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Champagne Super Over

15 July 2019 | Lloyd Hughes

Yesterday treated sports fans to one of the finest sporting spectacles you’re ever likely to witness.

Much of my day involved driving from Edinburgh to the Cotswolds, so, sadly, the necessities of travel meant I missed much of the Cricket World Cup Final between England and New Zealand.

I did, however, arrive in time to enjoy the final twenty or so overs of England’s innings.

Well, I say enjoy. Perhaps endure is more accurate.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as tense during a sporting event. Certainly, I’ve never been anywhere near as tense during a cricket match.

It was storm churning, nail biting, nerve jangling, cliché after cliché stuff.

What unfolded during those final overs and subsequent super over, was probably the best instance of limited overs cricket there’s ever been.

In fact, I take out the ‘probably’.

For cricketing sporting spectacle, it will never be beaten.

Carlos Brathwaite’s four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes’ final over was a ridiculous finish to the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup.

I didn’t expect to see anything surpass that.

Yesterday, however, was magnificent.

Cricket, unfairly, is often labelled a ‘boring’ sport. It’s a lazy pejorative reference, dished out by non-fans who can’t fathom why a single match, in test and first class cricket, can last five whole days.

Limited overs cricket is seen as more exciting, although still deemed ‘boring’ by those who don’t have an attention span that lasts longer than ninety minutes.

Boring couldn’t have been further from my mind as I shook my head in disbelief at a misjudged step back from a catch, gifting both Ben Stokes and England a lifeline and six runs. Then, a frankly preposterous freak occurrence, saw a fielded ball ricochet off Stokes’ outstretched bat as he dived for the crease for a further six.

With luck like that it felt like fate was written.

There’s been talk today about an umpiring mistake gifting England an erroneous run for the aforementioned ricochet. It should have been five runs apparently, not six. No matter for me. These things happen. A match is made up of many twists and turns, with that being just one.

Despite England lifting the trophy, the real winner yesterday, as clichéd (again) as it is, was cricket. No one watching could fail to be enthralled. With the final free-to-air on Channel 4, it had a far wider audience than usual. I’m sure any young fan watching that would’ve been hooked.

A word of warning though; you’ve witnessed the pinnacle there.

Congratulations to England’s cricketers and commiserations to the Black Caps. A superb final, and fantastic PR for the game.