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Monday, January 27, 2020

World Cup 2019: Before last ball, Ben Stokes thinks of Mushfiqur Rahim

The Indian Express looks at the two teams that stood tall till the end and moments that’ll live forever in memories of every cricket watcher.

By: Express News Service | Updated: July 16, 2019 8:38:34 am
Ben Stokes, Ben Stokes England, Ben Stokes World Cup, World Cup 2019, England New Zealand, Indian Express Ben Stokes stands on the field after the presentation after winning the Cricket World Cup final match between England and New Zealand. (AP Photo) 

Ben’s big note to self

In the eye of storm, in the middle of the greatest game of cricket where he was the protagonist, just before the last ball of the match, before it went to Super Over, Ben Stokes was thinking about Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh wicketkeeper. “Just before that last ball, all I was thinking of was Bangladesh in the T20 world cup game (against India in 2016).” Needing, few runs, Rahim had opted for a big shot and was caught at the deep midwicket, and India went through to the semi-final.  Stokes says he remembered that before the last ball at Lord’s.

“Don’t try to be a hero and try hit it for six. Try get one run and take it to the Super Over. That was my process. Emotions were running high that time.”

He would get run out, attempting the second run, though. What was he thinking then? “I was pretty annoyed with myself. I had to switch my head back on and had to get the jo done for my team (in the Super Over), he said yesterday during the celebrations at The Oval.

“To be honest it has been an incredible feeling. It hasn’t sunk in yet. The feelings, yesterday and today, we will hold on to forever. We managed to win what we wanted to. We deserved to be in the final for all that we have done for the last four years. Obviously, we would have been devastated if we had not managed to win that trophy,” he said. “That’s how professional sport is. You just have to flow with the emotions of winning games and losing games. We are going to enjoy these two days because we deserved it. When the time for The Ashes comes, we will put our head around and try and win that as well.

(Written by Sriram Veera)

Roob of the green

A little sprinkle of magic separated England and New Zealand that both scored 256 (241+15) runs each in 51 overs. While the debate on the boundaries rule and The Throw will rage on for years, Eoin Morgan was asked if it was some of the luck of the Irish that the Dubliner brought to the England team. The captain – no brash bloke himself – who’s been shaded only because the Black Caps are led by the endlessly charming Kane Williamson, brought more than the leprechaun’s lime shamrock to the field. “We had Allah with us as well. I spoke to Adil Rashid, he said Allah was definitely with us. I said we had the rub of the green. That actually epitomises our team. We’re from quite diverse backgrounds and cultures and guys grow up in different countries. To actually find humour in the situation we were in at times was pretty cool,” he told the press later.

As adorable as the Kiwis have been, the England team made a massive point even as UK negotiates its Brexit ramifications. The multi-cultural team was hailed by many – Morgan had represented Ireland in international cricket before switching to England, Ben Stokes, who played the heroic knock in the final, was born in New Zealand; Jason Roy, was born in South Africa and England’s spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are third generation Pakistanis.

“With a captain born in Ireland & players with roots from Barbados to Pakistan, South Africa to New Zealand — fantastic & fitting to see our uniquely English cricket team win the World Cup here in our proudly diverse, global sporting cap,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative MP, got called a ‘twat’ after writing on social media that “we clearly don’t need Europe to win”, a comment that brought a landslide of criticism, for both his ignorance and acute foolishness in hijacking an inspiring victory by the most diverse team to make a narrow point. He was first reminded of his captain being Irish, then schooled about how Joffra Archer was fast-tracked with a rule-relaxation by ECB, while Guardian quoted Rees-Mogg’s fellow Conservative MP Ed Vaizey saying his colleague was guilty of “slightly misjudging the mood”, before adding that “while you’re on, the English captain is Irish”. Writer Alastair Campbell suggested that “perhaps instead of making a silly Brextremist point, offer congratulations to the Irish captain, the NZ-born man of the match, and the Barbadian bowler who got it over the line”.

Kiwi who’s a World champ

The phone at the Stokes household in Christchurch has been buzzing ever since New Zealand were pipped by England by the slimmest margins in the World Cup final. Gerard Stokes was proud of his son Ben’s achievement at Lord’s on Sunday evening, but the downside to it was that he has been at the receiving end of taunts about being ‘the most hated father in New Zealand.’ “People have been calling since morning to tell me that I’m probably the most hated father in New Zealand. That was pretty tongue-in-cheek, I hope it was anyway,” he told 1 News. The Stokes had migrated to England in 2003 where Gerard took a rugby league coaching contract, while 12-year-old Ben began to chalk out his path in the game of cricket.

Drama, but it wasn’t the Saffers

The ‘super over’ was designed to find a winner in case a match ended with the scores level. Beyond that, the ‘most boundaries’ rule comes across as a vague decider. Kane Williamson was asked if it’s fair for such a rule to decide a World Cup final. “I suppose you never thought you would have to ask that question and I never thought I would have to answer it,” came his response. “The rules are there at the start. No one probably thought they would have to sort of resort to some of that stuff. But yeah, very tough to swallow.”

Eoin Morgan affirmed that he needed to be reminded about the rule. “When we took to the field,” was when England knew the rule. “I asked what would happen because we sat in a meeting pre-tournament and then when it got close to the chase we started refreshing our minds whether it was going to be a Super Over or not and then communication from [fourth umpire] Aleem Dar up to the changing room before we batted and then reaffirmed when we went out to field.” So the most number of boundaries hit (England 26, NZ 17) eventually decided the champions. Who said it isn’t a batsman’s game?

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