(Reprinted from Jamaica Observer) In all the years since the very first such tournament in 1975, England and New Zealand had never won the ICC Cricket (One Day International) World Cup.
Three times previous to yesterday England had reached the final only to lose.
New Zealand — beaten by Australia in the 2015 final — has been among the most consistent teams at ODI cricket World Cup tournaments; reaching the semi finals eight times out of 12.
It’s appropriate, then, that yesterday’s final between the two would end up as the most thrilling in the history of World Cup cricket, and arguably the most extraordinary game in all of One-Day International (ODI) history.
As it turned out, England, with the help of considerable good fortune, won the trophy on the basis of a tie-break, super over.
For those who weren’t paying attention, New Zealand first made 241 for eight wickets in their 50 overs, only for England to tie the game with 241 in 50 overs.
The tie necessitated an additional over, the super over, in order to decide a winner.
England made 15 in their six-ball over, only for New Zealand to also make 15 resulting in the game being decided in the Englishmen’s favour on boundary count.
Excitement apart, perhaps the most noticeable aspect of this final was the obviously high level of mental and physical preparedness.
Top-level physical fitness, meticulous planning, and mental strength in aid of proper execution were all to the fore in a game which ended in defeat for New Zealand only because there had to be a winner.
Indeed, the New Zealanders will feel, justifiably, that they lost because a throw to their wicketkeeper hit the sliding bat of England’s Mr Ben Stokes and was deflected to the boundary.
New Zealand’s national cricket teams have always had a reputation for careful planning and preparation.
England, less so.
But, after a disastrous World Cup tournament in 2015, England, led by their strong-willed captain, Mr Eoin Morgan — a native of the Republic of Ireland who played for that country before joining the English — transformed his adopted country’s approach.
Backed by a large backroom staff and plentiful resources, England focused on aggressive, no holds barred, but efficient cricket, and set about correcting weaknesses and building on strengths.
In the quest for success on home soil, they even sacrificed principle. Recognising that the former Barbados and West Indies Under-19 fast bowler Mr Joffra Archer would strengthen their team, England cut their residential eligibility requirement from seven years to three in order to have him for the World Cup.
The move paid off. Mr Archer was England’s most successful bowler at the tournament and was the man called on for the super over at crunch time yesterday.
How can the West Indies cricket team, which performed so poorly at this World Cup despite an abundance of raw talent, benefit from England’s triumph?
First and last, it seems to us, the lesson must be taken to heart that hard work, meticulous planning and preparation, as well as efficient execution are mandatory if success is to be achieved.
That project should begin immediately with a view to the next ICC Cricket (ODI) World Cup in four years’ time.