Has the dust settled yet on the World Cup final? Or is it still swirling around Lord’s since Martin Guptill’s fruitless final ball dive unsettled the sloped earth?
Many have only just gathered previously incoherent thoughts. Two days on, it’s still difficult to comprehend that the most dramatic set of circumstances in any game of cricket were saved for the sport’s biggest day.
But they did, and it will almost certainly never be bettered. That’s a somewhat depressing thought for cricket lovers, isn’t it? We’ve likely just seen the most multi-layered, entertaining game of our lifetime. Cricket’s been completed. What’s next?
But two days of dissecting the absolute zenith of the one-day game, it appears a significant set of fans haven’t covered themselves in much glory. Debate about the numerous controversies emanating from the game, quite rightly, have been debated to the full extent.
The Ben Stokes ricochet-six and especially the absurdly arbitrary tie-breaker are a source of dissension that will continue for years. Was it fair? No. Should the finish have been set out differently? Undeniably, yes (super overs until it’s done, in case you were wondering).
But wading through the countless reactions on social media and these very pages, it’s wholly apparent that a certain group of fans are struggling to grasp the fact that England are actually World Champions. The collapse merchants and big-stage crumblers are no more, and they’re cradling the World Cup trophy.
And that, it seems, doesn’t sit well with many (particularly Australians and Indians) whose altruistic outrage on behalf of New Zealand isn’t fooling anyone. They’re clinging to the controversy to discredit the win. The more it festers, the more they’ll convince themselves that England’s victory is tarnished, flawed, or the best one yet – that it ‘doesn’t count’.
Resentment at the result, of course, would pale if the result was flipped. Should Kane Williamson’s side have received the level of luck England enjoyed, the outrage machine would have fizzled far quicker, and the English told to accept it.
Perhaps the most ironic thing to emerge from Sunday’s final is that the people directly affected by cricket’s cruellest ever twist of fate have seemingly taken the result better than some fans.
Guptill, a ten-year veteran of the New Zealand ODI squad, now two-time loser in a final (the second of which he was devastatingly involved in the very last wicket) has accepted the loss and moved on. Jimmy Neesham, his teammate at the other end, joked a mere six hours after the final ball that kids should take up baking rather than cricket.
Yet Robbo83 and Kohlifan100 are still apoplectic that England have walked away with a trophy that, in their ever so humble opinion, ‘isn’t theirs’.
Williamson received universal praise for a most sporting reaction to the cruelest of cards dealt. He said: “The rules were there from the start we have to swallow that up and accept it”. But the same fans praising his humble, generous nature haven’t heeded his advice.
Again, debate about the controversy is completely valid. The laws in place that decided the result need examining, and almost certainly will be changed.
Many fans, too, have simultaneously debated the absurdity of the tiebreaker and also accepted England’s deserved place at the top of the cricketing tree.
But it’s undeniable that a certain set of fans have used the controversy as a handy veneer to begrudge the victors.
The rules, as Williamson noted, were in place before the game started. They didn’t jump out in front of the opposing teams at the final moment. Further, countback alternatives would have delivered the same result. Head-to-head record, or the team that finished higher on the table – both far more suitable tiebreaker options – would have still seen an England win.
But that’s by the by now. New Zealand were desperately unlucky, as we well know, and beyond their immense disappointment are completely right to feel a sense of pride with how they went about their tournament.
They haven’t begrudged England their victory, which in truth capped four year of dominance in the 50-over format. They’ve accepted the result, and so should those out there snarkily discrediting the win.
Be more like Kane. And Martin. And Jimmy. And to be frank, the whole of New Zealand.