Vindication for Strauss

The hoarseness in his voice and regular reference to it from Ian Ward on Sky confirms that Andrew Strauss, working as a pundit on TV, was an emotional wreck throughout Sunday’s final.

So he should be. Despite resigning from his post as Director of English Cricket following the death of his wife in December, it is he who made the brave call to radicalise England’s style of play and mentality, encouraging Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss to remodel England’s ODI team after their 2015 World Cup no-show.

Four years on, his outlook is vindicated and more. England have been the best team in the world ever since, and now have the trophy to prove it. The achievement belongs to Strauss as much as everybody else.

Lady Luck favours England

It would be dishonourable, however, not to acknowledge that the hosts required some of the most freakish fortune in cricket’s history to overcome New Zealand.

Trent Boult takes boundary catches in his sleep, but conceded six by stumbling onto the rope as Ben Stokes picked him out at long-on in the penultimate over.

Then, with nine runs required from three deliveries, Stokes dived for his ground and inadvertently potted the ball to the boundary with precision Ronnie O’Sullivan would be proud of for four overthrows, and six runs overall.

Even Jason Roy was lucky not to be given out LBW off the first ball of the innings, with DRS’ 'Umpire’s Call' technicality saving him.

It really did all go England’s way. Four years of planning is finally justified by the finest margins.

Kiwi class

Among the ecstasy and euphoria of the winning moment, it was hard not to spare sympathy for a classy New Zealand side who have now lost two successive World Cup finals.

A despondent Martin Guptill summed it up as he knelt in the middle, ripped off his gloves and almost collapsed to the floor as the loss was confirmed.

It’s an overused term, but this Black Caps side are a credit to the sport, with their humility encapsulated perfectly by captain Kane Williamson, who couldn’t quite believe he was named player of the tournament – an accolade he fully deserved.

Jimmy Neesham’s overnight tweeting spree in which he congratulated England, thanked supporters and doled out some useful advice to kids is more proof of their class.

Stokes' redemption

He won’t have cared when he woke up bleary-eyed and with a sore head this morning, but Ben Stokes is the new favourite to win the 2019 Sports Personality of the Year.

Which, 12 months on from standing in the dock on a charge of affray with his professional future in the balance, is some turnaround.

In hindsight, it was inevitable that Stokes’ all-action, heroic style was going to lead to a moment like this. But maybe it says something about the way the British public choose their heroes that he had to suffer the fall first.

Strength in diversity

South Africa. New Zealand. Pakistan. Barbados. This England team have roots all over the globe.

In a time of political upheaval, with the UK about the isolate itself from much of the world, these 11 sportsmen have shown that is not the way forward.

Morgan admitted after the game that they had the luck of the Irish on their side, while Adil Rashid told him that Allah was with them too.

Whoever or whatever was looking over England on Sunday, this team have united the country, and will likely have a far more significant and widespread effect than they realise.

One minor criticism though – let’s get rid of champagne showers.

For all that the clip is funny, both Rashid and Moeen Ali were unable to celebrate with the rest of the team when the alcohol came out. Non-alcoholic fizzy next time please, chaps.

People still like cricket

The clips doing the rounds of men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds celebrating England’s victory like a last-minute winner are a timely reminder of what a good and popular game cricket is.

Sky’s decision to share the coverage with Channel 4 could not have worked better. Not only did it ensure that as many people – around eight million – as wanted to could watch Sunday’s final, but it should see interest (and subscriptions) increase ahead of next month’s Ashes and beyond.

Mind you, new fans of the game should know that it isn’t always this good.

Lord’s rocking

“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming – cricket’s coming home.”

Cricket came home at the Home of Cricket, which rocked like it has never rocked before.

Matches at Lord’s are generally restrained affairs, but the atmosphere in north-west London resembled that of Edgbaston or the Wankhede as England fans were sent into super-over delirium.

Just ask the woman below.

English negativity

It was not all sunshine and rainbows at Lord’s however, with the tense on-field proceedings leading many in the stands to write England off at various points throughout the day.

“New Zealand are the new world champions,” lamented an MCC old-timer when captain Eoin Morgan holed out to the off-side boundary.

“That’ll be that then,” he said confidently when Jofra Archer was bowled for a golden duck.

Except it wasn’t. This England side is not like those that have come before. And that classic English negativity was, for once, proved to be unfounded.

Brilliant broadcasting

Nasser Hussain and Ian Smith have led the way in the commentary box throughout the tournament, so it was both fitting and comforting that they were on air together for Sunday’s finale.

Smith is so patently soft-hearted and thoughtful that far from resenting his clear will for New Zealand to win, you were left with a pang of sympathy that his dream of calling home a Kiwi victory fell short.

His immortal words: “England have won the World Cup – by the barest of margins!” will accompany that image of Jos Buttler demolishing the stumps forever. As will his crestfallen handover to Hussain, who also expertly summarised the moment.

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