Monday, 15 July 2019

Final

I started getting nervous on Saturday evening and barely slept through the night but that may have been down to the group of cyclists doing some kind of annual night bike ride round the town.  Fucking lycra clad cycling Nazis, OK they weren't blocking the roads and causing as much disruption as they do in daylight but why did they have to be such noisy bastards?  Seriously, hollering up the street at each other and one pillock had a fucking stereo!

I didn't have time to feel the nerves this morning as I had to get to work.  Once again I set up the radio in the office and used Crininfo out front.  I spent most of the day pacing between the two.  The game was delayed but NZ won the toss and elected to bat.  I felt a bit relieved as I didn't feel up to listening to England facing up to the Kiwi bowlers quite so early in the morning.

The game is underway with Guptill flailing and getting away with it.  He's had a crap tournament, surely he won't come good now?  No.  Woakes gets him, 29/1.  This brings Williamson in and together with Nicholls the runs start to pile up.  I feel sick.

Plunkett comes on to bowl and makes things happen, first he gets Williamson then follows it up shortly after with Nicholls for 55.  The score is 118/3 after 27.  This seems pretty good for us but I still feel terrible.  It may not be a spectacle but I just want England to steam roller them in this final, like we did the Aussies in the semi.

New Zealand aren't getting away but they are accumulating, Ross Taylor is a dangerous player but Wood has him LBW and it's 141/4.  If we could just run through them now and ease my nerves...  Latham holds things together and the tail all chip in a few.  Woakes and Plunkett finish with three wickets apiece and all England's bowlers have done well to restrict NZ to 241 or have they?

England's innings starts and I'm more nervous than at any stage previously.  The wicket is getting worse and our openers find it hard to score...  Roy falls caught behind and it's 28/1.  But Bairstow is finding the boundary and together with Root the score is ticking over now.  If Root bats through we will win.  When I left work the score was 55/1

The journey home was delayed and agonising, when I walked into the living room I was dismayed to find the score was 84/3 which soon became 86/4.  The pitch is shocking, no one can get the ball off the square.  Is this deliberate?  Is ICC trying to negate England's strengths?  That's it the game is gone, we can't win it from here.  Why did I start to care about ODI cricket again?

I had to go out again to collect Isaac from karate (red belt well done!) but while I waited Stokes and Buttler pushed the score on.  It was nerve wracking watching the score tick over on the cricinfo app on my phone but at least the score was building.  A situation that seemed hopeless was being restored...  Just when I walked back into the house Buttler was caught for 59, the score 196/5.  "That's the game gone then" says I. 

By now the nerves have nearly gone because honestly I've given it up.  New Zealand are going to win and fair play to them.  Ben Stokes is still there and even though the wickets are falling at the other end he is somehow keeping us in the game.  We can't win it but at least we're making a fight of it.  It's like 1992 again, we've been the best team throughout the tournament but we're going to fall at the final hurdle.

We're in over 49 and Stokes launches one long, he's caught on the boundary and that's it but NO!  Boult steps on the boundary rope and it's six!  We should be done but we're still in this!  This is the best ODI team we've had since '92 and we deserve this!!!

The final over, two dot balls but then Stokes smashes the ball into the crowd for six.  Next ball, scampering back for two and the ball rebounds off Stokes bat and flies to the boundary for overthrows totaling six!  The last two balls bring two attempted 'twos' and two run outs.  After fifty overs the scores are tied and we have a super over.  My nerves are totally shot to bits.  This is agony.

Stokes and Buttler come out, three off the first ball, somehow they hit a couple of boundaries, scamper a bit and score 15 runs.  England's superior boundary count means New Zealand must score 16 to win.

Archer bowls...  the first ball is given a wide!  The second or is it third? ball goes for six.  The game is gone now...  Well played NZ.  But Archer holds his nerve, prevents boundaries and a run out of the last ball, (Roy to Buttler), has me jumping around the room screaming!!!  England have somehow won the world cup!!!

We have to admit that the Kiwis were probably the best team on the day and England had some enormous slices of luck but over the course of the tournament England were the best team.  Indeed England have been the best ODI in the world for a few years now.  But still even this one eyed England fan has sympathy for Kane Williamson and New Zealand, they didn't lose the final but they didn't win the world cup.  They behaved like sportsman and gentlemen, these aren't people to resort to sand paper.  New Zealand had the game won but luck thwarted them.

Apparently online Aussies are whinging that "England didn't actually win the world cup...".  They choose to forget the famous tied semi final of 1999...
Stuff that, England won the world cup, it's about time we had some luck for God's sake!  I've loved this tournament with all its ups and downs, smashing Australia in the semi was glorious, even better when we effectively eliminated them in 1992, a day I'll never forget.  Did I enjoy that match?  Not for a second, not until the final ball had been bowled, then I went berserk.  I have consistently enjoyed watching England play ODI cricket over the last four years.  In 1992 we had a great team but this current England side is without the best we've ever had, by a distance and could well go on to be regarded as the greatest ODI side of all time.

Image result for world cup 2019

Now my nerves are returning to somewhere near normal we have an Ashes series to come.  Whatever happens in that we'll still be world champions!




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