Yeah, I take the piss out of it all the time. I think I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet. If any of my mates ask on the phone, “What are you up to?” I just say “I’m hanging around, waiting for a bit of luck, mate.”
He pauses and chuckles.
(Melinda Farrell, “The Irishman who captained England” in the May edition of The Cricketer Monthly).
Williamson is dropped more often than other batsman, which Martin Crowe feels is a result of passive body language. “Fielding sides are not sharp when he is at the crease, often spilling catches that would otherwise be taken if a sharper focus was created,” Crowe says. Perhaps that is true, but his admirers need no more reason than karma.
“Who deserves the luck more than Kane?” they ask.
(Andrew Fidel Fernando, “The Cult of Kane”)
It’s the start of a new cycle, the World Cup; it’s also the end of the old.
At the end of the 2019 edition, all things considered, the best team won. Perhaps not the better team on the day but certainly the best team in the tournament, the best team, indeed, over the last four-year cycle.
But now that Eoin Morgan’s England have finally got the job done—football pundits take note and shudder—and deservedly claimed their first World Cup title, some are bidding to make the world believe that the victory was earned not by fair means but by foul.
Not so ESPNcricinfo’s Sidharth Mongia. His Tuesday piece headlined “Why count boundaries to determine who wins a World Cup?” identifies the real problem and proposes three possible solutions.
At game’s end, retired Guardian Sports Editor, Valentino Singh, for instance, was already convinced—and incensed!—about the inadequacy of the rule that determined the outcome.
“If the desired outcome,” the former College captain wrote on the QRC WhatsApp chat after the game, “is for the best team to win after the official match is completed, then the ICC rules are flawed.”
For him, the fact that New Zealand lost only eight wickets to England’s ten should oh so obviously have given Williamson’s side the trophy.
“The team which performed best at the conclusion of the 50 overs,” he continued, “(…) did NOT win the World Cup.”
I too would have liked to see Kane Williamson’s side emerge victorious. And I have openly set out clearly, right HERE on Wired868, the reasons why I—and, one imagines, many of my generation—am incapable of supporting England. But I take issue with any suggestion that New Zealand were robbed. England, I think, deserved their victory.
I do, however, agree with those who say that England were lucky. By way of complement, I add the maxim whose paternity has been variously attributed to several golfers, including Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Billy Casper, that “The more I practise, the luckier I get.”
Here is what Melinda Farrell, in the article cited at the top, writes of England’s play under Morgan, not in CWC19 but over the four years between it and its predecessor:
“The initial plans were, the top four would have to score 60 runs or more each at a strike rate of 80 in one in four games,” Morgan said, explaining England’s strategy of that era as they tried catching up with the other sides. “Five, six and seven had to strike it at 100 and [each] get to 25 [once every four games]. I was batting at five and I reckon I was averaging maybe late-30s or mid-to-late 30s, but my aim was to get to 25 at a strike rate of 100.”
Note the available detail. This is no guesswork with approximations and other elements left to chance; it is no broad outline, created on the basis of some general quantity surveyor-type estimates. No, this is a blueprint finely calibrated to deliver success—with measurements taken with a slide rule!
The victory is the best illustration of the truth of a local maxim cited in a previous article.
Pushed to the verge of elimination, their margin for error thinner than a razor, they dug deep, dug themselves out of the grave dug for them by Pakistan and Australia and came back from the dead to overcome the Kiwis in the final.
Not, I repeat, without luck.
Here is Mongia summarising and commenting on the incident that has so coloured people’s view of the eventual result and caused post-final emotions to run really high:
That four overthrows might go off the bat of a diving batsman from a throw sent in from the deep. No change in direction, no awareness of the ball, just a full-length dive that hits the ball with enough momentum to send it for four extra runs. The batting side doesn’t want these runs. They are actually apologising. If it didn’t go to the fence, they wouldn’t run. But if it does go to the boundary, the umpires have no choice but to award them four extra runs.
Former international umpire Simon Taufel subsequent observation only added fuel to the flames. He pointed out that Marais Erasmus and Kumar Dharmasena, his two colleagues who officiated in the final, erred in awarding England six runs when the ball ricocheted off Ben Stokes’ bat and ended up on the third-man boundary.
Taufel, however, is categorical.
“It’s unfair on England, New Zealand and the umpires,” he declared, “to say [the error] decided the outcome.”
But it’s certainly not unfair to say that it is really foolish for something so unnecessary, so easily fixable to so clearly affect the outcome of a game that means so much to so many people.
And to point out that the Kiwis, left with the shitty end of the overthrows stick, also did not help themselves. Or, crucially, did not try at a critical point in the proceedings.
Many commentators have conveniently omitted any mention of the end of the Kiwi innings when Mitchell Santner had a brain fart, a West Indies moment, some might say. Why would you not try to take a run off the very last ball. whatever the circumstances? What do you have to lose?
As things turned out, a correct answer might be the World Cup!
Compare the end of all three innings that followed. Trying to steal runs, Mark Wood was run out off the last ball of regulation and Adil Rashid off its predecessor. It matters not that England knew their target. Batting first, you do not know your precise target. What you do know is that every run makes the opposition’s chances of getting there harder.
Admittedly, it’s not at all certain. But, in a match of such fine margins, 242 might arguably have denied a deserving Morgan…
…and put the trophy in the hands of an equally deserving Williamson.