There are times where the unpredictable nature of sport can do the most unbelievable things to the human body.
How do you sum up one of the most extremely dramatic matches the game has ever seen? This sporting contest, this roller coaster of emotions, this cricket match.
For 27 years, England has dreamed of the day it would have another chance to play in a Cricket World Cup final. Perhaps, after the most astonishing of finales to a final the game has ever witnessed, it was valuable for England to wait.
That this game was shown free-to-air on UK television, the first live men’s England international to be broadcast on terrestrial since 2005, may provide an evidence of a masterstroke.
After watching this, who wouldn’t be stimulated to pick up a bat and hit out like Ben Stokes? Or grasp a ball and bowl like Jofra Archer?
England victory over New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday after coming out on top in an energetic Super Over after the scores were level after 50 overs. Not only England wins, but it did so in a way that will be remembered by the next generation.
After both teams reached 241, England doing so offs the final ball of its innings; it was the host nation that came out on top in the most dramatic of circumstances.
A Super Over, six extra deliveries for each side, is cricket’s answer to the football’s penalty shootout. That New Zealand should equal England’s total of 15 and still lose because of its opponent’s higher boundary rate in the original 50 overs, though, it irritates New Zealand.
For England, it’s a first men’s World Cup title in its first final for 27 years. This triumph, in front of a capacity crowd at Lord’s will be remembered for a team’s obstinate rejection to yield when all odds seemed against it and an incredible test of nerve under the fiercest of pressure.
And yet, it is not possible to not feel for this New Zealand side, one of the most talented and underestimated teams in world cricket, captained by the hugely inspiring Kane Williamson.
Four years ago New Zealand was knocked out by Australia in the World Cup final, this time; it came within a millimeter of winning the tournament for the very first time.
That the entire contest should have been turned on its head by a single incident involving a man born in New Zealand, wearing England blue, will not be lost on those in black.
Ben Stokes, born in Christchurch but moved to England at the age of 12, has proved to be one of the team’s excellent players for many a year. And typically, in this contest, against the country of his birth, it was his contribution that took away the final from New Zealand.
With three balls of England’s innings remaining, and his team requiring nine for victory, Stokes hit the ball towards the boundary and set off to take two quick runs.
Racing back for the second against the fielder’s throw, Stokes dived into his crease with bat stretched out to make his ground, unwittingly distracting the oncoming thrown ball past the wicketkeeper and to the boundary for four.
It was a total accident. Nobody, least of all Stokes, could quite believe what had happened.
At 86-4 the game looked New Zealand’s. But there is a reason that England, the pre-tournament favorite, is the world’s No.1 ranked team.
In Buttler and Stokes it had two players ideal for the occasion. Buttler’s 59 off 60 took England to within touching distance of winning before Stokes led England if not quite home, to the driveway at the very least.
When Mark Wood was run out attempting to win the tie off the final ball, Stokes was left all alone not out on 84 and with one eye tightly fixed on a Super Over.
With the crowd on its feet, most in doubt, Stokes seemed to remain the calmest man inside Lord’s.
Both he and Buttler pace up for the Super Over, scoring 15 off six deliveries to leave New Zealand requiring 16 to win.
Such a total appeared quite modest once Jimmy Neesham had taken aim at England’s Jofra Archer, leaving his side requiring two off the final ball for victory.
Martin Guptill, the man charged with hitting the winning shot, smashed the ball as hard as he could as he set off on a quick run.
But as he turned to race back, the ball arrowed towards the stumps from the arm of Jason Roy towards Buttler, who broke the stumps and New Zealand hearts.
The England fans sang “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, cricket’s coming home.”
Cricket may indeed have come home, but a sneaking disbelief says their heroes may not be home until the early hours of the morning after this truly notable triumph.