Ending perhaps the most epic encounter of limited overs cricket on one inconsequential technicality sums up how little the governing body ICC cares about the essence of the gentleman’s game.
There’s not an inch of doubt that the 2019 ICC World Cup final is the greatest ODI final ever played. With 241 each in 50 over and 15 each in the super over, there was hardly any difference in the performances of New Zealand and England. So how do you decide who wins? Apparently on a flimsy technicality that isn’t actually even as significant.
When 100 overs were not enough, the teams had to face off in a super over. That too resulted in a tie. What happened next was utterly injudicious. End the biggest game in world cricket in 4 years on the basis of one statistic – who fished for more boundaries.
When 100 overs were not enough, the teams had to face off in a super over. That too resulted in a tie. What happened next was utterly injudicious.
Adjudging a winner on the basis of hitting more boundaries is as flawed an end as you could give to any sporting fixture. Fans from across the globe expressed surprise, and disappointment at the rule made by ICC to sort out mess in such rare occurrences.
Some even felt that the ICC rules were in England’s favour, but that’s not the point we raise here. The rules were laid down before the tournament, when it wasn’t certain that England was in the final.
The rule is ridiculous – flawed, ambiguous and unfair – to the teams, fans and the game. Absolutely a joke.
Deepak Kaistha, Editor-in-Chief, DKODING Media
And it can also be agreed that it was unfathomable that it would have been used. But having said that, the rule was sheer ridiculous – flawed, ambiguous and unfair – to the teams, fans and the game, one and all.
If other sports did it like cricket
Imaging if the Wimbledon final which ended with Roger Federer and eventual winner Novak Djokovic tied at 12-12 in the fifth set was adjudged on the basis of who hit more aces instead of the tie-break. Or football sheds its sudden death and penalty rule to decide winners of tied games on the basis of who hit more shots.
If tomorrow, basketball stops going into overtime and is decided on the basis of who hit more 3-pointers or dunks. Or if hockey doesn’t go into sudden death and instead decides winner on the basis of who won more penalty corner.
The precedent the World Cup final sets for the game if flawed in its essence – a sporting event’s winner cannot be judged on the basis of better performance on a single parameter instead of the actual way the game is intended to end – through a difference of points at the end of the stipulated time.
Imagine if tennis decides winners on who hits more aces instead of tie-breaker, or tied football are decided on who hit more shots instead of penalties and sudden death.
Ending on a technicality – Loopholes
Hosts England hit 24 boundaries compared to 17 from New Zealand – which proved to be the difference as per the frivolous rules set up by ICC’s lawmakers. It is understandable that another super over and one after that is not a sensible option.
But then boundaries is hardly a parameter. And by no count is it more important than say wickets lost, runs ran, or even dot balls played. If you reverse the rule from boundaries to lesser number of wasted balls, it would have been New Zealand who were better.
If you reverse the rule from boundaries to who lost more wickets, it would have been New Zealand.
Even in number of wickets lost, New Zealand lost 8 compared to the all-out England at the end of the 50 overs.
But this again would be flawed. Because cricket is about prevailing with more runs made at the end of respective innings – however that happens. ICC’s un-cricketing take on how to decide winners in such rarity is hard for the fans of the game.
Loyalists took to social media to criticize and slam ICC for the mockery created by their ‘prudent’ lawmakers with blatant lack of foresight and right ideology regarding the concept of sport.
What ICC could have done instead?
It is argued that the World Cup needs to end with a final winner. But if the shabby law-making committee is unable to come up with a fair rule, why not have two teams who have performed equally well share the title. It happened with Sri Lanka and India in 2002 Champions Trophy – and it didn’t hurt anyone.
The way the final ended will forever seem unfair. Not just to New Zealand but the game itself. Even the hero of the final, England’s Ben Stokes couldn’t comprehend how the foolish rule left him apologetic and feeling inadequate on the night of his greatest sporting performance.
Stokes apologized to New Zealand for the outrageous sporting flukes that contributed to how the final played out, “I said to Kane Williamson, I’ll be apologising for that for the rest of my life.”
The title was shared between Sri Lanka and India in 2002 Champions Trophy – and it didn’t hurt anyone.
It could be continuous super overs, or even the idiotic bowl out we witnessed at the end of India and Pakistan’s 2007 ICC World Twenty20 Final. Even sharing a trophy is better than deciding on such a frivolous parameter.
There has to be a better way
For the neutral fan and lover of cricket, its difficult to digest how the game panned out. It needs immense pondering and introspection by the ICC – which makes enough money but doesn’t put in enough thought to keep the essence of sport alive in cricket.
The uninspiring end to a phenomenal match than New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham in a saddening tweet. The final was one of the greatest spectacles of sheer sporting determination and will power in how the two best teams in the world at this moment were unable to outclass each other even after 102 overs played between them.
But the unsporting law that decided the eventual winner will stay as a blot in cricket’s history. It puts a question mark on the current leadership of ICC and the resource and brains being put into evolving the rules of the game in this age.
It puts a question mark on the current leadership of ICC and the resource and brains being put into evolving the rules of the game.
Understanding how to ensure such an unfair result doesn’t foul the game in future may take days, months or even years of debating and brainstorming. But one thing is for sure, epic cricketing encounters cannot be decided on frivolous technicalities.
By: Chitresh Sehgal, Senior Editor, DKODING Media