Every World Cup winning team needs a certain amount of luck but England enjoyed an outrageous moment of good fortune in the 100th over of the final against New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday, paving the way for the brilliant Ben Stokes to snatch a tie off the last ball and then ensure a tie in the Super Over with Jos Buttler.
England were awarded the victory and their maiden World Cup crown on a count-out, having scored more boundaries in the initial 50-overs contest.
England had begun the final over needing 15 to win but Trent Boult started superbly, with two yorkers that were dot balls.
Stokes (84 off 98) then struck back by slog-sweeping a massive six, but England still needed a daunting nine off the last three balls when fate intervened in the most extraordinary fashion.
Stokes smeared a low full toss to the midwicket boundary, Martin Guptill, he of the crucial direct-hit run out in the semi-final, swooped and took aim and the batsman had to dive to make his ground, but the ball deflected off his bat and ran away past the wicketkeeper to the boundary.
It meant England were credited with six runs, and, as apologetic as Stokes, who was born in New Zealand, was, he had been handed a massive helping hand in his efforts to see his side home.
It meant England needed three off two balls and two more blockhole deliveries from Boult meant Stokes could only get singles, with both Adil Rashid and Mark Wood being run out at the bowler’s end trying to complete second runs, leaving the final as a tie.
Unlike South Africa’s famous semi-final when the World Cup was last held in England in 1999, this time there was a Super Over.
Stokes and Jos Buttler returned to battle Boult once more and both of them found the boundary as they collected 15 runs.
Guptill and Jimmy Neesham then faced Jofra Archer, whose first ball was a wide outside off stump and then his third delivery was length and Neesham launched it over midwicket for six.
New Zealand had to score two off the last ball to win, another tie meaning England would win on count-out.
Guptill, having not faced previously in the Super Over, squeezed a blockhole delivery through midwicket but, scampering back for all he was worth and diving full-length, he could not beat the composed fielding of Jason Roy and the excellent work at the stumps by Buttler, who had to gather the throw a fair distance from the stumps.
Prior to that, the Black Caps had once again brought their special mix of doggedness, calm, skill and precision with the ball and outstanding fielding as they squeezed England.
England bowled extremely well themselves to only allow New Zealand to cobble together 241 for eight after winning the toss and choosing to bat.
But the Black Caps were even better as they overcame some wretched luck up front when decisions narrowly went against them and England played and missed regularly, and then weathered a formidable partnership between Stokes and Buttler that added 110 off 133 balls and took the hosts to the brink of their first World Cup crown.