Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow were unanimous in their verdict on England’s once-in-lifetime World Cup win, with both men convinced they have just played in the greatest game of all time.
That they would wake up on Monday morning as world champions was in itself no major surprise – it has been the driving ambition of the England and Wales Cricket Board for the past four years and they had home-soil advantage and world number-one status in their favour.
But the circumstances of their victory over New Zealand have instantly entered British sporting folklore. Not only was the World Cup final tied for the first time in its 44-year history, but England got there courtesy of two moments of outrageous good fortune.
First Trent Boult stepped on a boundary marker after catching man-of-the-match Ben Stokes, then Martin Guptill’s shy at the stumps canoned off the all-rounder’s bat as he dived earning England a game-changing batch of overthrows.
The first ever ODI super over followed, with the scores tied again after six balls apiece from Boult and Jofra Archer, leaving England to scoop the trophy courtesy of boundaries scored.
Neither Root nor Bairstow are untried ingenues but as they toasted their career-defining achievements in a victory party at The Oval, neither could believe what they had been part of.
“It was ridiculous, genuinely ridiculous. Wow,” said Bairstow.
“There’s never going to be a game like that ever in history ever again.”
Root, England’s top run-scorer in the tournament with 556, concurred.
“What a day yesterday was. Probably the best game of all time,” he said, taking a break from selfie duty with the massed hundreds of schoolchildren who headed to the stadium to watch their heroes parade their newly-acquired silverware.
“World champions…it sounds pretty special, doesn’t it? If you’d said it four years ago, I might not have believed you. But what a journey, what a tournament. If we’re honest, some things are just written in the stars.”
Bairstow had heard people say the same, sentiments that brought his father David to mind.
The former England international killed himself in 1998 but remains a lifelong inspiration to his son.
“People said it was written in the stars…Dad was there, Grandpa was there. It was awesome. I’ve been through quite a bit and I’m able to relate to different things along the way. Of course, there are things that are tougher to go through than that (match) but the intensity of it was huge.”
Root and Bairstow were joined by a third Yorkshireman on the winners’ podium, leg-spinner Adil Rashid.
“I was sharing fish and chips with Rash when I was 15, rooming together in Liverpool,” recalled Bairstow.
“Now we’ve just won a World Cup together.”
The stakes will continue to be high over the coming weeks, with a Test against Ireland just around the corner followed by the intensity of an Ashes series.
That contest is likely to enjoy an even greater profile than usual following England’s World Cup triumph, and the 8.3million people who witnessed it on television thanks to Sky agreeing to a free-to-air broadcast deal with Channel 4.
“As a team we talk of leaving the game in a better place when we finish and taking it forward all the time,” said Root.
“I feel like the way we’ve gone about things has hopefully done that and given an opportunity for the next generation to see what we’ve achieved and want to go on and emulate it.
“I was 14 years old when I watched that 2005 Ashes series and it was hugely inspiring for me. Hopefully we can do something similar for the next generation now.
“The Ashes will be massive, especially on the back of this. It will make it even bigger.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Ben Stokes has barely had time to process his role in England’s unforgettable World Cup win but has already set his sights on sealing a historic double by reclaiming the Ashes.
Stokes turned in a man-of-the-match performance as England emerged triumphant from a Lord’s final that he believes will go down as “the best ever” in the sport.
Without his epic 84 not out, an innings punctuated by several moments of raw brilliance, good fortune and draining tension New Zealand would be flying home with the trophy, but his work was still not done.
Having tied the scores at 241 he reemerged to bat in an unprecedented super over, battling fatigue to help play his part as the teams once again reached a stalemate – each scoring 15 from six balls before England were crowned champions on boundaries scored.
Speaking at a celebratory reception at The Oval, attended by hundreds of fans and schoolchildren who took up the invitation to toast their heroes, a sleep-deprived Stokes said: “I’ve woken up in better conditions, but it’s an incredible feeling.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet but coming down here and seeing what a small portion of the support we’ve had feels about it…the kids, the adults…these feelings are something we will hold on to forever.
“We would have been devastated if we hadn’t managed to lift that trophy but looking back over that game I think it will go down in the history books as the best ever, with all the drama of a World Cup final. It’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
In any other circumstances Stokes and his team-mates might he settling down for some well-earned down time, having stretched themselves to the limit over the past six weeks.
And while several of the triumphant squad are likely to be excused next week’s Lord’s Test against Ireland, the small matter of a five Test series against Australia is just around the corner.
The battle to regain the urn begins at Edgbaston on August 1 and Stokes has promised there will be no World Cup hangover.
“We may be world champions but also want to be Ashes winners as well,” he said.
“Everyone here deserves to feel like a champion because we’ve just won it, but when it comes to the Ashes it’s going to be heads on again because it has to be.
“Whether you’re winning or losing games, you’ve just got to wipe the slate clean.”
"England have won the World Cup by the barest of all margins. Absolute ecstasy for England, agony for New Zealand!"— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) July 14, 2019
The final moments of #CWC19 haven't quite sunk in yet 😅
Relive them once again ⬇️#CWC19Final | #WeAreEngland pic.twitter.com/y1zWIlEg4g
Stokes has not had it easy in the last few years, clubbed for four successive sixes as England slipped to a heart-breaking final-over defeat in the 2016 World T20 and missing the previous Ashes series Down Under following the late-night incident that eventually led to his acquittal on a charge of affray.
He has done his best to leave those travails behind him and to see the 28-year-old mobbed by star-struck children as he signed autographs and posed for pictures on the outfield was to witness a man at ease with his role-model status.
“That’s all gone and forgotten. It’s about now and what goes on in the future. I’m just going to enjoy this moment,” he said.
“In sport, and cricket in particular, you ebb and flow with your emotions, but we’re going to enjoy the next two days because we deserve it. I’ve got this medal around my neck so it’s all good.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
The thrilling final throes of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 were all about emotions – each as raw as you’ll find.
We watched Jofra Archer visibly sag under the weight of unimaginable pressure, Jos Buttler gleefully uproot the stumps and man of the moment Ben Stokes immediately console a broken Martin Guptill.
These scenes will be seared into the memories of the nation and so England have etched their names into the history books.
Eoin Morgan’s men have won hearts and broken records on the way: here are your 2019 Cricket World Cup heroes in numbers.
The climax to the Lord’s final was a white-knuckle ride and not even England could avoid the odd slip-up.
In the final over of their run-chase, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood became the first pair of team-mates to both be run out without facing a ball in the same World Cup innings.
In the penultimate over of their bowling effort, which also featured a wicket and a crucial boundary from Matt Henry, Chris Woakes bowled a no-ball.
It seemed nothing earth-shattering at the time, but it was the first no-ball England bowled in the entire tournament.
Only one team has played a World Cup without bowling a no-ball and that was the Netherlands in 1996.
Archer hits the target
Archer was a revelation for the hosts – his tournament haul of 20 wickets was the highest-ever for an England player at a World Cup, surpassing Ian Botham’s 16 when they last reached the final in 1992.
The 24-year-old formed a fearsome pace bowling partnership with Mark Wood and no pair were faster across the seven weeks.
Wood’s 95.7mph delivery to Henry Nicholls in the final matched Archer’s feats from earlier in the competition, and Australia’s Mitchell Starc also reached that speed.
Consistency was one of the keys to Archer’s success and in taking at least three wickets against West Indies, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Australia he became just the fifth bowler to do so in four successive World Cup matches.
The other four bowlers to have achieved the feat are Chaminda Vaas and Brett Lee in 2003, Glenn McGrath in 2007 and Shahid Afridi across the 2007 and 2011 editions.
When England fielded well at the 2019 Cricket World Cup, they played well as a team and tended to win.
They were found wanting as a collective in the defeat to Pakistan at Trent Bridge, runs leaked in the field seeing their batting line-up set an unwanted run-chase record.
Before that game, only two teams had scored 300 batting second in a World Cup match and ended up losing – both in 2015, Zimbabwe in defeat to Ireland and Sri Lanka when they lost to Australia.
England scored 334-9 and still fell short, the highest-ever losing score in a run-chase at the tournament.
But their fielding was largely excellent, and Joe Root set a new record for the most catches in the field in any World Cup with 13 from 11 games played, passing Ricky Ponting’s 11 grabs back in 2003.
And James Vince set a new record for the most catches by a substitute fielder at a World Cup with five. Ravindra Jadeja took four, surpassing Kenya’s Joe Angara and Suresh Raina with three.
England’s power with the bat was a distinctive feature of their triumph and they set a record for sixes hit at a World Cup, clearing the rope 76 times and surpassing West Indies’ 68 in 2015.
Joe Root’s aggregate 556 was England’s best-ever in a single edition of the World Cup and county colleague Jonny Bairstow ended the competition with 532, a new record for a player at his first World Cup.
Indeed, Babar Azam’s 474 runs also went past the previous record of 461 set by Rahul Dravid back in 1999.
Root opened the batting in the win over West Indies – his adaptability is taken for granted, but it was the first time he’d performed the role in his 128 ODI appearances.
Only four other batsmen have batted more times before opening in the format; namely Mahela Jayawardene (269), Michael Bevan (178), Kapil Dev (166) and Carl Hooper (131).
Best of both worlds
England’s title challenge was buttressed by the ability of several of their number to contribute with bat, ball and in the field, and they did so to history-making proportions.
With 3-71 and four catches against Pakistan, Chris Woakes became just the third man in ODI history to take three wickets and pouch four catches in the same match, after Hooper and New Zealand’s Chris Harris.
In addition to opening against West Indies and scoring a century, Root also took two wickets and two catches – just the second such performance in ODI history.
The first and only other was Aravinda De Silva’s inspired display to lead Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 final as he made 107 not out, took 3-42 and two catches.
Moeen Ali missed out on the final and earlier in the tournament, narrowly missed out on a peculiar place in cricket history.
He scored 31 runs on his 32nd birthday against Afghanistan, nearly matching Andrew Strauss’ 34 on his 34th birthday against Ireland in the 2011 World Cup.