There are many ways we, as humans, attempt to distract ourselves from the fact that death is an inevitability. On one end of the spectrum is having children, an attempt to create a continuity that is undeniably meaningful. For the most part, though, we distract ourselves with things like films, books and music, fleeting hits of joy that might give us a sense of meaning in a largely godless 21st Century.
To some, sport is the most frivolous of these and, also to some, cricket is the most frivolous of the sports. Despite this, large swathes of the population become invested, to an almost absurd degree, in a group of people taking part in organised games played out in large stadiums.
On Sunday, England won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in their history. The match, which took place at Lord’s, the game’s spiritual home, might well have been the greatest One Day International in history and could stake a claim to being one of the most thrilling finals sport has ever produced.
New Zealand batted first and made 241 runs from their 50 overs. England would have fancied getting 242 in front of their own fans but, with two overs remaining, the game seemed to be out of reach with the hosts needing 24 runs.
In what we assumed was the penultimate over, Trent Boult took a great catch on the boundary before stepping on the rope. The New Zealand players immediately signalled for six, such was the respect between the sides. Somehow, this wasn’t the most bizarre Ben Stokes moment of the latter stages.
In the final over, having hit a six the previous ball, Stokes ran two and, on sliding home for the second, the ball hit his bat and raced away to the boundary. It was the unlikeliest of sixes and Stokes, born in Christchurch, looked mortified and apologetic. Rules are rules, though, and the runs counted even if the incident was almost without precedent. Amazing that things can still happen that you’ve not seen before after a lifetime of watching sport.
With nine wickets down and two to win, Stokes picked up a single and the scores were tied. It would go to a super over in which, once again, the scores were tied (15 each) and England were crowned champions by virtue of scoring more boundaries in the match. Any children getting into cricket because of the match being on free-to-air TV just need to be aware it’ll literally never be that good again.
It was the most exhilarating and intense conclusion to a sporting occasion imaginable and sometimes one brief video can convey so much. Here’s Gwen from Twitter’s grandmother enjoying the final ball of the final over, when New Zealand attempted to run two but Jos Buttler ran Martin Guptill out and England were crowned champions at long last.
It’s a reaction of joy, relief and hysteria. Anyone who was watching can relate. Sport might not really mean anything but what a way to while away the hours we have on earth.
Please enjoy this video of my grandmas reaction to England winning cricket world cup🤩 #CWC19Final https://t.co/EH1bOae9v8