After losing 3 games in the group stages, England’s stay in the World Cup was beginning to look short-lived. Following the embarrassment of the 2015 tournament, history looked like it was going to repeat itself once more.
Eoin Morgan’s men faced the Aussies in the semi-final after losing to them by a considerable 64 runs earlier in the campaign. They then returned to face them with a clear aim, and boy did they deliver, thrashing the Australians by 8 wickets in a pure dominative display at Edgbaston.
The focus was then on the final against New Zealand. Ignoring the fact that England beat them in the previous stage, the England team were wise enough to know that the previous result counted for nothing.
Looking back, it was clear that England were aware of the threat that New Zealand faced before going into the game. Morgan said in his post-match press conference that New Zealand were the strongest team in the group stages and also ‘the hardest team to beat’.
The game had the nation gripped from start to finish. Who said cricket wasn’t good to watch?
The game wasn’t short of excitement, but the final over was nothing like the sport had ever seen. England needed 15 runs to win from the last over. After Stokes hit a six, nine runs were needed from just three balls.
Here comes the crazy part. Stokes hit again towards midwicket before Guptill acted and sent it straight back to the wicketkeeper’s end. Stokes was desperate to complete a second run and as he dived towards safety, the ball struck his bat which sent it for six.
Despite the England players abiding by etiquette and choosing not to run, the ball crossed the boundary which meant umpires had no choice but to signal that six runs had been scored.
The final moments continued to carry the drama. England needed two runs from the final ball, and after scrambling to make the final leap, they were caught out which left the match tied at 241 runs a piece after 50 overs.
Then came the super over, cricket’s answer to sudden death. England’s batting pair in Buttler and Stokes managed to gather 15 runs before New Zealand stepped up; they needed 16 to secure World Cup victory.
Time to bowl. Neesham and Guptill were assigned the task of batting for New Zealand, whilst Jofra Archer was entrusted to bowl, a huge task placed on his young but capable shoulders. However, after an early six from Neesham, things were beginning to look bleak.
New Zealand now needed two runs from the final ball. Guptill hit to midwicket, it was then quickly collected by Roy who threw to Buttler. He dived to the stumps, leaving Guptill in no man’s land.
That was it, England had somehow done it. World Cup glory for the first time in the history of the sport!
England not only had the task of beating New Zealand, but they also had the chance to capture the nation’s hearts. They couldn’t afford to let it slip through their fingers on home soil.
Thankfully, they delivered the goods.
Not only had England won the World Cup for the first time ever, but they had done it on free-to-air television. Something which hasn’t been done since the ashes of 2005.
Sunday’s game will now act as a paving stone for kids all around the world to get involved in cricket. Seeing England win in such a dramatic style will be a huge incentive to attract young kids to this incredible sport.
Michael Vaughan wrote a fantastic piece for The Telegraph which perfectly summarises how significant this event will be for the future of cricket.
‘’These England players have no idea of the impact this World Cup win will have – life will never be the same again.
‘’It was only about four or five years ago that I realised just what an impact winning the 2005 Ashes had on other people’s lives. It is only when a 15-year-old comes up to you and says he took up cricket because of what you did when he was a young child that you start to realise the power of winning.’’
Cricket needed this. Will we now see a generation of inspired kids playing cricket in the park? I hope so. Because why can’t kids aspire to be like Stokes and Archer? These guys are national heroes and athletes of the highest level. They should be idolised by young children in the same way footballers are celebrated.
It’s remarkable that we’re currently reflecting on this special moment, because the way the game unfolded will almost certainly never happen again.
They may not know it now, but if in 10 years English cricket becomes a staple sport for the younger generation, you can almost pinpoint that success straight back to that one special day at Lord’s on a Sunday afternoon…