Ben Stokes stars as England win Cricket World Cup final in Super Over
Ben Stokes played a charmed innings to mastermind England’s triumph in the most closely fought final in men’s Cricket World Cup history.
England, who played in their fourth final, claimed the trophy for the first time by beating New Zealand, who had reached in the decider for the second consecutive time.
But it needed a super over to separate the sides after the match was tied — New Zealand totalled 241/8 and England were dismissed for 241.
Even that wasn’t enough to decide the issue: both teams scored 15 runs in the super over, so the equation was further distilled to which side had hit the most boundaries.
All told, super over and everything, New Zealand hit 14 fours and three sixes.
England? Twenty-four fours and two sixes.
Arise, World Cup champions. And good luck to the keepers of the annals, who will struggle to smuggle that scoreline neatly into their records.
New Zealand have batted first only three other times in their 11 games in the tournament, and twice in those matches they have made smaller totals than Sunday’s 241/8. They won one of those games and lost the other.
Their most dependable batters, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, who between them had scored both of the centuries and five of the 11 half-centuries the Kiwis have made during the World Cup going into the final, were dismissed for 30 and 15.
It was left to opener Henry Nicholls, playing only his third match of a tournament in which his 28 against India in the semi-final at Old Trafford, to provide stability with his 77-ball 55.
Williamson helped Nicholls add 74 for the second wicket, the only half-century stand of the innings, and No. 5 Tom Latham’s 47 was New Zealand’s next best effort.
Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer used the new ball effectively for England, and Woakes took 3/37.
Liam Plunkett claimed 3/42, taking all of his wickets with cross-seam deliveries.
Of England’s six bowlers, only Ben Stokes, who went wicketless for 20 off three overs, conceded five or more runs a ball.
New Zealand defended a lower total as recently as Wednesday, when they made 239/8 in their semi-final against India at Old Trafford and won by 18 runs.
But they reduced the Indians to 5/3 in the first 19 balls of the innings — the like of which they couldn’t repeat on Sunday.
Instead Jonny Bairstow stood firm through stands of 28 with Jason Roy and 31 with Joe Root.
Roy was fortunate to survive, by the slimmest of “umpire’s call” margins, which was handed down after South Africa’s Marius Erasmus decided the Englishman was not out, when the New Zealanders reviewed Trent Boult’s shout for lbw off the first ball of the innings.
Then Colin de Grandhomme dropped a return catch Bairstow offered in the 11th, when he was 18 and England were 39/1.
Root gave De Grandhomme some solace six overs later when he flashed at a wide delivery and was caught behind.
Bairstow went for 36 three overs after that, dragging Lockie Ferguson onto his stumps.
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And when Ferguson roared in from the cover boundary to catch, centimetres from the turf, Jimmy Neesham’s first ball of the match — which had been hammered there by Eoin Morgan — England were 86/4 and reduced to their last pair of proper batters.
But they were Stokes and Jos Buttler, and they clipped 110 runs off 133 balls in a largely controlled partnership that endured into the 45th over and took England to within 46 runs of victory.
It ended when Buttler hammered Ferguson to deep cover, where substitute Tim Southee held a fine sliding catch. Buttler’s 60 came off 60 balls and included six fours.
That started a slide of six wickets for 45 runs, but Stokes survived for an undefeated 84 off 98 balls with five fours and two sixes.
England were 220/7 with Stokes 63 not out and in the 49th over when he smashed Jimmy Neesham to the midwicket boundary — where Trent Boult fell over the boundary and turned a catch into a six.
England needed 15 off the 50th over, and Stokes lofted Boult for six over midwicket.
That narrowed the equation to nine off three — clearly in the Kiwis’ favour.
Stokes smacked Boult to midwicket along the ground, and Martin Guptill’s throw hit Stokes as he dived to make his ground.
From there, it scooted over the boundary to earn six runs off one delivery.
That meant England needed three runs off two balls, but only two were added as Adil Rashid and Mark Wood were run out in the process.
That tied the scores, prompting the super over.
Stokes and Buttler returned to club 15 runs off Boult, each of them hitting a four.
Neesham and Guptill came out to face Archer, and Neesham lifted a massive six over midwicket off the second ball.
Two were required off the last ball, but Guptill was run out by Roy’s throw to wicketkeeper Buttler scrambling back for the second.
That tied the scores again, but for only as long as it took to tally up the boundaries.
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