It’s 9am, and cricket is about to start on Channel 4. Anyone can tune in, it doesn’t need a day pass, it doesn’t need a subscription. Just turn the television on, or if you’re one of those millions the ECB insist don’t “consume content” this way, use the 4OD app and stream it. Either way, the England cricket team are there to be watched by everyone for the first time in 14 years.
It’s a treat of course. A special occasion, a one off. And the sheer delight at cricket opening itself to the masses is tempered by the absolute fury that it can have been 14 years since this was last the case. For a sport, any sport to have hidden itself away for so long, as a deliberate strategy, remains extraordinary, and extraordinarily stupid.
The way the ECB have been banging on about “engagement” in the last few days is the mark of an organisation desperately trying to justify its own actions, using every possible matrix to try to deny the consequences of its own conduct. It’s a common tactic of course, the same kind of adding up that led Manchester United to claim they had 659 million fans, through amongst others sleights of hand including all those who support other clubs but who play United and thus count as being interested in them, but with cricket, the numbers are so frighteningly low to begin with that the exaggerated numbers are more terrifying than reassuring.
Still, today is a chance, a rare opportunity, for someone to stumble across the game that we love, and be hooked by it. It’s a common memory for so many of us, to have played in the back garden or the street, and to discover it shown on tv and be drawn in. Times have certainly changed in the world of broadcasting, but a central tenet of sports adherence has not – in order to fall for a game, it has to be seen, it has to be watched. Today can only be beneficial. But the sad part, the desperately sad part, is that instead of being a foundation on which to build, it is instead a one off, a quick glimpse through the palace gates at the riches beyond and little more. Celebrate this instance, but remain furious that it is all we get.
It will be intriguing to see what kind of viewing figures are gained, and it’s not hard to imagine that the ECB’s worst nightmare is if they are strong. They’ll certainly be higher than anything gained on Sky over the last few years, but a strong latent interest will shine a light on their policies like nothing else. Naturally, they’ll protest that it justifies their Hundred approach of showing the odd game to the public, and how they intend to capitalise on reaching non-cricket fans in future. That’s the trouble with the ECB – you can write their responses yourself, if you can bear to continually write sentences including the words stakeholders and engagement.
Of course, this is an ICC event, and the granting of free to air coverage is entirely the decision of Sky, so the ECB claiming credit would be laughably misplaced, but it is unlikely to stop them.
But this is an unqualified “good thing”, an unexpected bonus for those who might well be able to afford a Sky subscription, but who care enough for the health of a sport that they want to see everyone exposed to it, who want everyone to get the chance to appreciate it. Of course Channel 4 are going to switch to the Grand Prix, they’ve had that scheduled for ages, but it is not like the early years of the century – everyone, and I mean everyone, now has digital television and can switch. Perhaps just as importantly given cricket’s absence from the wider airwaves, some who tune in for the motor racing might just hang around for the cricket afterwards as well.
It’s sunny, it’s exciting, and we’re all going to watch cricket. What a fabulous day, and there will be a new winner of the Cricket World Cup. What’s not to like?
As for the game, England are warm favourites against a New Zealand team that epitomises the cliche about them being more than the sum of their parts, but who have some outstanding cricketers in their ranks too. There seems little doubt the team winning the toss will wish to bat first, and that the pitch will be a batting friendly one for such a showpiece occasion.
We’ll all be joining in with the live blogging and commenting during the day, so the usual reminder that auto-refresh is a plug in that we’ve not come across yet, so you’ll need to manually refresh the page. Oh the hardship…
09:10 – 5 Live have started the build up, Sky have started the build up, and half the Channel 4 audience are seeing for the first time that a World Cup has been on for the last 6 weeks.
09:17 – I remember the 1992 World Cup, getting up at 3am to go down to the student union to watch the final. My mate Jason was going to come with me, but overslept the little shit, so I was stood outside his house cursing his name as he drifted. He eventually turned up at about 9 I think.
09:30 – the irony of the Sky feed showing bits of the 2005 series on Channel 4 but with the Sky commentary.
09:50 – interesting watching the interview with Eoin Morgan. Some in the media have been falling over themselves to praise people behind the scenes, like Strauss. It surely can’t be too difficult to give the bulk of the praise to the bloke who has been in charge of the team for the last four years. He’s the one, not a suit.
09:55 – toss delayed to 10:15. So presumably a delayed start too.
10:16 – New Zealand win the toss and bat. Probably not an easy decision given the overhead conditions. Same side for New Zealand. Morgan says he’s not bothered about losing the toss and that it was a 50/50 call. England also unchanged.
10:29 – “I got a duck in the World Cup final, it’s not that bad!”. Brendon McCullum is great – all the pontification about pressure and so on, and he offers a healthy dose of perspective.
10:38 – is it just me who really, really hates anthems before a cricket match?
Ok here we go. Not really nervous, not like before the football or rugby World Cup matches. Odd in many ways, I’d like to be.
10:45 – having said that, it’s worth England being in the final for the sheer bitterness of some of our Australian friends in particular. Marvellous.
Massive wipe at the first ball by Guptill. Fantastic to see, and what I’d hope to watch down the local club.
It’s a World Cup final and we’ve got Michael Clarke on comms. Did we deserve that?
Boy that pitch looks green. 5-0 after 1.
10:53 – great decision from Erasmus not to give a catch behind, and a good one from Morgan not to review it. Have to say, first instinct was it was out. Nope, hit the back leg.
10:55 WICKET! Nicholls lbw to Woakes. It’s been reviewed…oh this looks stone dead. Wow, going over the top. Must be going blind. So overturned, as you were. 8-0 off 2.3
11:00. 10-0 from 3. There’s movement for the England bowlers out there, but surviving the first half hour is going to be key.
I’m absolutely certain that my (abysmal) bowling arm came over at the same speed as Jofra Archer’s. But the ball dribbled out for me and goes down the other end like an Exocet for him.
11:03 – 22-0 from 4. Decent start.
How come I always get the promotion email about World Cup matches from the ECB well after the game is underway?
11:06 24-0. England have started reasonably, there have been a couple of alarms, but no more than ought to be expected.
Archer is perhaps bowling a bit short. The speed is starting to crank up though.
11:10 WICKET! Probably anyway – Woakes bowls full to Guptill and pins him in front. It’s been reviewed, and yep, that’s out. New Zealand also lose their review. 29-1.
Woakes has been good this morning, looking much the more dangerous of the opening attack. Kane Williamson arrives at the crease…
A general thing about reviews. Dharmasena hasn’t had a great tournament, but his error in giving Roy out in the semi-final would have been overturned had England not burned their review on a desperation attempt to prevent Bairstow’s dismissal. So it is here with New Zealand, by hoping for a miracle, they’ve now put themselves at risk of a mistake later. For all the criticism about a wrong decision, teams bring a lot of it on themselves with Hail Marys on ones where it’s a fair enough decision. My sympathy is in short supply.
11:20 bit of short pitched bowling from Archer to Williamson. A fast bowler pinging a batsman is great stuff. As long as you’re not the batsman. 30-1 from 8
Nicholls is struggling a bit here. 10 runs off 26 balls and looking a tad fretful with it.
11:28 Always easy to slate the commentators, and some are woeful. But it’s Atherton, Bishop and Smith on currently. They’re bloody marvellous. Can we have them on for the rest of the day?
1135 40-1, given it’s not easy out there, New Zealand will be pretty pleased with this start. Could have easily lost the final in the first hour, but they’re in the game.
1142 Bit of an iffy first over from Liam Plunkett, but everyone knows this entire game is about watching him bowl, and particularly watching him bat.
1148 50 up, in the 14th over. Been a bit of a struggle, but it’s fine. They’re in the game.
1150 Kane Williamson 4 not out off 24 balls. Which says above all else that people can get too stressed about the early part of an innings, because if he’s still there in 20 overs time, he’ll have a big score. Mark Wood into the attack.
1155 Mark Wood is getting more (away) swing than anyone else. Swing hasn’t been a big part in this tournament, it’s a pleasant surprise to see some.
95mph from Wood. That’s rapid.
1156 and that’s drinks.
1159 Hmm Stokes is limping a bit. Seems to be ok now, ran around the boundary well enough just now.
1202 68-1 from 16, and here’s Danny to take over.
1206 Tight over from Wood. New Zealand seem to be targeting 250-270, which has to be too low against this England team?
1210 Seven from Rashid’s first over, with not much spin off the pitch. It might be worth bowling Stokes a bit early on and seeing if the pitch if more receptive to Adil later on…
1214 Seven again from Wood’s third over. New Zealand are accelerating, and the English bowlers aren’t seeming very threatening in these middle overs so far.
1219 Another seven runs from Rashid’s over, and again no real threat.
1223 Seven runs from Wood’s end too. Since Woakes finished his 7-over spell, New Zealand are scoring at 6.4 runs per over, which could lead to them scoring over 350 altogether. Very worrying…
1226 Better from Rashid, only four of this one, but nothing to worry the batsmen. Ominous.
1230 WICKET. Williamson given not out edged behind, but that decision was by Dharmasena so England have reviewed. Huge spike on the UltraEdge and Plunkett has got Williamson out. Huge wicket from nowhere!
1242 A couple of tighter overs after the wicket and the pressure is back on the New Zealand batsmen. Losing Williamson could have cost New Zealand 50 runs or more from their total.
1248 WICKET No need for Dharmasena to fret about this decision. Plunkett bowls a full ball and an inside edge rips out Nicholls’ off stump. Amazing what happens when you bowl full.
1302 Three tight overs from Plunkett and Rashid, New Zealand’s wheels are spinning but they’re going nowhere fast. Stokes has apparently recovered and is bowling his first over.
1306 Stokes keep it tight, conceding four, and now it’s DRINKS.
13:08 – Dmitri taking over now. Teddy permitting.
13:10 – Rashid bowling his 8th over, with no wickets. Four singles from the first four balls and then two dots. Think they aren’t really taking a chance here, putting their eggs in a 250-270 basket. There’s not a lot in this wicket, so I’m not sure that’s a top idea.
13:12 – Ben Stokes on for his second over. All quite low key so far. Latham pulls the second ball firmly for a single to backward square. Ross Taylor does pretty much the same to the next ball, but just a single. No getting away from the lack of boundaries. Another nick for a single off the fourth ball. Two leg-byes off the fifth ball as it flicks off Taylor’s hip to fine leg. Wide off the sixth ball which went right over the blue line. Kumar being a bit harsh. Guided down to third man for a single off the last ball. Seven off it – 141 for 3.
13:18 – Not sure this will be enthralling the nation. Mark Wood replacing Adil Rashid, to bowl his fifth over. First ball he nails Taylor in front, and with no review he has to go. Is that New Zealand’s last chance to post a big total? Erasmus is fireproof at the moment. Has he got this right?
WICKET – Ross Taylor LBW Mark Wood 15 – 141 for 4
Our band sings (well I do) this song, and our guitarist plays a damn sight better guitar solo than this. Neesham in. Is the game gonna go his way? LBW was too high, so congratulate Guptill for blowing the earlier review. And let’s see Erasmus get some grief (I don’t mean that, but Kumar got stick for some stuff earlier today on the back of a bad decision on Thursday). No runs from the next four balls. Make that five. A wicket maiden from Mark Wood – 141 for 4 from 34.
13:24 – “Funny How the Missus Always Looks The Bleedin’ Same” – How am I ever going to get that lyric into a blog post title? Stokes on again. One from the first, full bunger not dealt with for the second. Two left-handers in now. Stokes strays on to leg stump and Neesham clips it through mid-wicket for a rare boundary. First in 15 and a half overs according to Bishop. Follows up with a wide. Neesham clobbers the short ball through wide mid-on for another four from the fifth ball. A driven single makes it 11 off the over and the score with 15 overs to go at 152 for 4. Are we seriously expected to pay £20 extra to watch Dillian Whyte?
13:28 – Wood gets smacked first ball by Neesham but no run. Blocks the second, with Wood registering 92 mph on the speed gun. Evades a short ball third up, but connects with the fourth – Woakes dives to save three runs on the boundary. Jimmy giving it big lash early on. Play and miss on the fifth. Blocks the sixth, with just one run from Wood’s sixth over. 153 for 4.
13:33 – Stokes removed, and Liam Plunkett back on. First ball to Neesham who hit straight to backward point first up. Drop and run on the second ball. The Barmy Army trumpeter plays, whether you like it or not. Dot ball. Michael Clarke doesn’t remember much about the 2015 Final. Just like I don’t recall the early days of this blog. Plunkett goes short, and Latham goes for a pull, for four. Bounced before the “rope”. Quick single next ball. Dot ball off the sixth ball. Six from the over. 159 for 4 from 37.
13:37 – Latham times a ball through the covers for four from Wood’s first ball, but follows up with a play and miss to a pitched up delivery. Lovely to see the ICC dignitaries enjoying the cricket. Latham to third man for a single. Let’s see those ICC characters again. The public demands it. Dot ball to Neesham off ball four. Nothing from the fifth, a short ball Neesham ducks under. A squirted dab into the offside gets Neesham a single. 6 runs from the over, 7 from Wood’s last three, and it’s 165 for 4 with 12 overs left.
13:41 – Wasted. That’s a tune for the MCC members. Might be about the 2005 legacy, eh? Dot ball first up from Liam, just missing off stump. This is Plunkett’s ninth over. Dab down to third man for Neesham. Ah the Women’s world cup winners. What a legacy they’ve built since, aided and abetted by the ECB. Single to Latham, then two for Neesham. Not fireworks by any means. Neesham hits the next ball for four, an offdrive off the back foot that Woakes couldn’t reach. Then Liam gets his revenge, fooling Neesham who lofts it straight to mid-on and it is caught by Joe Root.
WICKET – Jimmy Neesham Caught Joe Root Bowled Liam Plunkett 19 – 173 for 5
A key wicket for England as in comes the Big Man. I’ll call him CdG for the purposes of this live blog. It is easier.
13:47 – Wood gives up a single to Latham first ball, and CdG now faces. He takes two to wide third man to get his score going as those lags, the Barmy Army, sing Livin’ On A Prayer. No more comment offered. Nothing doing from a misjudged shot third ball for CdG. A full ball on leg stump is beautifully timed, but Bairstow dives and the ball goes in clean and is returned rapidly. Still two runs, but great fielding. Dot ball from another 92 mph delivery. Wood is rapid at the moment, so no way he stays fit this summer! Single from CdG – 179 for 5, with six from the over. 10 to go. dum de dum dum dum dum.
13:51 – Lovely to see the full ICC box again. Half expect to see that Infantino chap turn up. Last over from Liam – two dot balls to start the 41st. What the public wants is more ICC freeloaders on screen. Single to deep midwicket for CdG off the third ball. Short ball clopped to deep midwicket for a single by Latham, who is onto 25. Oh, it’s our PM. For at least another week. Play and miss off the penultimate ball, so Liam has one more. 3 for 42 at the moment. It’s how he finished, a dot ball. 181 for 5. Here’s Ray Winstone. I miss him “having a bang on that”.
13:56 – Archer back on, and a single for Latham to start. Archer has 5 to bowl. Play and miss to the 85mph second ball. A total miscue from a short ball for CdG gets a single as it balloons off his helmet over backward point. I now get a two minute break. Latham strokes a single from the fourth. Sharp single from the big man, which would have been tight if hit. Wide from the sixth ball. Bouncer off the last ball. 186 for 5. 8 overs remaining.
14:01 – Single off the first full pitched delivery from Wood, as it goes down to fine leg from CdG. Single off the second. A run a ball gets New Zealand just around 230. 4 leg byes as the ball flicks CdG, a nice and nasty bonus. Two runs for CdG as he takes on Adil’s weak arm and gets home. Chopped down to third man for a single off the fifth ball of the over. Latham miscues a short one for a single. 10 off the over, and it is 196 for 5. I see Naylor has cheesed off some of the parish. Ah yes. One of my early blogging inspirations. And another of my regrets.
14:06 – Single from the first ball of Archer’s over. Another leg bye off the second. No, Simon, it hasn’t gripped the country. Stop telling nonsense. Short ball flapped for a single by Latham. Wide given for the next bouncer. 200 up. Miscue doesn’t carry to cover from CdG. Had a few of these through the innings. They’ll get ’em in leg byes as CdG is through early and it ricochets for a single. Wide off the supposed last ball of the over. Still six off the over so far. Wide again. Short and wide of leg stump. Single off the last, pictures of MCC eccentrics and 8 from the over. Pip Pip. 204 for 5 with six to go.
14:11 – Wood’s final over. No run from the first ball. Swing and a miss from the second. Lovely shot for six over mid-wicket by Latham as he picks up a straight full delivery from Wood. Wood hits Latham a midships the next ball. Top edge falls short of Archer who pings in a return to prevent a second. Buttler gathers and slings the stumps down, it is being reviewed and CdG is just in. A lot closer than it looked. One run. Bouncer, not given wide off the last. Wood done. 1 for 49. 7 from the over. 211 for 5. Five overs left.
14:16 – We are the army, the barmy army, we are mental and we are mad. Single for Latham from the first ball. Single for CdG from the second. Slower ball dabbed for one by Latham again. Wood clutching his rib at the end of his spell. Three weeks from the Ashes. CdG gets tied up with another short ball. Dot. Slower full ball means CdG mis-times. No run. Slow ball bouncer (78) and CdG waves what looks like a stick at it. 3 from the over. 214 for 5. 24 balls remaining.
14:19 – We interrupt the generic pap music to say Woakes is coming back. Wood wanders off. Hurry up and bowl Chris, that tune is dreadful. Latham pushes a single first ball. Slower ball is tucked behind square for 2 off the second. Single from the third ball. Latham cross bats a single. Slower ball is chipped in the air by CdG and he loops it to mid-off.
WICKET – Colin de Grandhomme Caught Sub (James Vince) Bowled Chris Woakes 16 – 219 for 6
James Vince gets his name on a World Cup Final scorecard. More than KP and Sir Al ever did! In comes Mitchell Santner, but Latham is on strike. Stroked to midwicket for a single. 220 for 6. 6 runs from the over. 3 overs remain.
14:26 – Archer to Latham. Single down to deep backward square. Single to Santner for the first run of his innings. Dot ball from a short ball third up. Driven single for Latham on the fourth ball. Single to Santner. Single to Latham. Dull. 5 from the third last over, and barely a chance taken. 225 for 6.
14:29 – Appeal, Woakes for LBW against Latham. Review. Missed run out. Need the lav. Ted’s asleep. Doesn’t look out, although he did wander. Pitched outside leg. A run taken. Santner clumps one to midwicket. Single. Lazy cricket gives New Zealand five runs. Short ball bouncer, wide, boundary. Muppets. Wide full toss, slow ball, chipped up, and Woakes gets another wicket. Horrid cricket.
WICKET – Tom Latham Caught Sub (James Vince) Bowled Chris Woakes 47 – 232 for 7.
Vince becoming a legend here. The catchmaster. Wonder if Vaughan can leverage that into an Ashes place. Someone shoot the guitarist. Woakes bowls a beamer to Santner, no ball and a free hit, which Santner misses (a slower ball telegraphed by second class post). Quick single again, a direct hit is missed, but probably safe. Vince not quite the legend. Woakes last ball to Henry is slower, and Matt massacres it over cow corner for a one bounce four. 238 for 7. 13 from the over. Last six…
14:37 – First ball, Santner move across, ball goes over leg stump. Dot. Another quick single second ball. Throw misses. One run to Santner. Bouncer third ball is adjudged as a wide. McCullum ranting on about 240. Full and straight next, and it smacks into off on the full.
WICKET – Matt Henry Bowled Jofra Archer 4 – 240 for 8
Next man in is Sweet Child Of Mine (not so sweet with this clown on the guitar) Trent Boult. Three balls left. Slow yorker. Dot ball. Boult drives the penultimate ball for a single, and scampers down the other end. Last ball to Santner who has five from eight balls at the tail end of the innings. It’s a bouncer and Santner ducks!!!!! A dot ball without a shot being played. Curious and even more curious. Innings over 241. Just 242 to win. New Zealand going to need early wickets. I think this is England’s to lose. It’s not a great wicket, but it isn’t 241 in 50 overs. England never took their feet off New Zealand’s throat.
We have a half hour break.
15:09 – Sean on the decks for the upcoming passage of play. How is everyone’s nerves? The Sky commentators seem to be confident of an England victory, i’m not so sure mind!
15:12 – This new ball is going to be crucial in the outcome of the final. If England can see off Boult and Henry and be 40-0 off 10, then they become overwhelming favourites
15:14 – Roy is a lucky boy. Boult raps him on the pads and NZ review, umpires call saves England from the worst possible start. Must admit that looked dead in real time. Just the single from the over.
15:21 – The ball is doing all sorts at the start of the innings, i’m glad i don’t have to face Boult and Henry on this. Roy connects with one sweetly down the ground. England’s first boundary.
15:27 – Steady from England here with Roy keeping hold of the strike. The Kiwi bowlers still looking dangerous mind, they need a wicket in the few overs though.
15:32 – Bairstow joins the party with 2 boundaries off Trent Boult. Are the Black Caps getting a little desperate now?
15:36 – OUT: Well they’re not getting desperate anymore, Henry gets Roy with an out swinger that is caught by Latham. Root comes to the crease and England will need something big from the Test captain.
15:43 – This has been a fascinating passage of play and kind of resembles the morning of Day 1 at a Test with a good old fashioned battle between bat and ball. ODI cricket is so much better to watch when there is something there for the bowlers as well as the batsmen.
15:50 – Bairstow playing Boult very sensibly here, leaving the one that goes across him and then a lovely pull for 4. Oh look, Tom Harrison is in the crowd, desperate to jump on any successful bandwagon no doubt. I hope Bairstow hooks one into his mush.
15:53 – Henry bowls a maiden over, he has bowled a very fine spell here, much fuller than the England bowlers. The Big Man is loosening up and coming on to bowl, the conditions could certainly suit De Grandhomme’s type of bowling.
15:56 – Many people commenting how flat the atmosphere is at the Final. It’s pretty much like every Lords international i’ve been too.
15:57 – CHANCE – The Big Man drops a relatively straight forward catch of his own bowling from Bairstow. How costly will that drop prove to be??
16:06 – Tense. The squeeze is on here from the New Zealand, England have to be a careful not to get bogged down here. 2 boundaries from Bairstow, the first a nice push of his legs and then nearly chops on next ball relieves a bit of pressure. Meanwhile:
16:12 – New Zealand bring on Ferguson for his first bowl of the game. England didn’t face him during the group game, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against him and that tremendous moustache.
16:16 – Root is getting bogged down here, not his fluent self by any means. An ambition LBW shout from De Grandhomme and then an ugly swipe from Root.
16:17 – OUT! A horrible innings from Root comes to an end with another ugly swipe and a tickle behind to Latham. New Zealand are most definitely still in this.
16:19 – Drinks and a good time to handover the reigns to the ice cold TLG. I’m going to hide behind the sofa meanwhile
16:20 – well now, TLG here and this is interesting. Tight and nervy all round. You’d say objectively that England ought to win from here, but there’s that nagging doubt and the pressure is on.
16:26 – A quick switch across to the laptop, as this blog has now got so long the WordPress app is struggling to load it properly. I mentioned the tension with this game, and the cynical old sods writing this are all a bit tense. Which is strange, considering it’s a feeling that’s been absent from all of us for quite a few years now. Which just goes to show that once this ridiculous game has wormed its way in, there’s no stopping it. Oh it’s 65-2.
16:31 – A gorgeous cover drive from Jonny Bairstow, but which is then followed by WICKET! As he chops on to his stumps from Lockie Ferguson. It’s been coming too, he’s cut a few past his own stumps, with his bottom hand being overly dominant today. England are in a bit of strife. 72-3
16:37 – Anyone wishing Moeen Ali was in the batting order today yet?
16:39 – Just two off that over. Funny thing with England, if they go after the bowling, you back them to pull off a run chase, but the moment they get hesitant and cautious, you can almost see the nerves. That’s not to say they should be having a slog at it, they’re probably approaching it the right way. But it doesn’t half look as if they’re worried.
16:44 – 82-3. You know, it’s almost like England on free to air tv hasn’t gone away, I’m pretty sure we left it in 2005 with England in a tense tight sitution.
16:47 – You’re thinking you don’t mind really if New Zealand win the World Cup, aren’t you? Decent bunch of chaps, not Australian, underdogs, punching above their weight, a victory for cricket and all that.
16:49 – Checking our stats page, it seems we had a visitor to the blog who searched for “cricket for posh people”. You what?
16:50 – WICKET! Oh drama. Is Morgan caught? Yes he is. Pretty poor shot, and a fine catch from Lockie Ferguson. England are in trouble here. 86-4 is not a promising position, and Ben Stokes is going to have to try and pull the fat out of the fire once again this tournament.
16:56 – 24 overs gone, 89-4. Two new batsmen at the crease, both destructive, and with a target that’s modest enough it can be whittled away quickly. But England have little room for manouevre now, the batting quality remaining is good, but we’re very much into the all rounders.
17:00 – How are the fingernails?
17:03 – Extremely unimpressed with Arron in the comments for drawing the England/Jimmy White parallel just as I was thinking about it and before I could write it.
17:04 – 98-4. It’s interesting seeing people think the pitch is not up to scratch. There’s something in that, given it’s not rewarded stroke play. On the other hand, if this goes to the wire, then irrespective of anything else, the viewing figures are going to soar, and the chewing of fingers is going to reach cannibalistic levels. For that’s the point, it can be certainly stated that fours and sixes might drag in the uninitiates (T20 suggests exactly that), but drama is what really does it, whether high scoring or low scoring.
17:09 – Stokes eases the pressure a bit with a crunching straight drive to bring England’s hundred up. The required run rate is just starting to climb a bit, up to 6.22. Manageable certainly, a problem if a wicket or two falls. And just to expand that earlier point, I’m not convinced that this is a poor spectacle right now. Earlier in the day that could be said, but you don’t have to be a county member or a club player of 20 years standing to understand this is very tight.
17:15 Nelson up! 111-4. These two are starting to look more at ease now. You know what’s going to come next…
17:21 – A few singles here and there. Nothing is happening but everything is happening. Cricket is so good.
17:26 – Buttler cuts just out of reach of Guptill, and it races away for four. Naturally, it gives the commentators the chance to talk about what would have been the catch of the tournament for the thousandth time.
Expect much, much more of this kind of thing if New Zealand win.
17:31 – 136-4. Starting to tick over nicely. And up comes the 50 partnership, that to channel my in Ronay is as welcome as a Green and Black’s ice cream on a hot day ooh aren’t I a clever one.
17:34 – time for a Powerade Hydration Break*.
*Just fuck off.
A masterclass in “I don’t know what the hell to say because I’m nervous, so I’ll state the bleeding obvious”. We’ve all been there.
17:40 – 35 overs gone, 141-4. A healthier looking scorecard, but still on a bit of a knifedge. Those dull middle overs eh?
17:43 – Big lbw appeal against Buttler, Dharmasena says no, and we go to a review…looks to be heading down the legside though. Yep, missing leg completely according to Hawkeye, so that’s New Zealand’s bowling review gone. And since he’s had such a kicking from so many people, a good decision from Dharmasena, albeit not the hardest he’ll have had to make.
17:47 – Don’t bowl there. Short and wide to Buttler who crashes it past point for four. Stokes is the more conservative of his pair, with Buttler looking to be the aggressor. Runs required is now under 100.
17:50 – The pressure is beginning to switch around. New Zealand are now starting to badly need a wicket. Required rate 7.24 though, and rising.
17:53 – Gorgeous straight drive for four from Buttler off Neesham. Seven off the over, just what England need from here.
17:55 – Stokes in on the act, hooking Ferguson in front of square for four.
17:59 – 5-5 in the final set in the tennis by the way.
18:01 – Of course, if England do win this, they will be the only country to have won cricket, football and rugby World Cups. It doesn’t matter much, except that it’ll cause an outbreak of fury amongst Australians and comments about it being a United Nations team. It’s worth it for that alone. 166-4.
18:02 – Ah the Buttler ramp shot. How good is he at that?
18:03 – Into the last ten overs, 72 needed, six wickets in hand. You’d say England really ought to do it from here, or at least you would in a normal JAMODI. In the World Cup final? Feels a bit more fraught than that.
18:05 – Three balls gone this Ferguson over. Three dots. Pressure…And a wide follows. But a fine over with just three off it. Required rate edges up to 7.66
18:09 – New Zealand are putting the squeeze on here. Just four runs off that over. 177-4, eight overs to go.
18:13 England probably need that one big over. But they’re struggling to score at the moment. Lots of singles, not many boundaries. Creative from Buttler, almost scooping it, changing his mind and running it down to fine leg. But only for a couple. Six off that over. OK, but no more than that. 8.42 an over needed.
18:17 Trent Boult returns. Buttler crashes it over extra cover for four and goes to 50. And Stokes joins him with a single down the ground.
18:23 – 53 runs needed from 36 balls. Fantastic shot from Buttler, again over deep extra cover. 48 from 34. Followed by a, well, a hoick, that heads down to third man. Fine piece of fielding on the boundary saves a couple of runs.
18:26 – WICKET! That’s huge. Buttler skews it off the outside edge out to deep point, and the sub fielder Tim Southee runs in and takes another fine catch. The game takes another twist as Woakes comes to the crease. 196-5.
The ECB have all the luck. They do everything in their power to hide the game away from as many people as possible, and then when they fluke a game being shown on Free to Air, they get a thriller to remind everyone what is missing.
18:29 – Woakes gets off strike at the second time of asking. England need a boundary or two, and it’s all on Ben Stokes. The pendulum has swung dramatically with that wicket, and New Zealand might well be favourites here. Four!! Stokes somehow pings it through midwicket off the back foot, lacking any kind of finesse whatever. But it’s unlikely anyone cares at this stage.
18:34 – WICKET! Woakes has a massive heave at Ferguson, and it goes straight up in the air. Latham makes an awful meal of it, but clings on, just. And at this stage, no runs off a ball is a nice bonus. All of which means it’s Plunkett time. 203-6
Plunkett can’t get his first couple of balls away, which is hardly surprising given the situation. But it all adds to the ever spiralling required run rate and the pressure. But wait, he then responds by belting it through midwicket for four. But that’s it for the over, and again England are short of what they needed. They have a chance, but it’s getting harder and harder.
Hussain is on commentary talking about the pitch dying and what a clever and brave decision it was to bat first. Not so sure that was said by too many at the time.
18:40 – Right, 34 needed from three overs.
Four!! Again over midwicket from Stokes. 30 from 17 balls.
Next ball through square leg for one. Five off the first couple of balls is just what was needed.
Lads – get me a drink will you?
Plunkett too goes towards cow corner, and picks up a couple of runs. Good over so far for England.
Down the ground this time, the pair scamper for two. 217-6
And a single to finish the over. 24 runs needed from 12 balls.
18:44 – We’re all perfectly relaxed aren’t we? Indifferent. Calm. Utterly chilled, right? Neesham to bowl the penultimate over, and England really need it to be a big one.
Single for Plunkett. 23 off 11.
Single to Stokes. 22 from 10. A super over has been mentioned – I think England would take that right now.
18:47 WICKET!! Plunkett goes down the ground, but doesn’t get the distance. England are falling short here. The one positive is that Stokes is back on strike, but this is now needing something spectacular. 22 from 9 as Archer comes in.
Six!! Wow, that’s extraordinary. Stokes goes big over deep midwicket, and Boult catches him, but his foot treads on the boundary rope. Guptill is quick to signal it was six as well. 16 from 8.
Single from Stokes. Archer has the last ball of the over to face. WICKET!! Archer has a slog, misses and is bowled. England are 8 down, and it’s going to be entirely down to Stokes to pull off a miracle. 15 needed from the final over, or 14 to take us to a Super Over. Which would be fun, wouldn’t it?
18:52 – Right, the final over, to be bowled by Trent Boult, who has been excellent as ever.
Stokes declines the single. 15 from 5 balls.
And again. 15 from 4.
Six!! Bloody hell. Stokes absolutely smashes a slog sweep for six over midwicket. 9 from 3.
Well that is accidental, but probably controversial. It counts as six runs, as Stokes hits a couple, and as the throw comes in it deflects off him for an additional four overthrows. Completely accidental, but this puts England right in the box seat. Never seen anything quite like that.
I need a drink. So do the umpires it seems, as they have a chat, but it went for four overthrows, there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Sheer good or bad luck.
3 from 2
WICKET!! More mayhem. England go for 2 runs to try and get Stokes back on strike. Rashid is run out by a mile, but Stokes is back on strike. 2 needed off the last ball, but 1 for a super over. What drama.
Here we go:
WICKET!! It’s a tie!! Surely! England go for two, but Wood is run out, and we have a super over. Jesus Christ. That was the most extraordinary final over I’ve ever seen – the six caught on the boundary, the accidental four overthrows, the two run outs. What a finish. What an incredible finish.
Fantastic innings from Stokes. What a magnificent bowling and fielding performance from New Zealand. Who the hell do the teams pick for a super over? How big is Channel 4’s audience right now? Where the hell is that drink?
19:08 SUPER OVER
Stokes and Buttler come out to bat for England.
Outside edge from Stokes, over third man, and they sprint three runs. Buttler on strike…
Four runs! Another slog sweep from Stokes, that goes flat through midwicket and beats the diving fielder. 8 runs off the first three balls and it’s a fine start from England.
Single. 9-0 off 4 balls. Buttler back on strike. A six would be nice…instead it’s a fine yorker, that Buttler screws out to deep extra cover. Nicholls doesn’t pick the ball up and they get two.
Four! Buttler goes over midwicket! That’s a big total in one over, and New Zealand need 16 to win.
It’ll be Archer to bowl for England. If the scores are level, it comes down to who hit the most boundaries, and that’s England. So New Zealand do indeed need 16, if they get 15 then England will win. Which is kind of a pity, because I was thinking we might have super overs for the rest of eternity, in a glorious, never ending arm wrestle for the title.
Guptill and Neesham come out to bat. This can’t be easy, it’s been seemingly years since they batted today, and to have to come out, fresh and tee off for one over is a bit of a challenge to say the least. England have the advantage already, even without having scored 15 runs off theirs.
Archer bowling from the other end to that he’s been bowling from. Interesting call.
Starts with a wide. 15 from 6 now.
Fine yorker second ball, but it’s drilled down the ground by Neesham for two. 3 off the first ball effectively.
Six! Huge over midwicket from Neesham. And suddenly New Zealand are almost there.
Two runs. A misfield from Roy allows a second run. 5 from 3 needed.
Two again. 3 from 2. England really need a wicket.
And here we go, two runs needed from the last ball. Not only did it go to the last ball of the normal game, not only did it go to a super over, it’s gone to the last ball of the super over. What a game.
England have won the World Cup! And even at the last, it was extraordinary, a run out going for the second run.
Collecting thoughts from that finish is going to take a little while. Sport is just the most incredible thing, and that was the most extraordinary possible finish. Undoubtedly this will be shown again and again over the years to come, and please God the TV audience on Channel 4 was enormous. I’m sure it would have been, because word would have gone around about the utterly incredible conclusion.
England finally get their hands on the World Cup, New Zealand, have the consolation which is no consolation at all of being the unluckiest runners up they could possibly have been. It can’t be said England deserved the win, because it can’t be said that New Zealand deserved to lose. But someone has to win, and someone doesn’t. The deflection off a diving Stokes to go for four overthrows was probably the margin between the sides at the end, and that probably says it all.
After such events, the “Greatest of All Time” comments come out of course, and usually cause eye rolling, but in white ball cricket, that might be hard to argue against. This one really might well have been.
England have been gracious in their interviews, New Zealand are understandably crushed. At this point, I’ll call time on the live blog, and go and get something to drink. Thanks for the company, and of course the comments are still open. TLG.