With no more nails left to bite and a billion hearts beating fast irrelevant of their allegiances, Jofra Archer was ready to deliver the ball of a lifetime, with Martin Guptill on strike. 2 to win for New Zealand. A draw would have sealed the deal for England on boundary count. Even as Ian Smith was going bonkers in the commentary box, every individual watching the game found their fingers crossed. Over the course of the years, the Cricket World Cup had seen many dramatic final games, but how many come close to this?
14 July 2019 was no mere day. In the years to come, starting from today, people might not need a special reminder to make them relive what happened that day in London, especially for those who ardently follow cricket, tennis and F1. The eventual result might’ve disappointed a major chunk as a couple of fan favorites failed to go all the way, but the significance of the day will not be lost on anyone who witnessed it.
It was race day at Silverstone. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were set to lock horns at the Center Court and most importantly, cricket’s greatest crown was about to coronate a new champion. The inner vehemence in each of these events heightened to an extent where every anxious moment of waiting stung like a bee-bite.
The scenarios that unfolded at the Lord’s that day, each one as unbelievable as the other, represented an array of emotions ranging from euphoria, frustration and tension to utter disappointment.
One of the topmost umpires in Marais Erasmus misjudged the line of an LBW appeal, which cost New Zealand the wicket of Ross Taylor. Trent Boult, one of the very best fielders in the Kiwi unit, failed to control his footing while taking Stokes’ catch at a moment of all moments, on a day of days. Who writes such stuff for some of the best to face such a cruel moment?
It resembled a tale from the great Indian mythology – The Mahabharata. Karna gets a curse from Guru Parashurama, which would make all his powers useless at a moment when he needs them the most. Unfortunately for some of those men on the field, when they needed to be at their best, they produced a moment of horror and it almost seemed like they were cursed.
While there were plenty of “Oh no” moments, there were shades of individual brilliance that lost all the cake to the controversies. A brilliant cameo from Tom Latham, great bowling performances from Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett, a game-changing knock from Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes’ never-say-die attitude. There were the moments worth cherishing, but there another moment which topped most it.
Martin Guptill and the tale of two throws
It is impossible to recollect two moments in the field, one brilliant and other unfortunate but both with great significance, all coming from one arm of one man – Martin Guptill. On one day his throw from deep backward-square hits the stumps directly, from the acutest of angles. He provides a match-winning contribution with a moment of brilliance in the semi-finals against India.
Four days later in the World Cup final, another throw from the deep ricochets off Stokes’ bat, which got England from a must-score-boundaries situation to within catching distance. With a stroke of fortune, Colin de Grandhomme’s instincts to not collect Guptill’s throw resulted in a crucial wicket and destiny had it written that Stokes’ diving bat should come in the way of Kiwis and the World Cup.
There was plenty of channel switching to do, with some safety cars spicing up the race at Silverstone and Federer and Djokovic fighting it out with nothing separating them after 5 hours, which induced the first-ever tiebreaker in the fifth set of a Wimbledon final. Hamilton had a dream final lap, Djokovic once again rose against the boos and whistles, winning his 17th Grand Slam – all around about the time Trent Boult was bowling the final over of the main game.
It goes without saying that a major chunk of the neutral audience, predominantly the Indian audience, were rooting for the Kiwis. It was like luring a baby with a toy, then snatching it, giving it to him again and immediately snatching it back. New Zealand were here and there and everywhere, over and over again. It was just too much to take.
Memories captured in our hearts for eternity
Memories are gifts, which no bully can take away from you. The thrill of the moment and the sheer joy followed by many moments of anguish – they are eternally yours.
Our previous generation talks about the Lance Klusenar-Allan Donald mishap with great despair and growing up, watching Mark Boucher score that winning run in the “438 game” was a thrill no one could seize from us.
For all those who watched this drama unfold at the Lord’s that evening – from the umpiring bloopers, fielding mishaps and Jos Buttler stretching the life out his body to run Martin Guptill out – all of these moments have been etched in our hearts like a tattoo that can never be erased.
All those who were left scarred, I wonder where they found the moral fiber to work the next day. The action consumed every bit of our energy, left us all drained like a barren field. Thoughts of what could have happened as opposed to what did are major mood killers too, perhaps more haunting than the actual experience.
All said and done, there wasn’t something right about the result. England edging out their opponents on boundary count raises several different arguments, one of which is the glorification of scoring boundaries, which according to the rule books, trumps a sturdy shift on the field of working several singles and doubles, which requires similar intellect and consumes more energy.
Quite rightly, the boundary count rule was scrapped a few days later by ICC, but the damage was already done. Everyone wished we could go back in time, perhaps make both teams share the trophy as there was absolutely separating them.
The Super Over finishing in a tie felt like a signal from the gods, that there was no winner that day, yet Eoin Morgan had the moment of his dreams whilst Kane Williamson was left with a consolation, the player of the tournament. The irony was not lost among cricket fans when England lost the Ashes without actually losing it, which for many completed a circle that shouldn’t have started in the first place.
Feels horrible, doesn’t it? To have hope in your hearts, but not fate in your hands.
On this day, last year, we lived a lifetime in a matter of hours as England were crowned world champions in the World Cup final in the most astonishing circumstances.