Monday, 14 October 2019

England crowned world champions

England cricket team celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2019 Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord’s in London | Photo Credit: AFP

LONDON: England won their maiden Cricket World Cup title in dramatic circumstances on Sunday at historic Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The match went into a Super Over, following a tie in the final after Eoin Morgan’s side finished on 241 all out in pursuit of New Zealand’s 241-8. The Super Over also ended in a tie but England lifted the trophy due to a tie-break rule because they hit the most boundaries.

England’s Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler took 15 off Trent Boult’s over. Jofra Archer bowled England’s over against Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham, who smashed a six off the second ball. With two runs required off the final ball, wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and Jason Roy combined to run out Guptill as he came back for the second. Both sides finished on 15 so England won due to a tie-break rule because they hit more boundaries.

After defeats in previous finals against Pakistan in 1992, Australia in 1987 and the West Indies in 1979, it was a cathartic moment for English cricket. Morgan and his team-mates were cheered to the rafters by the ecstatic capacity crowd at Lord’s as they joined Bobby Moore’s 1966 footballers and Martin Johnson’s rugby union team of 2003 as England’s World Cup winners.

England’s triumph was the culmination of a remarkable rise over the past four years. Following their dismal first round exit at the 2015 World Cup, England’s then director of cricket Andrew Strauss embarked on a root-and-branch reform of their one-day international set-up. Adopting an aggressive game-plan under Morgan and Australian coach Trevor Bayliss, England’s rebuilding plan paid off spectacularly.

They had already climbed to the top of the ODI rankings heading into the tournament and, after plenty of highs and lows over the past six weeks, they eventually justified their tag as the bookmakers’ pre-tournament favourites to win the World Cup. It was not an easy ride for England, whose defeats against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia in the group stage put them on the  brink of elimination.

But Morgan’s men kept their cool to defeat India and New Zealand and book a last-four spot before crushing Australia in the semi-finals and surviving one final test of their nerve against New Zealand. While England celebrated, it was another heart-breaking loss for New Zealand, who also finished as runners-up in the previous World Cup in 2015 after losing to Australia in the final.

Morgan said: “There wasn’t a lot in that game, jeez. I’d like to comisserate with Kane. The fight, the spirit they showed. I thought it was a hard, hard game. This has been a four-year journey, we’ve developed a lot over those years, particularly the last two. To get over the line today means the world to us. The guys in the middle keep us cool, the way they play, the experience. It’s calming at times. Not a lot between the teams. Just delighted we’re lifting the trophy today. As long as he wasn’t too cooked [sending Stokes back out for the Super Over]. Full credit to those two boys and Jofra. Every time he plays, he improves. The world is really at his feet at the moment.”

His rival captain Kane Williamson was named Player of the Tournament. “Look, it certainly wasn’t just one extra run,” said Williamson. “So many small parts in that match that could have gone either way as we saw. Congratulations to England on a fantastic campaign. It’s been challenging, the pitches have been a little different to what we expected. Lots of talk of 300-plus scores, but we haven’t seen many of those. I’d like to thank the New Zealand team for the fight they showed to keep us in the tournament, and get us this far. A tie in the final. So many parts to it. The players are shattered at the moment. Obviously it’s devastating. They’ve performed at such a high level through the tournament.”

Ben Stokes was named the Player of the Match. “I’m pretty lost for words,” he sais. “All the hard words that’s gone in over these four years, this is where we aspired to be. To do it with such a game, I don’t think there will be another like this in the history of cricket. Jos and I knew if we’d be there close to the end, New Zealand would be under pressure. Not the way I wanted to do it, ball going off my bat like that, I apologised to Kane. We backed the new kid, Jofra Archer, the talent that he’s got, he showed the world today. The lads, in this one-day team, the Test team, my family, their support has been massive. Now I’m just looking forward to tonight, mate.”

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