England vs New Zealand a year on: Eoin Morgan reflects on 'incredible' 2019 Cricket World Cup Final

Will Macpherson
·4-min read
AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

In the two or three weeks after the most ridiculous World Cup final ever, at Lord’s a year ago today, the two captains, Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan spoke regularly.

“I spoke to him two or three times,” says Morgan. “Just to talk about the game, to try and understand it a bit more, the context of it.”

That followed “20 minutes, maybe half an hour” discussing it in the away dressing room in the Lord’s Pavilion over a beer deep into the evening of the game itself. Here were two of cricket’s foremost minds - one elated, the other shattered - struggling to come to terms with what they had been involved in.

Twelve months on, Morgan can finally enjoy watching it. He has watched the game back three times while getting grips with life as a father during lockdown. Many of his team and the coaching staff have done the same.

“That’s allowed me time to sit back and actually enjoy it for the first time,” he said. "I suppose I haven’t had it on DVD or computer from start to finish full production, but now I have it I’ve watched it three times and it’s been an incredible day to sit back and watch.

"It’s still tense throughout the whole day every time I watch it and watching it back, the ebbs and flow of the game, is a privilege.”

To recap for those who do not remember. England won – sort of. The match was tied because England matched New Zealand’s 241. That would have been exciting enough.

England had wobbled, then were cruising, then were wobbling again in an absurd final few overs, which saw Ben Stokes caught, only for the usually brilliant Trent Boult to step on the fence; a throw from Martin Guptill deflect off Stokes’ bat and run away to the boundary; the umpires incorrectly award six runs not five for that incident; and England’s No10 and No11 both run out without facing coming back for a second run off the last two balls of the game.

It was bedlam. No one knew the rules.

A Super Over followed, and a tie in that too was enough for England because more of their 241 runs were scored in boundaries than New Zealand. It was ridiculous, and unfair. But they were the rules.

England made 15 – solid but not spectacular. Jofra Archer, who had not played an international game just three months ago, bowled it. First came a contentious wide, then two, six, two from Jimmy Neesham. England were fumbling the ball and fluffing their lines.

New Zealand needed three from two, then Neesham took a single. Guptill, who had had a torrid tournament with the bat, squirted into the legside and scrambled back for the second. Jason Roy gathered cleanly and Jos Buttler did the rest. England were home by a nose. Nobody quite understood how.

New Zealand had lost the final four years earlier, and their cricket under Brendon McCullum, Morgan’s great mate, had influenced the new England team built under Trevor Bayliss and Morgan. They had contested an unforgettable series in England in 2015 and another in New Zealand in 2018.

England had won deciders to take both 3-2. The Black Caps were an important part of England’s story, and their defeat was as cruel as they come. They took it with the ultimate dignity.

England, as chronicled in Morgan’s Men, a brilliant new book by Steve James and Nick Hoult, had been on some journey over the four years, smashing records and dominating the 50-over scene.

They brought in Archer at the eleventh hour and lost Alex Hales due to a failed drugs test. Stokes had his own major skirmish. There was never a dull moment, on or off the field. Even their tournament itself, which looked doomed after defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia, kept everyone guessing.

But nothing quite compares to that final. The result, reckons Morgan, is a bond for life. He is trying to organise an official get-together, although cricket, then coronavirus, rather got in the way.

They have not all been together since July 15 last year, when they met members of the public at the Kia Oval. The Ashes meant there was no open top bus parade or the like.

“One of the aims is to do it sooner rather than later is to have a dinner, a bit of a party where we can get friends and family and all the players and staff together,” he said.

“Logistically it’s proving to be unbelievably challenging, but it’s on the agenda to do. Given any excuse I love to celebrate, it’s an important thing to do.

“Going through the highs and the lows of that four year period, the very similar highs and lows of that campaign is something that all of us will have until the day we die, and we should try to share that with a lot of people because winning World Cups isn’t easy and doesn’t come around very often.”

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