“Some rules in cricket definitely needs a serious look in.” – tweeted Indian batsman Rohit Sharma after the end of the ICC World Cup 2019 final between England and New Zealand. The game ended in a soul-crushing result for New Zealand as even after tying the match and the Super Over, they were robbed off a World Cup win courtesy a strange boundary count rule by the ICC in the event of a tied Super Over. England were awarded the match as they had more boundaries – 22 fours and two sixes – compared to New Zealand’s 16.
England were thus crowned the new champions and New Zealand had to live with the pain of losing out on a mere technicality even after reaching so close.
However, the cricketing world has been gutted with the absurd and unfair rule that robbed New Zealand off a win. Exactly why was the boundary count rule used is beyond logic. Why didn’t they prefer going for the team who had taken more wickets? New Zealand had bowled England out in the match and has lost 8 wickets while batting first. Why shouldn’t that get more credence?
In fact, once upon a time, tied ODI games have been decided with the more-wickets rule. An India v Pakistan ODI in 1987 at Hyderabad and a Pakistan-Australia ODI at Lahore in 1988 was decided by the team that had taken more wickets after the games had been tied. But instead sticking to it, the ICC kept changing the rules.
The boundary count rule in a tied Super Over has been in existence in T20 cricket for a while and an IPL game in 2014 was decided by it. However, the ICC, for some reason, thought a rule that was okay for T20 cricket would also work in ODIs, especially such a precious tournament like the World Cup. Both are different formats and work differently. To just copy paste a rule from one format to the other is unacceptable.
Clearly there was lack of foresight and none in the ICC rule-making committee had thought that the tied Super Over rule would come into play in the most important match in the World Cup. And it was because of its unfairness that a team has been deprived a chance at holding the world title.
A lot of current and former cricketers shared the same sentiment. And after the match, there was an out-pour on social media regarding the bizarre rule that cost New Zealand the final.
“Don’t understand how the game of such proportions, the #CWC19Final, is finally decided on who scored the most boundaries. A ridiculous rule @ICC. Should have been a tie. I want to congratulate both @BLACKCAPS & @englandcricket on playing out a nail biting Final. Both winners imo.” – tweeted former Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir.
Countless cricket fans all over the world have expressed the same. This is not to say that England didn’t deserve to win. They were the best team in the tournament, undoubtedly. However, in the final match both teams were equally good right till the very last ball. And perhaps, in the event of a tied Super Over in a final, the trophy should have been shared. That would certainly have made much more sense and wouldn’t have caused so much bitterness and anger in cricket fans. Most importantly, that one rule marred what was one of the greatest ODI matches of all time and certainly the best World Cup final we have ever seen.
Is it time for the ICC to reconsider its rule books? It certainly appears so. It is their job to ensure that the rules they make do not become unjust for one team and benefits the other. Here’s hoping that some sense prevails and such controversial laws are revisited and changed.