ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
The hidden clause that decided World Cup final
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson put on a brave face after watching his side go agonisingly close to holding the World Cup trophy aloft
Louis Cameron in London
15 July 2019, 09:44 AM AEST
Kane Williamson refused to blame the obscure boundary countback rule that cost New Zealand a maiden World Cup title, while his equally-gracious opposite number Eoin Morgan conceded he’s not aware of a better tiebreaker.
Both captains referred to fine margins deciding Sunday's captivating World Cup final but, in reality, there was no margin in either the match proper nor the ensuing Super Over that could separate the two teams conventionally.
England were bowled out for 241 on the final ball of their innings in reply to New Zealand's 8-241. The Kiwis then equaled the hosts' Super Over tally of 15.
Yet England hoisted the trophy courtesy of a clause buried in the ICC's 143-page 2019 tournament playing conditions that’s never before been applied in an international game.
The clause, which also applies to semi-finals, states that the team that hit the most boundaries (fours and sixes combined) during their batting innings and super over innings combined will be declared the winner. In the final England hit 26 boundaries to New Zealand's 17.
Former New Zealand allrounder Scott Styris labelled the ICC "a joke", while former Australia batsman Dean Jones also questioned the rule's fairness.
The ICC have been contacted for comment.
Nice work @ICC ... you are a joke!!!— Scott Styris (@scottbstyris) July 14, 2019
The DL system is actually based on runs and wickets lost... yet the Final result is only based on Boundaries hit? Not fair in my opinion. Must have been great to watch!— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) July 14, 2019
"I suppose you never thought you would have to ask that question and I never thought I would have to answer it," a smiling Williamson said when asked if it had been a just outcome.
"While the emotions are raw, it is pretty hard to swallow when two teams have worked really, really hard to get to this moment in time and when two attempts to separate them (are unsuccessful).
"It is what it is, really. The rules are there at the start.
"No one probably thought they would have to resort to some of that stuff. But yeah, it's very tough to swallow."
Cricket, a game whose fans often boast that games can go for five days and not get a result, has a chequered history with finding ways to separate teams in limited-overs knockout events that require a result.
In bizarre scenes at the inaugural World T20 in 2007, India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 3-0 in a "bowl out" that saw each team given five attempts to hit a set of stumps with no batter in front of them. New Zealand also beat the West Indies by the same margin in a 2006 T20 International.
Cricket's equivalent of soccer's penalty shootout didn't last long, with the ICC replacing it with the trendier Super Over the following year.
An earlier version of the tiebreaker rule that saw the team with more sixes deemed the winners was applied in a group stage game of the women's World T20 between England and Australia in 2010.
Had that rule been in effect for Sunday's final, the Black Caps would have won their first ever World Cup having smacked three sixes compared to England's two.
"If you could give me an alternative, I'd be able to compare the both. But I can't think of an alternative at the moment," said Morgan.
"The rules are obviously set out a long time ago and we have no control over them."
Williamson also declined to single out a critical deflection off Ben Stokes' bat that turned a two into six runs in the final over of the match.
With nine needed off three balls, Stokes returned for a second run and dived to make his ground, only for the return throw from the deep to skew off his bat for four overthrows.
Cricket etiquette dictates that batters don't run after a throw hits them or their bat, but an apologetic Stokes couldn't recall the boundary even if he wanted to.
"The rule has been there for a long time" Williamson continued. "You can't sort of look at that and think that perhaps that decided the match.
"There were so many other bits and pieces to that game that were so important. When it comes down to a tie, you start looking at every single delivery, don't you?
"It was a pretty tough pill to swallow that when we were looking pretty likely with Trent (Boult) bowling really, really well."
Cameras had panned to a nervous Morgan on the team’s balcony after the incident, which drew mixed emotions from the skipper.
"I wasn't quite sure what had happened to start with because he dived and there was dust everywhere and the ball deflected through and all the Black Caps standing around going 'What's going on?'," he explained.
"I was trying to figure out did he hit it? Did the keeper hit it? I was trying to stay in the moment.
"I wasn't celebrating. It is not something you celebrate or cheer. Well, I don't because that could be us on the other side of it.