Kane and Eoin: Could Jeffry Archer script a better World Cup Final match?

It is just quite unbelievable to run your mind through the scenes of last night. I mean what a match! It seemed to have taken inspiration from the semi-final of 1999 played between Aus and South Africa and take it couple of levels higher.

Hearts weep for NZ which fought and fought despite not being most people’s favorites. Before the match, most experts said heart says NZ but mind says England as latter is a better team. And what a shame that they lost in such a fashion despite being a better team on the day with limited resources and challenging England on all fronts which had superior resources.

In a way NZ did not lose to England but to ICC whose stupid rule that in case of a tie in Super over, the team that scores more boundaries wins?! One can say, no one imagined that any match could be stretched this far, but you cannot have a more stupid rule than this. It is like these two tennis players who tie the scores in the last set, and the rulebook says in such a case the player who hit more aces will win. Or two sprinters with same timing seperated based on someone taking less steps than the other. Incidentally, if tennis had such a rule, Federer would have won yesterday’s iconic match against Djokovic.

The rule was so unjust that is difficult to digest. Loss and win is part of sports and one always sulks for the team which loses despite playing like a champion. Think about South Africa all these years whoch loses as somehow it chokes when it comes to crunch matches. But there is no injustice there. So, if NZ had lost either in terms of runs or wickets one would be fine. This is how all cricket matches are won or lost.

But NZ lost because they scored 17 boundaries compared to England’s 25. I mean what kind of a rule is this? Is ICC saying that those who run all these runs did a worse job than those who just hit fours? How unfair is that for a rule?

I mean football, hockey, tennis etc all have tie-breakers to sort out the winner in such even matches. Cricket has a super-over but just like tie-breakers it should continue till we do not have a winner.

In the end, all one can say is NZ fought against all odds and even Gods. It is as if Gods had decided that come what may, England will win. NZ challenged this saying how can you decide this without playing and challenged this in all possible ways. So many things went against them: Ross Taylor given out when he was not, Jason Roy was out first ball but was not, Stokes was caught but Boult stepped on the line and finally that last over throw which deflected from Stokes bat to give additional four runs to England! In all of these, they could not do anything but just move on with the game.

In Super over, they were given a steep target of 16 runs. Even then, NZ did not give up, surprised by sending Neesham who almost pulled off scoring 14 of those (including 1 wide) runs.

If there was one thing ICC got right it was awarding NZ captain Kane Williamson, the player of the tournament. I mean what a player. To be he is the best captain I have seen, as he just marshaled his limited resources like no one else could. He scored most runs as a captain in all World Cups, he scored 30% of team totals which was again highest and never complained. His press conferences are a delight and he is such an amazing ambassador for both NZ and the game.

Kane defies the usual thing that captains should be aggressive and show it on the field. He always does things quietly but with lots of mental aggression and strategy. He made both India and England which had top batters earn ever run. Those who thought Semi Final was a fluke, Williamson made them chew their words.

Kane is even an economist’s delight as he shows how one can optimally utilise the limited resources, the definition most commonly used by economists to define economics.

The ending of the drama made me recall a novel written by Jeffry Archer: Kane and Abel. In the book, the two protagonists named Kane and Abel fight for the supremacy in the corporate world. Abel always thought Kane as a villain whose bank denied the early funds to Abel’s hotel leading to bitter frictions between the two. Abel was saved by an anonymous benefactor. In the end, Abel learns that Kane was that anonymous benefactor who seeing passion of Abel decided to fund the hotel from his own pockets. Abel wins the corporate battle at the end yet ends like a loser.

I had a similar feeling watching yesterday’s matches. Infact, the name of Kane in the novel was Kane Lovell Williams not very different from Kane Williamson of NZ. The WC Final mattered to both the captains but perhaps a bit more to Eoin Morgan, the English captain.

After being humiliated in 2015, English under Morgan completely changed plans and became the number one side. They wanted to play a game which brings English pride back in the game and inspire the nextgen of English cricketers. They started the World Cup as favorites only to come to a stage where they could be knocked off before semis, fought back like champions and thrashed Australia in a semi-final. Only to meet NZ in a final which just competed and competed and gave nothing.

Just like the novel, the gracious Kane Williamson like the gracious Kane Lovell William, was like an anonymous benefactor of the prized trophy to Eoin Morgan.

He saw how Eoin Morgan and his team have fought all kinds of demons to emerge as number one team. NZ will still pick up from here but England would have been more devastated with the loss given how much they have wanted this result. But then just like Abel, Eoin will know and remember the gracious Kane who saw life beyond cricket and gave Eion a chance without telling him about it! He owes as much to Kane as to anybody.

How else does one explain this result?

 

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