Roy, who picked up cleanly despite unimaginable pressure and hurled a flat, decisive throw towards Buttler, who scattered the stumps as Guptill scrambled.
Tied once again, England triumphed on account of boundaries scored, a technocratic decider in a contest that proved impossible to settle any other way.
Tweet of the (yester)day
Archer’s past utterances on the social networking site have led to some mirth – there is seemingly a Jofra tweet for every available occasion. And an unforgettable World Cup final was no different.
The 500 club
After 44 years of hurt and three previous final losses, England are finally top of the world. That they won a first global 50-over title in such compelling and heart-stopping fashion means cricket is ultimately the winner. A finish that almost guarantees talk around the water cooler in many an office up and down the land.
Wood clocks on
Mark Wood became the third man to clock a tournament-high 95.7mph with the ball, amid New Zealand notching 241 for eight from their 50 overs. The 29-year-old equalled team-mate Archer’s top speed, with a blistering ball aimed at Henry Nicholls. Australia’s Mitchell Starc was the other man to hit those heights.
Guptill wasted review costly for Taylor
Henry Nicholls’ masterful review to escape an incorrect leg before decision must have clouded Guptill’s mind when he challenged a similar call against him, at the top of New Zealand’s innings. Because unlike Nicholls’ reprieve, with DRS clearly showing the ball clearing the stumps, for Guptill there was no wriggling free. Guptill should have taken his medicine and just walked – especially as later in the innings Ross Taylor copped a poor decision and had no option but to walk, with the Black Caps’ one review wasted by his team-mate. And so Taylor mustered just 15 and Guptill only 19. But who knows how many Taylor could have posted had he been able to raise a review of his own.
Too shot to handle
England’s chase fell squarely on the shoulders of Stokes as their innings came to a thrilling climax. He was showing strain in the heat of battle and looked to be a goner when Boult took a catch in the deep after the all-rounder had pulverised Jimmy Neesham down the ground. However, Boult, a gun fielder for New Zealand who held a similar catch to end the West Indies’ resolve earlier in the tournament, stepped on to the rope before under-arming to Martin Guptill. It was the first moment of fortune that would ultimately lead to England scooping the grand prize. The Durham man would finish on a Herculean 84 from 92 balls and despite feeling the heat he bravely returned to the middle alongside Buttler, the pair having put on 110 in England’s innings before putting on 15 in the super over.
There is a sense, albeit not a palpable one, that Plunkett’s blend of cross seamers and cutters, and banging it in back of a length, are under-appreciated. That is certainly not the case with England, who have been grateful to the broad-shouldered Plunkett being the leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers in the middle overs since the last World Cup. He was tellingly absent for England’s three defeats in the tournament so it was perhaps inevitable he would have some say in this final. His nip-backer castled Nicholls, who top-scored with 55, but it was a cross seamer that removed Kiwi dangerman Williamson, who was only able to feather an edge through to one that moved fractionally away from him, that scoops this honour. England had the big fish but only after a review.