Crestfallen New Zealand captain Kane Williamson refused to blame the rules or agree that the ICC need to address them following his team’s desperately unlucky loss – on a count-out to number of boundaries scored – against England in the extraordinary World Cup final at Lord’s on Sunday.
The Black Caps suffered outrageous misfortune in the last over of the match when a throw that could have run out man of the match Ben Stokes, who was desperately diving to make his ground on a second run, deflected off his bat and went to the boundary, giving England six runs off one ball.
It meant the equation for victory went from nine needed off three balls, to three runs needed off the last two deliveries and two to tie and take the final into a Super Over.
Stokes duly secured the tie and then, incredibly, the Super Over was also tied, which left England declared victors because they had scored more boundaries – 24 to 16 – in the initial 50-overs contest.
“Obviously we’re just gutted after doing all you possibly could and still not getting over the line. We speak a lot about uncontrollables and there were a couple today. England deserved their win, they’ve had a very good campaign, but either side could have won as two ties shows you. It’s just one of those things, although the emotions are still raw and the defeat is pretty hard to swallow.
“There were two attempts to separate the two sides and it is what it is, the rules were there at the start but I don’t think anyone thought the result would be decided in that manner. The rule about overthrows deflecting off the batsman has been there a long time and I don’t think anything has ever happened before to question it. It perhaps decided the result, but there were so many other things which were so important too,” a philosophical Williamson said.
England captain Eoin Morgan praised Stokes, who scored 84 not out off 98 balls, one of the great World Cup innings, and then bashed seven off two balls in the Super Over, for the way he dragged the hosts over the line.
“The way Ben came through was extraordinary, almost super-human. He carried the team today, he batted incredibly well with the lower-order, the way he dealt with all of the emotion, and his partnership with Jos Buttler [110 off 133 balls for the fifth wicket] kept us in the game. A lot of careers would have been ended by what happened in Kolkata [when he conceded four consecutive sixes in the final over of the 2016 T20 World Cup final against the West Indies], but Ben stood up and he really leads the way now.
“Ben is an incredible cricketer and he’s had a huge day out, obviously we are all very thankful for that. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened with those overthrows, he had dived and there was just dust everywhere, but we didn’t celebrate, that’s clearly not something you do because it could be us on the other side of that one day. But the whole game was about those finest of margins … “ Morgan said.