England win cricket World Cup in wild and crazy final

I cannot really do justice to the incredible game that was just played. England won in the end after a tie-breaker within a tie-breaker. It was really wild, with fortunes swinging this way and that, and with some freak plays at the very end. You can read a comprehensive report here. In short (and this summary comes nowhere close to capturing the drama that took place on the field) , what happened was that New Zealand batted first and scored 241 in their 50 overs (300 deliveries) for the loss of eight wickets. England also scored exactly the same number of runs in their 50 overs, losing their last wicket off the very last ball, making it a rare tied game.

The game then went into a so-called ‘Super Over’ tie-breaker where each team gets to bat for just one over (six deliveries). England batted first and scored 15 runs. Then New Zealand batted and also scored the same number of runs but England were awarded the victory based on the second tie-breaker rule, the fact that they had scored two ‘boundaries’ (where the ball is hit out of bounds and scores four runs or six runs depending on whether it bounces before it crosses boundary) in their six deliveries, while New Zealand hit just one.

I have never liked the Super Over tie-breaker system. It seems a shame to use it in a game where both teams played so well and so evenly. To decide the result based on the number of boundaries in six balls somehow diminishes the glorious game that had just been played. I don’t see anything wrong with declaring the two teams joint champions after the 50 over tied score. They both deserved it for playing one of the most exciting games in cricket history.

One point that I hope cricket authorities learn from this tournament is that ‘difficult’ pitches lead to more exciting games. Because of the increasing popularity of the very short form T20 game (where each team faces just 120 deliveries) that favors big hitting at the expense of everything else, there has been a tendency to tilt the game to favor the batters, mainly by preparing pitches that give little help to the bowlers. As a result, in the 50 over games, we routinely see scores of over 300, frequently over 350, and occasionally even 400. But in this World Cup, the most tense and exciting games have been on ‘difficult’ pitches where there was better balance between bat and ball and scores were 250 or less. Difficult pitches require batters to dig deep into their skill sets to score runs and encourages bowlers to try to get batters out instead of focusing mainly on trying to prevent runs being scored.

But this tournament and the final has been a great advertisement for cricket in general and that is all to the good. Congratulations to the England team on their win but New Zealand have every right to feel that they had earned an equal share in the trophy, although the record books will record them as runners up.


  1. file thirteen says

    Congratulations England, and it was indeed a great advertisement for the sport. I’m a fan of the super over myself. The teams were matched on the day, but there can only be one winner and while luck will feature in any tie-break method used, its better than a coin toss. Compare it to soccer’s penalty shoot-out.

  2. Jazzlet says

    Thank you for posting this Mano, I read bits out to Mr J who has now gone in search of who it was that was out on the last ball and how, rather than reading yet more depressing news about the Tory leadership race. Cricket is far less depressing than any political news in the UK at the moment and would be even if England hadn’t won.

  3. deepak shetty says

    Ah it was tough to decide whether to watch this or Wimbledon. Whoever I supported lost in both cases 🙁
    I do think the law for overthrows needs to be re-thought -- The fielding side shouldn’t be penalised if the ball hits one of the batsmen. But a superb match.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    file thirteen @1:

    Compare it to soccer’s penalty shoot-out.

    Yeah, that is a travesty*. If the match is tied after extra time, give it to the side which earned the most corners. That at least is a measure of attacking intent, and would spur the side with fewer corners to attack rather than play for a draw. I suspect a lot of players would favour this method, cuz who needs the extra bloody drama and the risk of being the scapegoat?

    *And I’m not just saying that because I’m an England supporter, honest!

  5. Mano Singham says

    file thirteen @#1,

    One does not always require just one winner. I can see the need for tie-breaking rules to decide a winner if (say) that is necessary in order to determine a single team that gets to go to the next round of a tournament. But there is nothing wrong with joint winners of a championship.

    Soccer is different in that it is a low-scoring game in which final scores are often tied. But even there, I hate the penalty shoot-out tie-breaker, because it depends upon such a very narrow slice of the skills that make up the game. I would favor something different, perhaps along the lines of ten minutes extra time in which each team plays with a greatly reduced number of players. It would be kind of like seven-a-side rugby, where scoring is much more frequent than in the regular fifteen-a-side format.

  6. file thirteen says

    @Mano #5

    My point was meant to be that the super over is better than the penalty shoot-out, but on reflection I wasn’t very clear.

    As far as tied winners go, I feel it’s a lost cause to try and highlight the closeness of the contest. Suppose that we did as you say and declared both teams joint winners. Then how unfair would it be on another team in another game who lost a game by a single run, not having their valiant effort recorded as practically good enough for a draw compared to others who were soundly beaten? Wherever you draw the line, someone is going to slip just outside it.

    In this game England won, based on the rules of what had to be done in a very close contest. The history lists will show them as winners, but aficionados of the sport will marvel over the closeness of the contest (and maybe even watch replays of the match) long after all participants (and you and I) are gone. As a New Zealander I would have preferred it if we had won, but we didn’t.

  7. file thirteen says

    And if there’s anything I rue about the game, it was the overthrow for six. For those that missed it, England required 9 (I think, or was it 8?) off the last three balls, and hit a ball which would have been two runs, only when Martin Guptil (NZ) fielded it and threw it in, it happened to bounce off an English player’s bat (man of the match Ben Stokes) and raced away to the boundary, meaning they got another four runs. So, six off a shot that should have been two at most, and England followed it up with enough to tie the score off the last two balls. Damnedest luck!

  8. fentex says

    Winning on boundaries is just so silly -- it’s pandering to an idea that’s antithetical to good cricket.

    It is not baseball, hittng big is not the point.

    At that stage who kept the most wickjet in theirv innings makes more sense as a decider, but if you’re going to use ‘Super Overs’ because you want a decisive result and spectacle then you should use them unitl you get the result.

    As to football -- it’s easy to do better; if all tied after extra time keep playing removing a player from each team every ten minutes until a goal is scored.

    And it would make some sense in cricket to, at a reasonable point (tied scores, tied wickets), share the cup -- it’s in the spirit of the game to do that.

    The overthrow rule doesn’t need changing -- fielding teams need to keep control of the ball and being punished for not doing that is perfectly fine -- it’s an irritating as hell bit of luck but there were manym oments of luck through out every game, they all count.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mano @5:

    I would favor something different, perhaps along the lines of ten minutes extra time in which each team plays with a greatly reduced number of players

    Having on occasion played 120 minutes of football, I hate this idea. Going into a major tournament these days, a lot of players are already near exhaustion. Unless you’re putting on mostly unused substitutes…but such a format would still, I think, be an insult to the spirit of the sport. I’d rather they toss a coin, but still prefer the method I mentioned in #4.

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    file thirteen @7:

    Damnedest luck!

    A lot of close matches are decided by luck, and it’s not even that rare (in any sport) for the marginally better side to lose. That’s why I’m not averse to deciding tied tournament knock-out matches by a coin toss. Just one more bit o’ luck.

  11. file thirteen says

    @fentex #8

    Considering wickets remaining could remove the need to have a super over at all, but that would cause confusion among the spectators who might expect it, so I see the merit of making it standard. Then once the super overs happen, you don’t want to fall back on a previous tiebreak format if they’re tied, so I understand boundaries as being the decider (because they come from the super overs alone). Does anybody know what happens next if they are tied too? Not that it mattered.

    To be fair, I don’t think they made many contingencies for what might happen if the super over was tied. Has that ever happened before? And the tv broadcasters, and even some of the crowd, just want there to be a result already. It was really falling well within coin toss territory.

  12. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#10,

    We can never eliminate the role of luck. It will always be part of any sport, and indeed of life. What we should try to do is minimize it’s importance.

    I think tennis has done a pretty good job with designing tie-breakers that still depend on the full spectrum of playing abilities and not just a narrow slice.

  13. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#9,

    But they play extra time already. I am saying that after the regulation time is over, the extra time currently used should be played with a greatly reduced number of players.

  14. file thirteen says

    @Mano #12

    Tennis has, yes, and with the finals falling at about the same time it’s tempting to compare with that. But they’re really chalk and cheese. Cricket is a team sport, and among the rarer team sports where one whole team faces off against a fraction of the other at a time. So you can’t even easily go to overtime in cricket, let alone do what tennis can.

    Perhaps another option might be to replace the super over with a number of overs instead? (six?) That would reduce the chance of further tiebreaks being required, but then you would have to work out very carefully how many batters would be permitted. If you were to say that any wicket would end the “super innings”, then players would play extremely defensively, but if you allowed all ten, you would have created a decider along the lines of T20, with batsmen trying for a boundary off every ball. Neither are in the spirit of the limited overs game.

    In short, I think whatever you did some would still find it contrived.

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mano @13: Yes, but your format is not football. It’s five-a-side, or whatever. Should a tied rugby union QF, SF or Final be decided by a sevens match? It’s not the same sport. At least the coin toss has the virtue of not pretending to be football (or whatever sport). Just “we slugged it out, and we’re even. Let the gods decide who progresses”.

    I think there is a profound philosophical difference here 😉

  16. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#15,

    True it is different but it retains all the key features of the game such as dribbling, passing, heading, shooting, tackling, and goalkeeping. What will change are the strategy and tactics.

    Yes, I guess we are never going to agree!

  17. Mano Singham says

    file thirteen @#14,

    I agree that no plan is going to get universal approval. But this current one seems particularly inadequate to me.

  18. file thirteen says

    Another thing, we’re talking a very rare event (tied cricket scores), so we shouldn’t need to provide a long contingency battle to avoid the coin toss. Given its rarity, I reckon one extra over each is sufficient.

  19. file thirteen says

    @fentex #8

    I said

    Then once the super overs happen, you don’t want to fall back on a previous tiebreak format if they’re tied, so I understand boundaries as being the decider (because they come from the super overs alone)

    In fact this is wrong, the tiebreak was the number of boundaries scored in the match. That being the case, I agree with you that wickets remaining would be a better tiebreak.

  20. fentex says

    file thirteen@11 “To be fair, I don’t think they made many contingencies for what might happen if the super over was tied. Has that ever happened before?

    No, because this is the first time Super Overs have been used -- they’re an import from “Twenty Twenty” cricket -- which is a perversion of the sport (it’s an attempt to make cricket into baseball to package a chewable size product).

    It used to be that a draw would see the trophy shared.

    But I think your suggestion that in a draw the pool competition result should be taken as the result is a good one.

  21. VolcanoMan says

    Rob @15

    I’m with Mano on this. It IS football (though I guess as you said, it’s a philosophical difference that can’t really be resolved). The rules remain exactly the same, minus 2 players (or 3, or whatever they decide). It allows the teams to finish a game by PLAYING the game, rather than by taking 5 penalty kicks (which is far LESS football than reduced-player extra-time…penalties are NOT football). And it would absolute work to reduce games decided on penalties.

    The National Hockey League wanted to reduce the number of shootout-decided games (the shootout was introduced in 2005, after 5 minutes of 4-on-4 sudden-death overtime was played with no resolution). You’ll note that overtime was already reduced from the 5-on-5 that is standard during regulation time (and was also standard in overtime prior to 1999). But after ties were abolished, shootouts were eventually deemed to be happening too often (which was perceived as favouring some teams and putting others at a disadvantage for reasons other than their ability to play hockey AS A TEAM). So they removed an additional skater off the ice during overtime, making it 3-on-3. And it worked. Before the change, 57% of overtime games went to shootout. Since the change, it’s only 34%, a 40% relative reduction. Additionally, 3 on 3 overtime is EXCITING, and it relies on players playing as a TEAM, and not on individual skill. Granted, gaining possession on the opening faceoff is a MASSIVE advantage (since one possession can result in more than one scoring chance, and the team that gets possession, if they play conservatively, can keep it for more than half of the 5 minutes of overtime), and THAT can rely on individual skill, but it’s a skill that is relied upon dozens of times during a hockey game (plus, teams can put their best faceoff-taker on the ice to give themselves the best chance at winning). Taking a penalty shot (outside of a shootout) is pretty rare; this past season it happened just 43 times in 1,271 games (though I know it happens more in football, it is still not THAT common).

    If I was FIFA, I’d make the change thusly -- make extra time consist of two 10 minute periods of 8-on-8 football (unless a player has been sent off, in which case it would be 8-on-7), and if the score is still tied, I’d add a 10 minute golden goal period played 7-on-7 (with the team that scored last getting possession at the beginning of the final 10 minutes). After that, penalties. Although I really do like your idea of giving the team with the most corners the win…that’s quite clever, since to get a corner, you’re forcing the opposing team to deliberately put the ball out of bounds, meaning that every corner you get represents a scoring chance (and thus, the balance of corners is a good proxy for relative skill, both offensive and defensive). I wouldn’t be opposed to eliminating draws altogether, and having normal league games that are tied after 90 minutes finish by giving 2 points to the team with the most corners, and 1 point to the other team. So the “winning” team doesn’t get the full 3 points, but 2 points is better than 1. And the team with less corners as the clock ticks down has an incentive to keep pushing the play, which could result in them making a mistake that leads to a goal against. It would add a bit of action to even truly dull games.

  22. Mano Singham says

    I agree with file thirteen @#19 that in the event of a tie in the knock out rounds, the result in the pool game should be the decider.

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