Niall O’Brien: Morgan’s success should feel like a win for Ireland too

England won a World Cup, somehow. They really only tied in the final, and they probably should've lost according to the rules. But they won, so be happy.

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What an incredible final. I think it must be the best game of ODI cricket there’s ever been. Another lowish scoring thriller, and it shows again that you don’t always need the 350s or 380s to make an exciting game.

It had everything. New Zealand were brilliant in their plans and execution. They knew they’d be happy with a score around 240 or 250, and they scrambled to it despite England bowling well.

And then they really got stuck in with the ball. England were under serious pressure and making some cardinal sins with the bat. You could feel the tension all around the ground.

When you see a player like Joe Root – usually such a calm presence – charging down the wicket and missing a legside heave at Colin de Grandhomme, and then chasing a wide ball to give his wicket away, you knew that something wasn’t right with England.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 14: Ben Stokes of England hits out during the Final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England and New Zealand at Lord’s Cricket Ground on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Bet on the Ashes at Paddypower.com

Stokes’ cool head

It took a couple of experienced campaigners to rescue them.

Ben Stokes had the levelest head of all the England batsmen throughout the tournament. His final innings was the same kind of performance he put in against South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Australia. Once again, he showed how mature he is as a cricketer now.

He almost singlehandedly won it in the 50 overs.

It was an unbelievable partnership with Jos Buttler, just when England needed it. Without those two, New Zealand would’ve won comfortably.
Buttler had a quiet competition by his standards, but you knew he’d have his say at some stage because he’s such a good player. England are thankful it came on Sunday.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 14: Trent Boult of New Zealand treads on the boundary after taking a catch from Ben Stokes during the Final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England and New Zealand at Lord’s Cricket Ground on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Fortune favoured England

Of course, they needed a huge slice of luck too. Looking back at the replay of the overthrown ball, it may have even been a direct hit if Stokes’ bat hadn’t got in the way! That was another bullet throw from Guptill and could’ve run the England batsman out at a crucial moment.

Has there ever been a more important overthrow in world cricket? I doubt it.

And the big thing was it should’ve been five runs, not six. Under the laws of the game, when the fielder threw the ball, the batsmen hadn’t crossed for the second run, so it should’ve been five. That was absolutely huge in the context of the game.

A lot of people raised it on social media, and the umpires were aware of it at the time, but it was adjudicated to be six runs. I’m sure there’ll be parts of New Zealand that feel a little bit of injustice after it all.

I was on the boundary for Trent Boult stepping over too. That was a really big mistake – these days, fielders practice those catches day in and day out. New Zealand’s fielding had been so good all day too. Think of Lockie Ferguson’s catch out in the deep to dismiss Eoin Morgan, it was one of the catches of the tournament from a big fast bowler.

But if Boult couldn’t hold on and stay in bounds, he had to get rid of it. Even if it goes for two or three runs, at least it’s not six!
Instead, he stands on the rope and takes it for a maximum. And all of a sudden, England are back in the game.
It was ridiculous, but sensational drama.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 14: Kane Williamson of New Zealand walks past the World Cup trophy after defeat during the Final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between New Zealand and England at Lord’s Cricket Ground on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Not-so-super over for New Zealand

In the Super Over, and with nothing between the teams, it seemed a bit unfair for England to win on boundaries. They won’t care obviously – and nor would any other team – but for it to be decided because they’d hit a few more fours seems a bit mad.

It looks like one of those things that nobody thinks about until it happens like this and they’ll probably look at it again now.

We’d all have loved to have seen another Super Over to split the teams. We could’ve just kept playing them until we got a winner!

New Zealand missed a few tricks in the Super Over too though. It’s easy to second guess now, but in his last over or two Trent Boult bowled quite poorly. He missed his yorkers and a few went to the boundary.

I’d have gone with Lockie Ferguson. He can bowl at 155 kmph, he has a good bouncer, a slower ball, a yorker, and batsmen don’t really know what they’re getting. Boult doesn’t have the same range, so maybe Kane Williamson will regret that choice when he thinks back on it.

When they batted, they were right to go with Jimmy Neesham because of the shorter boundary on one side and the left-hand/right-hand combination, but they went for Martin Guptill too, who’s had a horrible World Cup. You’ve got to feel for him because he’s one of New Zealand’s best-ever ODI players, but he couldn’t get a run all tournament.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 15: Eoin Morgan of England parades the trophy with young fans during the England ICC World Cup Victory Celebration at The Kia Oval on July 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

Captain Morgan delivers

Eoin Morgan acknowledged that his team got the rub of the green on the day, but he deserves all the accolades going. The captain and a couple of other people at the top of English cricket have transformed this team from the laughing stock they were four years ago.

He has the respect not just of the dressing room and the English cricket public, but of the world cricket at large.

I see him now and again, and he’s a very humble person. I talked with him after the final and he was very gracious in victory. Whether it’s MBEs or OBEs or anything else that’s coming down the line for him, he deserves every bit of it. And there might be some recognition of his achievement in Ireland too because he’s come up through the Irish cricket system.

I saw his dad after the game and we had a bit of a chuckle at how mad it is that myself and himself and so many other Irish people were cheering on England and Eoin Morgan.

I’d backed England before the tournament and stuck with them through thick and thin, and I hope readers did the same!

It should feel like a win for Irish cricket too. The people involved in Eoin’s training as a youngster, all the people involved in Rush, Malahide and North County should take some credit from this too, and some of his coaches like Brían O’Rourke who has been wonderful at developing cricketers in Dublin.

Even with Eoin captaining England, everyone knows where he’s come from and Ireland gets a bit of joy from his success.

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