England, NZ sharing World Cup would have been apt
The rule that made New Zealand losers in Sunday’s epic match at Lord’s, based on which team had hit more boundaries is an asinine regulation, lapsing in cricket logic and justice. It should be banished forthwith.Updated: Jul 18, 2019 11:25 IST
Mr Bumble, immortalised in Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, would not have taken kindly to the manner in which the World Cup final was decided. When told the law considered his wife to work under his direction, Bumble’s caustic response was, “If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass.”
So too is the rule that made New Zealand losers in Sunday’s epic match at Lord’s, based on which team had hit more boundaries. This is an asinine regulation, lapsing in cricket logic and justice. It should be banished forthwith.
True, the effort of all international sports bodies is to ensure a result. Where cricket is concerned, despair among fans over draws in Tests led to the limited-overs formats—aimed at reaching a decisive conclusion—coming into existence.
To take out an insurance against a tied final, ICC built in a Super Over for the first time in the World Cup. So far so good, but it left itself open to an unseemly situation by limiting the provision of deciding a winner in case of a tied Super Over to an inanity.
It taxes imagination severely to believe that the final would unravel the way it did. Yet, that is precisely the job of rule-makers: to cover all bases, just in case. The argument that all teams had agreed to the rule also gets terribly weak legs on seeing the result.
Such complexities when they arise cannot be buried in fine print that fails to pass the test of credibility, and also carries in it the seeds of explosive controversy. It is only because Kane Williamson is a statesmanlike cricketer that the matter ended where it did.
Let’s examine why cricketing merit in the rule that was applied has no heft. To decide a winner on only one facet of the game is not just thoughtless, but strikes at the very foundation of the sport which sees all players, their skills and attributes and everything that happens on the field, as equally important.
Why should boundary hits—sixes and fours—be more important than, say, scoring the same number of runs through singles and twos? Indeed, why should only scoring runs be given more gravitas than taking wickets, or in the case of limited-overs cricket, bowling dot balls?
While every match has stellar moments, cricketing philosophy is necessarily non-partisan. The outcome of a match is determined by the sum of all its parts: from a single prevented or surrendered, catch taken or dropped, boundaries hit or saved, and so on.
Showcasing boundary hits as the sole determinant in such a situation in a way panders to the clamour from broadcasters, who see greater viewer gratification in this; perhaps justifiably where their interests are concerned. But for the administration to peg the result of a match on a `highlights package’ as it were, is a slur on all else that transpires in a match.
This brings me to the other important aspect that emerges from the tumultuous final. Sharing the title is not a bad outcome at all in certain excruciating circumstances; in fact it may be the best way out.
A tied match, even in ODIs, is infrequent, probably one in several hundred. The probability of a tied Super Over to follow a tied match would run into one in a million. Perhaps even more; so, why not treat this situation as dead heat instead of trying to contrive a winner?
There has never been such a beguiling ODI contest as the 2019 World Cup final, fortune ebbing and flowing through the day and reaching a pulsating climax that had millions across the world with jangled nerves, boggled mind, guts knotted in tension and excitement. Yet sadly, also with the feeling that the match did not have the `closure’ it merited.
England cannot be grudged their triumph, of course. They were equal participants in making this final the greatest ODI ever bar none. But there was something amiss, and it would have been as unedifying had New Zealand, by some quirk of fate, won and been declared World Cup winners.
Both teams sharing the title would have been mot juste.