England vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup final: When agony of not losing is greater than pain of losing

The joy of victory and the agony of defeat are an essential part of sport. But the agony of not losing the match is greater than the agony of losing could have ever been.

Michael Wagener, Jul 16, 2019 08:28:48 IST

I normally write articles in the third person, trying to be dispassionate and as neutral as possible. My aim is to write with a New Zealand focus rather than a New Zealand bias. This is not going to be one of those articles. I don't think it could be.

I'm a cricket fan, but I'm also a New Zealander. It's surprising, but not losing the match feels worse than losing it. England won the title because of the way they scored their runs, not how many they scored.

Effectively they were rewarded for being more conservative in the field. Instead of being prepared to give up a boundary to try for wickets, they played it safe, and that's why they were awarded the title.

England vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup final: When agony of not losing is greater than pain of losing

Martin Guptill (C) was inconsolable after the match. AFP

And in a cruel twist of the rules, New Zealand were penalised for being adventurous. Kane Williamson's fields that incentivised risky shots from the English openers allowed them to score more boundaries but fewer singles. England played out more dot balls, waiting for the boundary. And that's why England are world cup champions. Not because they won, but because they scored them in a certain way.

Cricket is supposed to be about how many runs you score. When someone edges for four, people think about how many runs it’s worth, not about how it got to the rope. There’s an old saying, “it’s about how many, not how you get them’’.This match was decided by how, not how many.

But it was only decided by how because New Zealand didn't score more than England. It might not have needed to be decided by how if Mitchell Santner had tried to hit the last ball of the innings rather than leaving it.

It might have been decided by how many if Martin Guptill hadn't been convinced into reviewing a plumb LBW.

It might have been decided by how many if Marais Erasmus had not got Ross Taylor's LBW decision wrong.

All of those borderline things might have gone New Zealand's way but they didn't. New Zealand almost won and that's why it hurts so much.

The game might not have needed a Super Over at all if Boult hadn't stepped on the rope. But he did and we needed the Super Over. That was almost out, but wasn’t.

The next ball was almost a four. If the fielder had let it go, it would have been a four and we wouldn't have needed a Super Over. But instead he threw it in, it ricocheted off the bat and went for six. We almost didn't need a Super Over. We almost won the World Cup. But we didn't.

We also might not have needed the Super Over if the umpires had gone upstairs to check if it was five or six.

It might not have needed a Super Over if Santner had thrown the ball to Ben Stokes’ end and run him out instead of Adil Rashid off the penultimate ball. But he didn't, and we needed a super over.

If, if, if, but, but, but… one of the ways of processing the grief is to look for something to hang on to.

But it is also important to remember that we might not have needed a Super Over if the marginal leg side wide call against Jofra Archer wasn't given. But it was, and we needed a Super Over.

We might not have needed the Super Over if the ball that Lockie Ferguson bowled that appeared to go over Jos Buttler's head had been called wide, rather than one for the over. But it wasn't, and we needed a Super Over.

In a couple of weeks’ time, hopefully, I'll be able to console myself with the fact that we played very well and almost won. Right now, however, "almost" hurts more than anything.

The joy of victory and the agony of defeat are an essential part of sport. But the agony of not losing the match is greater than the agony of losing could have ever been.

Right now I don't want to watch another cricket game. It hurts too much. But I know that this will pass.

Before long the Ashes will be played, New Zealand will be touring Sri Lanka, and I'll be glued to the TV.

Because there is actually something worse than the agony of losing due to a technicality. Something far worse. The agony of missing out on watching a great match.

Imagine if I'd slept through it? Or, imagine if I'd turned off the TV when we needed 16, and Guptill had gotten home to win it for us? Now that would have been an agony I could never have gotten over.

Updated Date: Jul 16, 2019 08:28:48 IST






Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3778 105
5 Australia 2640 98
6 Sri Lanka 3462 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 6939 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 4756 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 India 8099 261
5 Australia 5471 261
6 New Zealand 4056 254