|ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final, Lord’s|
|New Zealand 241-8 (50 overs): Nicholls 55, Woakes 3-37, Plunkett 3-42|
|England 241 all out (50 overs): Stokes 84, Buttler 59, Neesham 3-43, Ferguson 3-50|
|England win after super over|
England beat New Zealand to win the men’s World Cup for the first time after one of the most amazing games of cricket ever played was tied twice.
In an emotional and electric atmosphere at Lord’s, both sides scored 241 in their 50 overs and were level on 15 when they batted for an extra over apiece.
It meant England were crowned world champions by virtue of having scored more boundary fours and sixes – 26 to New Zealand’s 17 – in the entire match.
That it even got to that stage was astonishing in itself and came as a result of a barely believable conclusion at the home of cricket – the first tie in a World Cup final.
England required 15 from the last over of the regular match. Ben Stokes hit a six and then benefited when a throw from the deep hit his bat as he dived for ground and was inadvertently deflected for four overthrows.
He could not get the two needed from the last ball – Mark Wood was run out coming back for the second – but ended 84 not out and joined Jos Buttler for the super over.
In glorious evening sunshine, they were roared on by a febrile crowd that belted out Sweet Caroline in the change of innings.
When New Zealand replied, Jimmy Neesham hit Jofra Archer’s third ball for six, then scrambled to leave Martin Guptill needing two from the last delivery.
As Jason Roy’s throw came in from deep mid-wicket, a diving Guptill was short when Buttler removed the bails, sending England and the whole of Lord’s into delirious celebration.
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Unbelievable finale sets up super over
England were all but out of the game at 86-4, squeezed by New Zealand’s skilful bowling, sharp fielding and smart tactics.
Gradually, they were dragged back into contention by Stokes and Buttler through patience, calmness and a little fortune.
Buttler was the more fluent, scooping and driving, but when he was caught at deep point for 59, England still needed 46 from 31 balls.
It was at this point that Stokes, the man who was hit for four sixes in the final over in England’s 2016 World T20 final defeat and was cleared of affray 11 months ago, took control.
After Liam Plunkett was held at long-off in Neesham’s 49th over, Trent Boult carried the ball over the boundary for a Stokes six before Archer was bowled.
That left 15 needed from Boult’s final set. Two dots were followed by a heave over deep mid-wicket, then came the outrageous moment of fortune.
Diving for his ground to complete a second run, Stokes’ bat was inadvertently struck by the throw and deflected the ball for four overthrows to make six in total.
With three runs needed from two balls, Adil Rashid was run out coming back for a second. When Wood suffered the same fate from the final ball, the match was tied.
Slow burning final builds to unforgettable climax
The drama of the finale was at odds with almost all of the match, which was an attritional affair on a tricky surface.
New Zealand stuck doggedly to a plan that centred on batting patience. Henry Nicholls’ 55, and 47 from Tom Latham, held things together in the face of some probing England bowling.
The value of the Black Caps’ pragmatism in reaching 241-8 was shown when England came to bat.
Matt Henry had Roy caught behind, the miserly Colin de Grandhomme ensured Joe Root suffered a similar fate, Lockie Ferguson got Jonny Bairstow to play on, then took a wonderful catch to hold Eoin Morgan at deep point.
England were floored, then came Stokes, the tie, the super over, and an unforgettable conclusion.
Buzzing Lord’s plays its part in history
It can be argued that in just getting to the final, and therefore ensuring that it would be broadcast on free-to-air television, England had already given cricket in the UK an invaluable boost.
But those who did watch witnessed the greatest World Cup final of all-time and one of the most memorable moments in British sporting history.
As spectators streamed from St John’s Wood station on Sunday morning, they were greeted by drummers, jugglers and dancers on roller skates.
Inside the ground, they saw parachutists land on the Nursery Ground before the spine-tingling spectacle of the national anthems.
That, though, was nothing compared to the emotion of the final hour, one of the most dramatic passages of sport you could ever wish to see.
The explosion of noise when England sealed victory was deafening and as the trophy was lifted, the crowd rightly sang that cricket was coming home.
England’s journey ends in glory
This was the day that English cricket had been building to for four years, going back to when England were dumped out of the last World Cup in the first round.
Off the field, a renewed focus was placed on one-day cricket through the vision of former director of cricket Andrew Strauss.
On it, captain Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss gave the players a new freedom and they responded with some spectacular performances, particularly with the bat.
They began the World Cup as favourites and the number one ranked side, but at one stage found themselves one defeat from elimination.
Morgan’s men reversed their fortunes and swept into the final with three successive victories, including a memorable semi-final demolition of Australia.
In the final, the rollercoaster continued, only for the heroics of Stokes to leave England as worthy champions, matching the achievement of the England women’s team on the same ground two years ago.
And Morgan, the architect of it all, joined immortals Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson as men to have lifted a World Cup for England.
‘Written in the stars for Stokes’ – reaction
England batsman Joe Root: “Wow! It’s hard to sum it up. What a day, what a tournament. Everyone has done everything asked of them. We have performed under pressure.
“It was almost written in the stars for Ben Stokes. He’s had such a tough time. I’m so proud of him and pleased for him and his family.”
England bowler Jofra Archer: “I was pretty sure I was going to bowl it [the super over]. My heart is still racing! It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won. A great bunch of fellas, a really good family to me.”
England captain Eoin Morgan: “There wasn’t a lot in that game. I’d like to commiserate Kane Williamson and his team. The fight they show is worth aspiring to, the example they set is commendable to all. It was a hard, hard game where people found it hard to score.
“This has been a four-year journey, we have developed a lot. We find it hard to play on wickets like that and today was about getting over the line. Sport is tough at times. I was being cooled down by Liam Plunkett, which is not a good sign! I was up and down like a yo-yo.”