New Zealand lost the World Cup final by zero runs! After 102 overs of cricket, the World Cup final was decided on the number of boundaries hit. Extremely harsh, but the rules were drawn up before the tournament.
New Zealand had their supporters among the neutral fans, not just because they were underdogs, but because of the way the team play their cricket. Even in the tensest of situations, the Black Caps play in the spirit of the game. Take Trent Boult’s catch, for example. Ben Stokes had launched one, and as soon as Boult touched the rope, his teammate Martin Guptill signalled 6 runs.
Or the deflection off Ben Stokes’ bat, which resulted in 6 runs off the overthrow. Any other captain or team would have argued with the umpires about the incident. Not Kane Williamson though. He moved on with the game. Remarkable, considering the circumstances.
The next day we found out that according to the rules, Stokes’ deflection should have cost only 5 runs, instead of 6. And that it should have been Adil Rashid on strike instead of Stokes. That surely would have impacted the game, even cost New Zealand the World Cup.
The trophy could have been shared, but that rarely happens in sport, in which one winner is the norm. Just as few remember the second man on the moon, in sport few remember the runners-up. But this World Cup final is likely to be remembered for both the winners and the losers. No one will forget New Zealand’s contribution to one of the greatest cricket matches of all time.
Williamson was probably the best captain in this tournament. Eoin Morgan was a close second, but he had a few star players to help him out. Williamson might not have had a star-studded team, but the way he marshalled his troops and made full use of his resources was remarkable. His field placements, bowling changes and game plan were spot on. The key was that he never lost his cool, even in the most tense circumstances.
He had players contributing in many ways, and even though they did not make a single 300-plus score in the tournament, they still managed to win crucial matches. This group is the definition of a team. They backed each other.
This final wasn’t like the 2015 World Cup, when the Kiwis were blown away by Australia in the finals. Here they fought and took England to the brink. It will be a tough defeat to swallow for Williamson and his boys, but they should remember that they did not lose that final.
For youngsters watching the game, this New Zealand team is the perfect example. Play it fair and follow the rules and always have a smile on your face. Sportsmanship goes a long way. It wouldn’t have been easy for Williamson to speak at the post-match presentation, but he handled it with class and dignity. It will be a difficult recovery for this New Zealand team, but they can always draw on the positives from this tournament and build for the future.