The dust has finally settled around the Cricket World Cup 2019 with hosts England deservedly crowned world champions but not before they played out one of the most dramatic cricket matches in the history of the sport.
There was nothing to separate England and New Zealand in the summit clash till 102 overs of the game with both teams ending up on the same score twice – in the final and in the Super Over.
Eventually it all came down to the number of boundaries hit by both teams which decided the winner as England lifted their maiden 50-over World Cup trophy at the home of cricket, the Lord’s cricket ground.
Vice-captain Jos Buttler was one of the key protagonists in that epic final in which he scored 59 runs and along with player-of-the-match Ben Stokes, guided his team to the finish line with a 110-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Buttler’s services were once again required in the Super Over as he came out to bat with Stokes with the duo scoring 15 runs. New Zealand matched that total but lost the game on boundary count, according to the new rules of the game.
Describing his emotions before the final, Buttler said there were negative thoughts creeping into his mind as he had played eight finals before the World Cup and had lost seven of them while playing for England and his domestic county side Somerset.
“I had played in eight finals before Sunday (July 14) and lost seven of them. I’d played in lots with Somerset, the Champions Trophy with England [in 2013] and when we lost the [World] T20 [final] in Kolkata [in 2016] and I knew how much it hurt watching the other team lift the trophy. I didn’t want to feel that pain and that regret again.
“What was scaring me was if we lost, I didn’t know how I’d play cricket again. This was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a World Cup final at Lord’s. It felt like destiny and I was thinking: ‘If it doesn’t happen, I will have no motivation to pick up a cricket bat for a very long time.’
“I knew all I could look after was the stuff I could look after, and I needed to get into my zone, which allows me to perform the best I can. But what happens if it goes wrong?” Buttler told The Daily Mail.
Even during the league stage there came a time when pre-tournament favourites England were on the brink of getting knocked out after they lost against Sri Lanka and Australia with Pakistan breathing down their necks.
The weight of expectations of the whole nation was on their shoulders with fans chanting “it’s coming home” all around the country even before the tournament began.
England somehow managed to scrape through the league phase and ended up grabbing the third position in the knockouts. They defeated arch-rivals Australia to book their spot in the final and the rest was history.
“Before the India game, I was struggling with coming to terms with the prospect of us getting knocked out. We’d been favourites, so highly fancied by everyone, and there was the danger that four years of playing such good cricket was going to come to nothing.
“Think about what people will say about us as a team, think about how they will call us chokers, everything else they will say. I remember seeing a comment, maybe it was the one that got Jonny Bairstow wound up, about how it would be the biggest failure because of how much had gone into this World Cup. I was struggling with the thought of that,” Buttler explained.