I am not going to write about all the controversy regarding yesterday’s result. The gist is this: New Zealand were hard done by some only tenuously logical ICC rules — as well as a really bad umpiring decision on the leg byes in the final over — but that no one would really care if it had been Australia or India which, I don’t know, is kind of rude? I get it, everyone loves New Zealand, but no one deserved to lose the way they did yesterday.
That said, they did lose. Or, at least, they didn’t win. This is going to be harsh but it’s not the ICC’s fault that New Zealand didn’t score 10 more runs in their innings. And it’s not the umpire’s fault that they let Stokes and Buttler bat England into the game. I feel like, in a lot of ways, it’s akin to an NFL team blaming a loss on a missed field goal. It’s not sour grapes, as much as it is failing to see the forest for the trees. I realize I might get hammered for this, but it’s my gut reaction to all the talk today. And I love New Zealand. The people, the team. Kane Williamson’s captaincy yesterday was brilliant. I had never seen anything like it before. They are a likable and very, very good cricket team. And I think, maybe, they would agree with me that the loss wasn’t the ICC’s or the umpires’ fault. And I think we can all agree that the ICC needs to have a long look at its rule book as soon as possible.
Anyway, I said I wasn’t going to talk about it, but here I am doing it anyway. The best recap on the day can be found by James Morgan over at The Full Toss. He more or less sums up the general sentiment on the internet today: everyone feels bad for New Zealand but that shouldn’t take anything away from England. And, more importantly, the ICC is a bit of a joke with its simply odd new rules every year. He also has a go at the ECB, who I think is unfairly missing out on a lot of criticism thanks to how the match played out. Morgan reminds us that they pulled the chair out from under their domestic 50 over tournament, despite the fact that the ODI has been the country’s marquee format for the last three years in the lead up to the World Cup. But now they are abandoning it for the hair brained Hundred. Have a read, it’s worth it.
Other than that, I am working on a longer post about the game that I hope to have done later in the week. Mostly, though, I am just basking in what yesterday brought us. I know that it didn’t end in the ideal manner — oh how I wish they had only given England five runs of the miss field and it had been four needed off of two and Rashid had either hit a six to win it or been clean bowled to put the weight on Wood to win it — but it was still oh just something to behold. Long before the controversy, it was still the greatest match any of us had ever seen. The general consensus at the bar was: “holy shit this is something fucking else.” The Stokes-Buttler partnership, Williamson’s aforementioned captaincy strangling the England batsmen into a fine pulp, grinding them down into the dirt to bring home glory for their tiny country on the other side of the world. The whole day was brilliant. The sun came out in the afternoon. The shadows grew long. And the ending might have been a farce but when it happened I couldn’t help but applaud. You could seen the pressure lift and fall away from the England players’ faces. The weight of history, of a nation, bore down on them, but they just kept going, shook off the Kiwi stranglehold and won the whole damn thing.
7:30 in the evening on the northwest edge of the world’s greatest city, all those overs, all those deliveries, and it came down to a matter of feet and a lot of luck, there in the long shadows, Buttler dancing away into the night. What a moment. What a match.
I just wish it had ended with a Rashid six.