2019 Cricket World Cup Final – That’s a Draw, Mate!

That’s a Draw, Mate!

Words by Greg Champion, (tune: That’s Amore)

    When the points are the same at the end of the game, that’s a draw, mate.

    When you need one point more and you’re on the same score, that’s a draw, mate.

    When the score line is tied and it’s all cut and dried, that’s a draw, mate.

    When their score matches yours and it’s all a lost cause, that’s a draw, mate.

    Bell will ring, ring-a-ding-a-ding, siren sounds, it’s too late now to score, mate.

    You can wonder what if, but it won’t make no diff, it’s a draw, mate.

    When you did not get beat, but you did not defeat, that’s a draw, mate.

    When the buzzer has gone and you’ve not lost or won, that’s a draw, mate.

 

England v New Zealand

 

241 + 15 = 241 + 15, after 50 + 1 overs.

I’m wanting to discuss the merits of that amazing cricket Final on Sunday. I saw that England won the 2019 World Cup trophy, legitimately, but did they win the match? Many obviously think they did, although the scorecard indicates that the scores for the two teams were the same. Some reports say England won the extra-time Super over, but the scores were equal there as well. That the result was more than a bit strange is shown by some of the sports betting agencies, who are repaying the bets of those who backed New Zealand to win, as it is difficult to specifically say that New Zealand actually lost.

What a day!

 

However, before I begin, I would like to note what an amazing Sunday of sport it was, especially if you were a British sports fan with a TV remote control in your hand. Sunday 14th of July was more than just the choice of cricket from Lord’s or tennis from Wimbledon. There was a sense of wildness in the air, something like that day in America when helicopters chased O J Simpson’s white Bronco down the freeway, live and direct on TV.

 

On that Friday evening, June 17, 1994: in New York, the Rangers were celebrating their first Stanley Cup hockey win in 54 years; while around at Madison Square Garden, Patrick Ewing was leading the Knicks in game 5 of the NBA Finals; golfing legend, Arnold Palmer, was playing his last round at a U.S Open at Oakmont; while in Chicago, the first match of World Cup of soccer was kicking off. All of these were simultaneously competing for TV prominence across America, until the former NFL running back and suspected wife murderer, O J Simpson, stole the nation’s attention with his live-to-air run to try and escape the LAPD.

 

Last Sunday, there were just as many top shelf options happening simultaneously for the British sports fan to wear out the buttons on his remote. Earlier in the week, Lewis Hamilton actually predicted something like this would happen. He questioned the organisers’ wisdom to cast the Silverstone F1 Grand Prix up against the Wimbledon Tennis and Cricket World Cup Finals, in a clash that was totally foreseeable. Hamilton, of course, went on to win his home GP in what was reported to have been a very entertaining race, but only the hard core motor racing fans were watching.

 

There were too many other distractions: a big prize in golf at the Scottish Open; an England team on the rise at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool; and for those who can’t drag themselves away from soccer, there were some EPL players competing at the African Cup Semi-Finals in Egypt.

 

However, not to leave you out if you are the type inclined to watch helicopters chase people through streets with a prison theme attached, you could switch it over to the Tour de France and watch Daryl Impey try and escape the peloton through the hills near Saint Étienne on Bastille Day.

 

The big ticket

 

The tennis was as dramatic as it could get. Djokovic saved two match points, sending the deciding set into more service games, and finally a tie-break, before claiming victory in the longest ever match for a Final at Wimbledon. But for Djokovic and Federer, they already had a dozen Wimbledon titles to share between them, and whoever loses could probably pick it up next year, if there was any room left in either of their trophy cabinets, as Wimbledon is a yearly event.

 

Not so a few miles away at Lords. For cricket World Cup trophies, in the cabinets of both England and New Zealand, the cupboard was still bare. The stakes were desperate. The trophy is only available every four years. This was Sunday’s big ticket, and ticket scalpers were cashing in. Though nearing the end of the day, Brendon McCullum commented that however much a punter had paid to get that ticket, he hadn’t paid enough.

 

Deciding the winner after a draw

 

The Final on Sunday was the first 50 over International of any significance ever decided by a Super over (or the only one I can think of; I’m open to being corrected.) However, it was not the first to be decided on a countback.

 

No cricket fan can ever forget the 1999 World Cup Semi-Final between South Africa and Australia at Edgbaston. Amid intense pressure, with his team nine wickets down, Lance Klusener attempted a ridiculous single off the third-last ball of the match to break the tie, leaving his partner, Alan Donald, stranded mid-pitch without his bat. Why Damien Fleming rolled the ball ‘ten-pin bowling style’ down the pitch to his wicket-keeper who was waiting to remove the bails, no one will ever know.

 

However, the total mayhem left the scores for the two teams tied at 213 each. This was in the days before anyone had heard of T20 cricket, or “Super overs”. So the match was decided on a countback. The tournament match conditions prescribed that whoever had the better record coming into the game would be declared winner, in this case Australia, by merit of a better run rate in the lead up matches.

 

Playing conditions and philosophies vary in different sports and on different occasions for how to handle a draw. For example, the Scottish Open on Sunday went to an extra hole play-off (actually taking three extra holes to decide the winner.) For American sports, like basketball, baseball, football, and hockey, it’s traditional to always have extra-time or extra-innings, even for regular round matches. But that might get pretty tiresome for low scoring soccer matches, which so regularly end in score or scoreless draws.

 

At Wimbledon, they would prefer a match to be decided on service games. But after John Isner took three days to defeat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in their final set a few years ago, followed by the same culprit, Isner, taking another match well into its seventh hour before finally losing his last set to Kevin Anderson 24-26, they thought they had better set a limit somewhere. So the limit was this year at 12-12, which is why Sunday’s Final eventually finished with the rather odd looking score line, Djokovic winning the Final set 13-12 after the tie-break.

 

So what should the rule be for a 50 over cricket Final?

 

With cricket matches being pretty high scoring, no one’s really expecting any game to finish in a tie. And teams could always share the points for the preliminary games, so it only becomes much of an issue for Semi-Finals or Final, for which you cannot just split the difference. The rule makers must have something in place to decide a drawn Final, and presumably a Super over, or an extra six balls each, would suffice. Therefore, how much thought they actually put into the rule to decide what would happen for a drawn Super over is anyone’s guess, as the odds against it happening are barely imaginable.

 

Frankly, if you don’t like it, don’t worry, as it is unlikely to ever happen again in your lifetime.

 

But here are my thoughts on some of the suggestions I’ve heard:

 

1) Have another Super over.

No, I don’t think so. What if that over ends in a draw? You could have another John Isner situation (with the final set ending 70-68). If you continually have Super overs, you could run into issues of the sun setting, or bad light, etc. No, the game must be brought to a conclusion.

 

2) Previous record going into the match, such as ladder position before the Semi-Finals.

This was the rule which came into play at the 1999 World Cup. I don’t prefer this option, as it means the teams don’t start on a level playing field. I think if you reach a Semi-Final or a Final, then the slate should be wiped clean, and the game be decided on that day, face-to-face. May the better team win on the day!

 

3) Whoever has lost less wickets in the 50 overs should be declared the winner.

In this scenario, New Zealand, who only lost eight wickets rather than England’s ten, would have been the victor on Sunday. Many have suggested this, but as a cricket lover, this is the option which I prefer the least. I hate it. For it defies the essence of the game.

 

Cricket is a game of bat versus ball; bowler versus batsman. Like two boxers slugging it out, or two sharp-eyed fencers, thrust and parry. The players are continually weighing up the value of a wicket in terms of runs. For example, for every ball faced, a batsman must decide whether it’s worth the risk to attack or rather to defend his wicket; keep the ball on the ground, or risk hitting it in the air, over the field, or over the fence. Often in a game, a batsman will sacrifice his wicket for the good of the team. Weighing up runs versus wickets is what the game is about.

 

You could see a clear example of this in the Super over on Sunday, when Jofra Archer fielded the ball off his own bowling, and could have thrown at the stumps for a very possible run-out. Yet he decided it was not worth the risk, and wisely too, for even one run overthrown at that stage of the game would have been priceless.

 

I could even make a counter argument, that a team who has scored 3/250 in fifty overs, has not batted as well as a team that scored 8/250, as they have not maximised the potential of their batsman. For cricket is a team game, in which you aim to use the batting ability of your whole team to score the most runs, against the bowling and fielding of the whole of the other team. If your team doesn’t use their potential, that’s your fault.

 

Therefore, at the end of the innings, the runs collected justifies the wickets lost. Runs are all that should count.

 

4) Just call it a draw.

Why not? I don’t mind this idea. At the end of game on Sunday, there was a sense that both teams had done enough to earn a victory. The trophy would have been an honour to both teams.

 

Anyone who says a trophy cannot be shared must come up with a good solution for the situation where it rains for three days straight, and the Final can’t be played.

 

However, anyone who says a trophy can be shared must also be happy that this is a good idea either with or without a Super over. For Super overs are not a part of cricket tradition, as normally fifty overs is plenty of cricketing time to decide who is the better team.

 

5) Whoever has hit more boundaries in their 50 overs wins. Keep the rule that was used on Sunday.

So this rule would only be used on fairly rare occasions. It says that an over when you score four runs from one boundary, is better than an over where you score four runs from four singles. I think there is a logic to this, in that it encourages exciting and attacking play.

 

It’s similar to the rule that was brought into soccer many years ago, which gave three points for a win (rather than it previously being two), compared to one for a draw, and zero for a loss. It meant that over the course of three matches, one win, one loss, and one draw (total, four points) is better than three draws (three points). This encouraged teams to attack and go for the win rather than sit back for a draw.

 

So I believe this last option has merit, and the rule makers could actually be congratulated for having thought it through this far, as the rule does encourage attacking play, which is what everyone wants in 50 over cricket.

 

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About Michael Viljoen

Michael immigrated to Australia as a boy in the late '60s. His dad, having never seen a game of Australian Rules previously, stepped off the boat Thursday, found a job Friday, and Saturday was terrace side watching the VFL, Geelong v Carlton.* He liked it so much he went back to the VFA on Sunday, Williamstown v Camberwell. (*revision required)

Comments

  1. Some good thinking here, Michael. It certainly was a sports weekend for the ages.

    I think my first two deciding criteria after 50 overs would be, in order, wickets lost, as per your third option, then, if necessary, previous record going into the finals – a rule used across a number of sports and indicative of a team’s performance throughout the tournament rather than just on the day.

    I wouldn’t be against an extra, say, five overs per side with total runs winning and number of wickets lost as the finer determinant.

    Nor am I against simply calling it a draw after either 50 overs or if scores are still tied after however many super overs. The other day called for there to be no loser. Are we so obsessed with ‘winning’ that we can’t acknowledge that sometimes things just can’t be split?

  2. Michael and Ian, in years gone by, should there have been a draw between 2 or more players for the Brownlow or Magery Medals, the winner was decided on a count back of the player with the most first preference votes.

    However, in these more enlightened times all players are declared joint winners and previous players who were not previously recognized due to that count back system are now joint winners. In my humble opinion the 2019 cricket World Cup should be in the same category IE England and New Zealand joint winners.

  3. PS This should only apply after the teams can’t be split after a super over although I do think wickets lost could play a part.

  4. Interesting article Michael. I don’t agree with the winner decided after a draw and super over by the most boundaries hit during the innings. This rule would not promote more attacking play because the chances of it being applied are a gazillion to 1 so no team would be contemplating it during their innings. I don’t see how hitting 2 fours is any more entertaining than a six and a double where a run-out is possible. As Ian suggested, perhaps a few extra super overs each would almost eliminate the chance of the scores still being the same compared to the one super over. If still level perhaps a penalty shoot out where each team nominates a fielder who stands at square leg and has to hit the stumps at the batsman’s end and then, if necessary, at the bowler’s end to break a tie lol.

  5. Here we go again. Many of my friends say both teams knew the rules (or should have) so what’s the problem?. But then I remembered one of my old bosses in the bank who often said, “Rules were made for fools”.

    Should anyone then have the audacity to quote this saying back to him for some reason, his answer would invariably be, “Yes, people like you”.

  6. Geoff Roberts says

    I enjoyed your thoughts here. My initial read that England had won after scoring the same number of runs both in their innings and the super over did not make any sense to me and smacked of “Taking our bat and ball and going home”, by the home team. If the rules allowed for a count back to decide the winner, there was really no point playing the super over at all. I take your point about 4’s and 6’s providing exciting cricket but disagree that a single four in an over is a more aggressive approach than four singles. The comparison is that the batsman has taken on the fielding team on four occasions rather than one during the over and judging of singles and the abilities of the fielding team are also important cricket skills.

  7. Without being seen as a pedant the game can’t be a draw. A draw is a first class match that finishes with out a result. This match was a tie where it finished with scores level. In cricket a draw and a tie are very different things.

    I find the result very upsetting as New Zealand didn’t deserve to lose. With the ongoing changes in cricket, of course the rules change: regularly. For many moons if scores were level at the end of a limited over match the side who’d lost the most wickets was deemed the loser. In this context England lost.However that rule is no more.

    It’d be nice to record the match as a tie, more befitting of the efforts of the players, not as a victory to England. Any how this won’t happen so England will remain the victors. However being an ODI match it wasn’t/can’t be a draw.

    Glen!

  8. Michael Viljoen says

    Glen,
    You are correct that the appropriate term for cricket for both teams ending with the same score is a tie.

    I think most record keepers will record the result of this years cricket Final as a tie. For example, you can see here on the ESPN Cricinfo website, the scorecard for the match says “match tied”.

    https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/game/1144530/england-vs-new-zealand-final-icc-cricket-world-cup-2019

  9. Michael Viljoen says

    Fischo,
    I think you’re trying to have it both ways. You’re wanting to have your cake and eat it.

    I’m comfortable with your thought of having joint winners, but if there must only be one winner, then in formulating a rule for separating two teams when a game finishes in a tie, if wickets are taken into account, then there’s no need for a Super over.

  10. Michael Viljoen says

    Geoff,
    I think your quote sums up the whole thing brilliantly,
    “If the rules allowed for a count back to decide the winner, there was really no point playing the super over at all. ”

    What you’ve just said shows that this “Super over” idea is really a gimmicky thing that has been adopted by us after taking on too much American philosophy in our sports.

    However, on your other point about comparing a boundary (4 runs) to four singles (also four runs), and which should be considered better? I think that the theory is that a boundary is an estimation, given the finite limits of the field. And it’s automatic. But given the heavenly idea of an unlimited field, if the batsman hits the ball really hard, and outside the constraints of a boundary rope, then he could possibly run 5, or 6, or 7, or 8, or 9, or whatever.

    Therefore, a boundary is worthy of being given special value.

    Similarly, there was an interesting betting agency controversy, where a punter bet on how many sixes there would be in the match. If Stokes’ overthrown six in the last over was counted, then the punter would have won the bet, but the agency wouldn’t pay out the bet, as Stokes did not clear the boundary on the full.

  11. How’s this for an idea. If we can’t have joint winners make the winner the team that has scored the most runs from the bat IE subtract all sundries from the sides, in particular leg byes. However, i still think joint winners should be the way to go in the circumstances that prevailed.

  12. And yes Michael, my preference is most definitely to have it both ways IE BOTH NZ and England declared joint winners. The other options, although interesting, are just a load of rubbish (in my humble opinion anyway).

  13. Michael Viljoen says

    Fischo,
    From what you say, and from what I’ve heard a lot of people saying this week, is that sometimes a draw or a tie is a fitting result, and a cup/trophy being shared would be appropriate in some circumstances. So, a comparable situation would be the AFL Grand Final.

    Currently the League is saying that they don’t want to replay drawn Grand Finals (the old rule). It’s too inconvenient for everyone. The new rule, though never yet tested or experienced, is ten minutes extra time at the end of the game.

    So what happens if the ten minutes extra finishes in a draw? Could we have repeated periods of 10 minutes extra time added until the players drop dead? Or is one period of ten minutes of extra time added sufficient, and then after that, we declare a SHARED PREMIERSHIP?

    If we went to a count back, giving the cup to whoever finished higher on the ladder for home-and-away games, I don’t know if people would find that acceptable.

  14. Michael, the fairest way would be to scrap finals altogether and then the MINOR PREMIER becomes Premier. I can really see the League doing that and forfeiting the extra generated.

    Perhaps the best way to declare the AFL premier would be to copy Australian baseball – the grand final there is the best of 3. (over in Yankee land it’s the best of 7 – hardly practical for footy)

  15. Daryl Schramm says

    Interesting discussion. Each world cup is different. This one as a complete round robin was set up for either the higher qualifier needing to be beaten or the earlier contest needing to be reversed. Each scenario, in this case, meant NZ had to win, and would have known well before match start. A tie or no result in the preliminaries followed by a tie in final? Can’t be split therefore shared. Super overs belong to T20 only IMHO. The demise of one day cricket can (thankfully) wait a few more years.

  16. E.regnans says

    The best idea I saw on this fiasco, was this.
    (and I can’t remember where I saw it).

    Imagine if Eoin Morgan had invited Kane Williamson to ALSO receive the cup.
    If the England captain had have recognised the moment.
    Recognised the hollowness of the method. And declared it a tie.

    That would have been something.

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