England – World Cup Winners in the Most Dramatic Way!
Posted on July 15, 2019
I always wondered what it would be like for England to win something. I was born after 1966 but I do remember the rugby in 2003 where I felt like I was at someone else’s party. I quite like rugby as a sport, but I have never had anything other than a tenuous link with England regarding any passionate support. RFU people aren’t really my type if I am entirely honest.
I have loved football and cricket for as long as I can remember but football was the only game accessible to us as kids. I often wonder if Terry Withey or one of the Baughurst Boys football volunteers of my youth had started a cricket team, how good I would have been?
After playing a few times in my 20’s for Monk Sherborne, I continued as an armchair cricket geek up until my then nine-year-old son knocked few coconuts off a pole at fete somewhere in a field in Hampshire (to quote Jarvis Cocker). His interest in throwing things was furthered by England’s 2005 Ashes heroics. It was then my new journey into village cricket began.
Oakley Cricket Club offered my son and his friends a pathway into the game and allowed them to make new friends, young and old, sane and mad. It got me playing again, then coaching, before eventually taking up the enviable and indeed, unenviable task of becoming a chairman charged with keeping the show on the road.
England in a Final
What I never thought, was that one day, I would be sat in the clubhouse watching the English cricket team win the world cup in the most dramatic sporting finale I have ever seen. Only the football semi-finals against Germany in the 1990’s can rival it. England lost both in a flood of tears and bitterness; it was horrible.
Sport is so special because unlike a trip to the theatre or a concert, there is no script. An event starts with a with a blank canvas with only form and punditry as a loose guide to what may or may not happen. The problem with it is that you must be patient. It is littered with tedium and one-sided affairs that are low in entertainment.
Then, perhaps once in a generation, a day of madness like yesterday unfolds. You could almost feel it in the air as the strength of the July sun broke through a dank morning. England, the flamboyant hosts who on their day are easily the best in the world, versus a dogged, unglamorous New Zealand. A team who base everything around being hard to beat.
The Chaos Unfolds
Lords was set up beautifully. A hard pitch to bat on possibly
favoured New Zealand guts over English flamboyance. England bowled well and New
Zealand dug in, determined not to be involved in a one-sided embarrassment like
the one they experienced four years ago.
The Kiwis posted 241, a moderate effort but anyone who had studied them, knew it was competitive.
What happened thereafter increasingly became a blur. England looked gone at 86-4 with the dependable Root, Bairstow and Roy all back in the Lords balcony with their captain, Morgan. It was as close to an england collapse as you can come.
Enter Stokes, tough combative and determined, partnered by the showman, Joss Buttler. Enter on the scorecard a 110-run partnership that was often turgid, yet brilliant. However, when Buttler went to a great catch, it appeared that so had the nerve of the batsmen needing to stay with Stokes.
With balls and wickets running out, Stokes clubbed the ball to the boundary. It was caught but inexplicably, Southee stepped on the boundary and fell over. A six was given. Then as chaos ensued with both teams scrambling to the victory line, a run out attempt hit the bat of Stokes sliding into his crease. It raced away to the boundary for an additional four runs. An England win was written in the stars, surely?
The last ball gained just one run and a run-out. The final
of the cricket world cup was a tie, meaning each team had an Over each to
decide the outcome. By then my nerves were shredded and I can barely recall the
madness of it all. Lords, home of the stoical and pompous, was now a cauldron
Commentators lost all sense of duty. The members of my dear little club held their heads in their hands. They paced the bar along with our guests, the ‘Help for Heroes’ cricket team made up of recovering servicemen. No one knew where to look or what to say. All sense of sanity was gone, so quite how the players managed to cope, I really don’t know.
The Super Over
Defending 16, Archer bowled a wide first ball and was
clubbed for a six shortly after. The six was a sickening blow, one from which Archer
would surely not recover. He did though, stopping the Kiwi batsmen in their
tracks with some great death bowling.
So, the last ball meant New Zealand needed 2 runs to win. A clean hit to Roy, a single ran, then back for two. Silence for a second. Then the ball fizzed back to Buttler behind the stumps…OUT!!! Lords and village cricket clubs erupted up and down the land as mental exhaustion exploded into magical euphoria. I’ll say it again. No stage show or concert can compete with that.
Amongst it all, huge credit must go to New Zealand. They fought
to the end and lost with the kind of dignity that many people believed no
longer existed in modern sport. Not one complaint and no bitter words. Just
warm congratulations for their opponents.
New Zealand must now try to go and make sense of it all and learn to live with their regrets. The England players will be tested too. They must come to terms of what has happened to them. They now must deal with the fact that their sporting lives will never reach such heights of euphoria again. That can be tough for top sports stars, just ask the 2012 London Olympians.
It was one of those days that will never be replicated and will be played back forever and a day. For me as a village club chairman, it was just great to feel part of it with people who love a game that offers so much but is constantly struggling to survive at village level. As 2019 World Cup winners, England have given the game the boost it needs and deserves.
What a day that was…what a day!