December 9, 2023

By Richard Beale……

I wish I had a Lira or a Pound for every time I heard  “cricket is so boring”, I would be a millionaire and not only in Lira terms.

Last Sunday the UK hosted a tremendous day of British Sport (British Grand Prix, Wimbledon Men’s Single Finals and the Cricket World Cup). It was Cricket that took the major headlines on TV and in the newspapers as the England Men’s cricket team “won” the 2019 World Cup for the first time in their history. They now join the Women’s Cricket team, who won it 2 years ago, the 2003 England Rugby Union team and of course the 1966 England Football team, as World Champions.

I say England “won” but there were no losers in this pulsating final, cricket was the winner, the spirit of cricket was the winner it was probably one of the greatest sporting contests in the history of British sport.

It reminded me of a heavyweight boxing contest, both fighters winning a round, then losing a round, putting their opponent down then being knocked down themselves again – no one giving an inch.

England and New Zealand could not be separated after 50 overs, they could not be separated after the “Super over”, England “won” having scored more boundaries (6’s and 4’s} 26 compared to New Zealand 17 in the match.

The match didn’t rain 6’s or 4’s, on a tricky surface it was an attritional affair but that made it more interesting and nail biting as England slowly ground down New Zealand’s score of 241.

At Lords the atmosphere was electric and emotional, it was like that at the Spice Garden, Küçük Erenköy where I watched  England’s reply. Khalid and his staff are all cricket fanatics and they were involved in the atmosphere as well in between serving drinks and meals.

Friends who have no interest in cricket were texting me saying they were glued to their TVs they couldn’t leave the game for a minute.

It was a good gesture by Sky TV to allow Channel 4 and More 4 to screen “free to air television”, this was the first time since the 2005 Ashes that the “masses’ had seen live cricket. The sport will benefit from this and hopefully a few more youngsters will want to become the next Ben Stokes.

Being retired and living here and the weather being so hot, DIY jobs have taken a back seat, so with most of the matches in the World Cup starting over here at 12-30pm I was able to watch the majority of the games – internet permitting!

The format was spot on, 10 teams all playing each other, the only “minnow’ nation being Afghanistan playing in their first ever World Cup. This war torn country can feel proud of themselves, they didn’t win a game but they came close on a couple of occasions, and they will continue to improve.

The best 4 teams in the competition (England, New Zealand, India and Australia) made it to the Semi-Finals, where both matches were brilliant. New Zealand beating India in a nail biting low scoring match and England thumping the “old enemy” Australia convincingly.

Difference between “winning and losing” New Zealand’s Martin Guptill is run out by just half a meter and right “Man of the Match” Ben Stokes.

Since England were humiliated by New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup, England have played a brand of “no fear” cricket they keep on attacking, they bat long and chasing scores of over 300  has no worries for them. They have come unstuck a few times but they have been probably the best white ball team in the world over the last 4 years. This team have been together now for a while, they are at the peak of their game and winning the World Cup is their reward.

You must feel sorry for New Zealand twice the bridesmaid in the last two World Cups. After 7 weeks of cricket, 48 matches they failed to win it by half-meter when Martin Guptill was run out going for that winning run off the last ball of that Super Over. Such a small but vast margin between winning and losing, such a small margin between the teams as well.

For England Ben Stokes was immense in that Final, he and Josh Butler bringing England back from the brink of defeat. Jofra Archer, poached from West Indies Under 19 team was the star of the Tournament for England. Yet to win a full Test Cap this 24 year old provided England with genuine pace and was a handful to most of the batsmen. Hopefully he can blow away the Aussies in the Ashes series coming up in August.

Never before, especially in a Final, has anybody seen a finish like that, people will never forget it and will be talking about it for years to come. Both teams did their Countries proud, both teams did cricket proud. This wonderful sport has at long last reached out to the people, long live cricket and I hope I never hear those words again “cricket is boring” !

Translate » to your language