May be England deserved the World Cup but to win a game on the basis of boundaries hit is arbitrary
On the south bank of the Thames river that intersects London, a Wimbledon final for the ages was going down, and it would have been the most watched sporting event of Sunday if not for the twists and turns on the other side of the river at Lord’s. A cricket final between England and New Zealand was going down to the wire, a cagey match with under 500 runs scored between the teams at the end of regulation in an era where 800-plus run totals in One-day Internationals are not unheard of. But at least you knew how Wimbledon would end. You knew that after that epic final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal a decade ago, Wimbledon changed the rules and ‘unlimited’ final sets were then limited to 12 games each after which a match was to be decided by a tie-breaker. Many can argue about tie-breakers in tennis and their “fairness.” Federer, for example, won four more games than the eventual winner Novak Djokovic but they are an established part the way tennis decides games. The same thing goes for many field sports such as football, field hockey and penalty shootouts. Again, one can debate on the fairness of the methods but these penalty shootouts or tie-breakers are to go to the very end, and while some have carried on quite long, games have eventually been decided.
However, to lose a game on a statistic must be particularly jarring and deeply unfair. And we all saw New Zealand lose the cricket World Cup on the basis of boundaries hit in the match. They also lost to an extremely lucky ricochet, admittedly inadvertent, that changed the game. Had the International Cricket Council (ICC)decided that because England beat New Zealand earlier in the tournament or because they did better in the league phase of the tournament that they should be the winner after everything was tied, it would have been fairer. But deciding a game on the number of boundaries hit is utterly bizarre and it would be like adjudicating a football game where after a tie, the winner is decided by who scored a goal from the greatest distance. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who is a tremendous individual, said it plainly, “Should have been this, should have been that, but it is what it is”, and was given a standing ovation. But hundreds of cricket journalists, like cricketers and fans across the world, felt that something is rotten with the sport if a game, possibly the greatest one ever played, or so the British media would have us believe, is decided like this. Should there have been a second super over? Should the tournament have been declared a tie? These are genuinely important questions that need to be asked of the ICC and there is a major reason for that. This might have been one of the best games of cricket ever played in the one-day format in a long, long time but if these issues are not ironed out today, it could be the swan song for this genre. Fans and players expect fairness in a result, and while England played a great tournament, this is not how the game should have ended. Otherwise, they are worthy champions and did not in any way manipulate the result, unless, of course, one believes that New Zealand-born Ben Stokes deliberately ‘hit’ the ball to the boundary, which he clearly did not. It is a pity if the ‘greatest game’ ever played leaves us with so many valid questions about the result.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer