I don’t believe the Black Caps truly lost the ICC World Cup final last Sunday. They were robbed of their victory, plain and simple by a whole cocktail of factors. I think every Black Caps supporter and true-blue Kiwi will agree with me on this.
A nail-biter of a contest that went to the wire and beyond with tied scores (not without a controversy that will rage on forever) and a tied super over score (which would have been unnecessary had the umpires been more circumspect). Only to be decided by a bizarre rule basing the winner on the number of boundaries scored. What were they thinking when they wrote this rule?
And why just base it on the number of boundaries? Why not wickets? Catches? Runouts? It’s just plain absurd. Who made these rules? And who agreed to them? Why not decide on a more rational yardstick based on who lost more wickets getting to that first tied score (Black Caps lost 8; England were all out), which would really be the fairest way to deal with the situation.
After all, declaration of wins in all forms of cricket are always by either runs or wickets. So, if the runs were tied, why not see who lost most wickets while getting to the tied score? Such a rule would most definitely be fairer and far more rational than the sheer absurdity of awarding the win on who got more boundaries.
Then there is the more serious issue, though controversial again, of an extra run awarded by the umpires when Guptill’s throw got deflected to the boundary. It should have been five runs – not six, say many of the world’s cricketing gurus and expert commentators.
And this is to say nothing of Ross Taylor’s wrong lbw decision by Umpire Murray Erasmus as seen from TV replays. Sadly, the Black Caps had no remaining reviews at that time. But then that’s the nature of the beast that’s cricket.
However, the amazing grace with which our beloved Black Caps led by Kane Williamson, the coolest-headed skipper in world cricket, dealt with this most unfortunate situation for them as well as all Kiwis everywhere, has made them legends and won them all the world’s hearts. Everywhere they have been acknowledged and feted as the real winners. Just plain unlucky not to take the cup home.
There couldn’t have been a more appropriate choice for Player of the Tournament than the Black Caps captain. Not merely because of his second highest runs average of 82.57 in the tournament or his incredibly cool and collected leadership on and off the field in sharp contrast to some of the aggression and wanton gesticulations we have seen from other leaders on the field but because sheer number of hearts he won for his fantastic team.
Fortunately, there can simply be no dispute on the number of hearts Williamson and his Black Caps won across the world. They are the clear winners on this count – and we don’t need to apply a quirky Duckworth Lewis-type cricketing rule to determine this. We simply know. The world simply knows. The Black Caps have won the world’s hearts. There’s a word for that in several Indian languages: Hriday Samrat (Emperor of hearts). And they’ve done it second time in a row.
If Black Caps couldn’t lay claim to the Cup, England simply can’t say, hand on heart, that they really and truly earned their so-called win. It’s a ‘win’ they just can’t be convincingly proud of.
What can they say? ‘Won’ by how many runs, again? Zero. How many wickets? Zero (actually, lost by minus two). So how did they ‘win’? Oh, just because they hit more boundaries. So, would you say it’s a convincing victory – or a victory at all?
As someone cleverly commented on social media, England’s long habit of messing with boundaries of one or another kind has wrought so much penury on so many throughout history – no one knows this better than those from the Indian subcontinent.
The Black Caps should have been the victors. At the very least, the honour should have been shared. Both teams would have been acknowledged winners in what would have been a unique moment in history.
Instead we have a ‘winner’ who can’t hold their head high with the true, earned pride and glory of a real conquest.