An excellent ESPNcricinfo piece with an Osman Saimuddin by-line headlined “What the luck! New Zealand and the randomness of life” has this to say:
You can analyse events down to their minutest detail. This happened because he did this and he did that and next time he did this and he did that and something else happened. You can plan, analyse, mine crazy data that helps you understand so much more but you can’t do jack about luck. Luck happens to you, you don’t happen to it.
In another piece by Nagraj Gollapudi, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is quoted as deeming it “a real shame” that, in such a wonderful game of cricket, there should be such an unsatisfactory end.
“Make sense of it? I think that’ll take quite a bit of time actually,” he said. “Such a fine line. (…) All in all it was a real shame that the tournament was decided in the way it was after two teams went at it.”
Unsurprisingly, he suggests that, after two ties, the trophy should ideally have been shared. Half a loaf is better than none—especially when the original loaf was claimed by someone else.
No less unsurprisingly, skipper Eoin Morgan has little to offer by way of comment; after all, it his England side who now own the loaf.
He told an interviewer that England’s winning the title meant everything to his team and everybody who had been a part of the process that led to the eventual triumph. He identified as key factors the careful planning, the hard work, the dedication and the commitment and he conceded that “the little bit of luck today really did get us over the line.”
Interestingly, Morgan sees it as “a little bit of luck.”
Headlined “England make their luck count, New Zealand left yearning for more,” another ESPNcricinfo piece with a group by-line tells us this:
England were the second-most unlucky team of the tournament (…). They had a net of seven events going against them. The fact that they made it to the final in spite of the rub of the green going against them through the league phase of the tournament shows that a place in the final at Lord’s on the 14th was well deserved.
England, the story says, “made use of whatever good fortune came their way. [They] are second only to India in those terms, having capitalised on those events to score 199 runs more than they would have scored otherwise. South Africa, on the other hand, didn’t capitalise on whatever luck came their way: their batsmen made their reprieves count for only 28 additional runs.”
By the way, in case you are in doubt, West Indies finished at the top of the lucky team list—and still finished ninth of ten teams!
No marks for guessing which team was the unluckiest. Here is what the unsigned piece says:
And that is where New Zealand really suffered in comparison to other teams in the tournament. They were on the right side of such lucky breaks on fewer occasions than their opposition. If we consider only the events that created a wicket opportunity (whether they resulted in a wicket or should have), and thus were likely to have a clear-cut impact on the result of the game, then New Zealand had a net event count of minus nine in this World Cup. This means over the course of the tournament their opposition benefited from nine more reprieves to their batsmen than New Zealand did. West Indies, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh each benefited by eight more events than their opposition.
Another element worthy of note is this:
The chanciest event of this World Cup in that sense was the drop of Eoin Morgan by Dawlat Zadran off Rashid Khan. Morgan could have been dismissed for 28 off 25 balls had that catch been taken. Instead, he went on to score 148 off 71 balls. He plundered 116 runs off the next 46 balls he faced in that match.
However, despite being the top English batsman on the list, Morgan was only able to finish in fifth place. The top slot went to India’s Rohit Sharma.
Sharma, by the way, along with Dinesh Karthik and Gautham Gambhir, was quick to signal displeasure with the way the eventual winner was decided.
Perhaps the reaction that best captures the mood, however, came from Scott Styris’ seven-word tweet.
“Nice work @ICC,” the New Zealander cheered sarcastically, ”you are a joke!!!”
From all over the cricketing world, indeed, the reported reactions make clear that the boundaries countback as a tiebreaker mechanism fails to satisfy.
In the Gollapudi piece cited above, New Zealand coach Gary Stead expressed the view that “a 50-over competition being decided on a one-over bout” was “not quite right” and “a hard thing.” But he conceded that it might be currently the only way to pick a winner until the ICC devised a better solution. He liked the idea, proposed by Sidharth Mongia and, independently of him, recommended by Sachin Tendulkar, of super overs becoming cricket’s equivalent of football’s penalty shootout.
The fans too had their say.
“England never won the World Cup,” posted Hoorpi, pulling no punches. “They tied, Count back BS.”
English may not be Eyzoff’s forte but there is no doubt about the strength of his feeling.
“Grats England on winning,” his post read. “Grats to New Zealand on making the same amount of runs and loosing ???? after 6 weeks to bad they couldn’t take 5 minutes for another over.”
Sounding a rare discordant note, Cristiano Arrogantaldo asks a pertinent question:
“You don’t see people asking for the football world cup to be shared if it ends level after 90 minutes so why should the cricket world cup be shared?”
But it is Jarrod Kimber’s eye-catching stat in “Nerve, skill, errors: how the greatest ODI finish played out” that may yet prove to be the ultimate stab in the back for the Australia/England/India-dominated ICC.
“This was England’s 2992nd boundary since the last World Cup,” the ESPNcricinfo writer notes, perhaps in an indirect attempt to suggest that the Andrew Strauss/Morgan-initiated “See ball, hit ball” policy was ultimately what justifiably won their countrymen their first World Cup title. “From 1 to 11, they all get it done.”
Might that explain why the almost universally criticised rule carried the day at the ICC meeting at which it was adopted…
…and eventually brought the coveted trophy “home” to England after 11 unsuccessful tries?