JOHANNESBURG – Forgive me. Put it down to withdrawal symptoms, but days later, I still can’t get that World Cup final out of my head.
Naturally moments from that match will keep emerging over the next few weeks, months and even years. Less than 12 hours after its conclusion there was already the news that the umpires may have given England one more run than the rules dictate following that deflection off Ben Stokes’ bat that went to the boundary.
Yesterday it emerged Stokes had asked the umpires to remove the four runs that resulted from that deflection, something the officials couldn’t do because it went against the rules of the game.
For all the excitement and controversy that match generated, the element that has stood out is New Zealand and in particular their skipper, Kane Williamson’s grace, humility and sportsmanship. It’s easy to talk about those things, quite another to live it, as the Kiwis seemed to do.
Quite a few people across various media platforms have wondered what it is about New Zealand that has seen it produce a sporting leader like Williamson and a prime minister like Jacinda Arden. One Englishman, worn down by having to endure Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Nigel Farage on a daily basis explained he’d be happy to swap the World Cup for Arden.
This outpouring of goodwill towards New Zealand got me wondering: ‘what if it had been a different team on the other side of that outcome on Sunday? Would they have handled it with such grace?’
I’d like to think Faf du Plessis would have. The South African captain is a hard and honest man and may not have been as softly spoken in his criticism of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ the result was reached Sunday, like Williamson was, but he’d have shook hands and congratulated England.
I’m not so sure an Australian or an Indian player would have done so. Australia’s recent record in how it deals with losses or when things go badly is ugly; sandpaper and swearing. And sure, in the last year, there’s been some changes, but it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than ‘elite honesty,’ and wandering around cricket fields barefoot, before anyone truly believes Australia has changed.
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, we know would not accept Sunday’s outcome graciously. Just look back at this year’s IPL; Kohli slammed the umpires for missing a no-ball in the final over of a match, Dhoni of course went storming onto the field in the final over of another game, berating the umpires for their decision-making.
In all the stories about how much luck impacted on the World Cup final, very little was said about just how lucky the ICC was, that it was New Zealand and not another team, that ended on the flipside of that result - a game they didn’t lose.
After the match, Williamson was asked whether every cricketer should try and be more of a gentleman like him. “Everybody is allowed to be themselves. That is a good thing about the world. And everybody should be a little bit different as well. Really difficult question to answer. That is probably my best answer, just be yourself and try and enjoy what you do,” Williamson said.
I’m going to disagree slightly. I think we should all be a little bit more like Kane.
The world would be a better place.@shockerhess