No matter what camp you’re in, there’s no denying it: That was one of the all-time great games of cricket. England managing to topple New Zealand via countback, after the two sides finished level after both the regular innings and a subsequent super over, will go down in history as one of – if not the – greatest finishes the sport has ever seen. And while England are basking in the glory of their first-ever World Cup win, controversy surrounding the game still lingers. And now there’s a wild new claim that asserts that not only should New Zealand have won the game outright, but a blown umpiring call may have cost them ultimate success.
The issues stem from England’s frantic run chase in the second innings of the game, where a last gasp effort spearheaded by Ben Stokes drew England level with New Zealand’s target of 241 runs on the last ball of regulation.
With just three balls remaining Ben Stokes clubbed a ball into the deep and scrambled through for two runs. However the return throw from the Kiwis accidentally struck the bat of Stokes as he lunged for the crease, ricocheting off and running away to the boundary, with the umpires awarding 6 runs for the play: 2 off the bat, 4 overthrows.
However, ESPNCricinfo writer Andrew Miller claims that the umpires inadvertently robbed New Zealand of the final by misapplying a rule which gifted England one run too many out of the incident.
The claim asserts that, because Stokes and batting partner Adil Rashid had not crossed for their second run at the point where Kiwi fielder Martin Guptill released his throw, England should have only been awarded five runs, not six. That would’ve given New Zealand a one-run victory in regulation.
The claim reads thusly:
According to Law 19.8, pertaining to “Overthrow or wilful act of fielder”, it would appear that England’s second on-field run should not have counted, making it a total of five runs for the incident, not six.
The law states: “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.”
The crucial clause is the last part. A review of the footage of the incident shows clearly that, at the moment the ball was released by the New Zealand fielder, Martin Guptill, Stokes and his partner, Adil Rashid, had not yet crossed for their second run.
It’s a technicality for sure, but cricket was built on them so who bloody knows.
The ICC has reportedly been asked to clarify any ambiguity lingering over Ben Stokes’ “bat of god” incident, but whatever ruling won’t change the outcome of the game. Which makes this whole ordeal a real bitter pill to swallow for New Zealanders.
Ya just bloody feel for ’em.