England celebrate their first World Cup win.
England celebrate their first World Cup win.

'There will never be a greater match in history'

England has sensationally won its first ever World Cup by the finest of margin possible after a boundary countback was used to split the most even cricket match ever played.

The first cricket match broadcast on free-to-air television in the United Kingdom in 15 years was also the sport's greatest in history, as Ben Stokes saved England from the eternal agony a defeat would've triggered.

Stokes rode two large slices of luck to drag England into a Super Over against New Zealand and then helped pound 15 runs off Trent Boult to set Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill 16 runs for the trophy.

England turned to Jofra Archer, who made his international debut just 72 days ago, to defend the total and snap the country's 44-year World Cup curse.

 

 

Joy unconfined for England after their first ever World Cup win.
Joy unconfined for England after their first ever World Cup win.

It was a sloppy start. Archer's first arrow was wide of the marker, and he then conceded 10 runs in three balls as Neesham middled a six that spiked the heart-rates of the capacity crowd at Lord's.

A Jason Roy fumble allowed Neesham and Guptill to scamper home for a second run, and so Roy was taken out of the fielding hot-spot.

With Guptill needing two runs off the final ball of the Super Over for victory, he whipped Archer to deep square, where Roy was waiting.

But this time Roy gathered cleanly and let rip a lightning throw, which was coolly collected by Buttler, who ran out Guptill by one metre.

While that left the teams tied on 15 runs from the super-over, the World Cup was awarded to England because it won the boundary count 27-16.

 

 

The bizarre ICC rule was explained to spectators before the Super Over, with England effectively entering the tiebreaker with a one-run advantage.

As Buttler completed the Guptill run-out, Archer and his teammates took off, sprinting in celebration as generations of misery washed away for England.

Fifteen minutes later and they were guzzling champagne during a lap of honour and passing around just England's third major World Cup of any kind, after the 1966 FIFA World Cup and 2003 rugby World Cup victories.

 

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler's partnership dug England out of a hole in the middle of their run chase.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler's partnership dug England out of a hole in the middle of their run chase.

 

But it appeared England's four years of 50-over dominance was set to end in utter despair when the greatest batting line-up the country has ever assembled started to choke on a mild run chase.

New Zealand's largely unheralded and no-frills attack looked likely to defend 7/241 when captain Eoin Morgan left England 4/86. The Lord's crowd then started to resemble India's devoted supporters - they erupted for everything, be it a single or merely bat on ball.

But Stokes (84 not-out off 98 balls) and Buttler (59 off 60) dragged the chase into the death overs before Stokes cashed in on two moments for the ages.

 

 

Buttler's wife makes him sleep in the spare room before cricket matches and he looked to be well-rested when he guided England out of the hole before his first mistake was brilliantly taken by sprinting substitute Tim Southee.

Boult had the chance to catch Stokes - and the World Cup - but he stepped on the rope, gifting England its first six of the innings in the second-last over.

Stokes was then set 15 runs off Boult's final over for the trophy, and the $4 million (USD) in prize money for the champion.

He started with two dot balls, first turning down a single and then finding a fielder. The equation was 15 runs off four balls.

Then, Stokes whacked Boult over mid-wicket for six.  After that, as Stokes sprinted back for a second, a Martin Guptill throw was deflected past keeper Tom Latham.

 

 

Liam Plunkett was England's chief weapon in the middle overs.
Liam Plunkett was England's chief weapon in the middle overs.

 

With Stokes laying flat on his stomach after diving to get home, he was unable to run for an overthrow. But he didn't need to, instead celebrating from the ground as the ball rolled to the rope, as England somehow stole six runs off that delivery.

That cut the equation to three off two. Adil Rashid was then run-out for a diamond duck, but that brought Stokes back on strike as Rashid was returning to the non-strikers end.

The equation? Two off one.

Boult bowled a full toss, searching for a yorker, and, like Rashid, Mark Wood was run-out for a diamond duck trying to complete a second.

Stokes kicked his bat away in frustration, but he had levelled the scores, and sent the World Cup final to a Super Over.

Adding to New Zealand's frustration would be Mitchell Santner's decision to duck the final ball of his innings.

 

 

For most of the day the fearsome firepower of Jonny Bairstow, Roy, Buttler and Morgan were no match for the dibbly-dobblers  of Colin de Grandhomme.

The Kiwi allrounder, who sounds more like a New York street address than a crafty cricketer, jagged 1/25 (10 overs) to put the brakes on. He conceded just one boundary, with the 59 other deliveries building the pressure.

It was billed as 'Super Sunday' - a Wimbledon final for the ages playing out 25 minutes down the road from Lord's, while the British Grand Prix was on at Silverstone - yet Morgan and Williamson's men morphed it into so much more than that.

England players led by Bairstow openly prioritised winning the World Cup over the Ashes, citing that it was time to deliver the country a trophy that had forever eluded it.

It was a bold call, and one that looked likely to backfire as Test captain Joe Root (seven off 30) played an uncomfortable innings. Aaron Finch said his senior players, the captain included, blew it for Australia in the semi-final and it was a similar story for some of England's main men.

Trent Boult and his team-mates did not deserve to be on the end of a cruel defeat.
Trent Boult and his team-mates did not deserve to be on the end of a cruel defeat.

Captain Eoin Morgan (nine off 22) trudged off after Lockie Ferguson's brilliant diving catch was deemed clean by TV replays, while Test captain Joe Root (seven off 30) never looked comfortable.

It was two strikes and you're out for Root who, after failing to connect a wild and unnecessary baseball swing, doubled-down the next ball and was caught behind.

Former Test captain Michael Vaughan said he hadn't see Root play like that in several years and the tension in the crowd, and the press box, left fingernails in the firing line.

England conceded 18 wides, which was the most by a team in a World Cup final. But Bairstow ended the tournament with 532 runs, a record for a player in his maiden World Cup.

New Zealand pace ace Lockie Ferguson snared his 13th wicket taken in the middle overs, surpassing Mitchell Starc's 12.

England was always going to be the story, win or lose. That in itself says plenty about New Zealand, the no-frills team which nearly pinched a trophy.

Earlier, Kiwi big-hitter Ross Taylor was given out lbw for just 15 (31), although ball tracker said Wood's length ball would've missed the top of leg stump.

But Taylor couldn't review because of opener Guptill's inexplicable decision to burn New Zealand's review on an lbw shout that was plumb.

The Black Caps endured 92 balls without a boundary as England's attack went into strangle mode. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who incorrectly gave England opener Jason Roy out in the semi-final, again came under fire with three of his decisions reviewed and two deemed incorrect.

That included Chris Woakes' lbw shout at Nicholls, although the Kiwi batsman received a life when ball tracker showed the ball trampolining over the stumps, despite it appearing plumb to the naked eye.

Nicholls was yet to score and went on to anchor the first half of the innings with a sturdy 55 (77).

The Black Caps were regarded by some as fortunate semi-finalists. They crept in on net-run-rate, having banked a point against India because of a downpour in Nottingham, but after rolling India and tying with England you couldn't question their worth.

However they say nice guys finish last and, sadly for the Kiwis, that was the case at Lord's.