England wins first Cricket World Cup after all-time classic

LONDON (AP) — England won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in extraordinary circumstances on Sunday, beating New Zealand by a tiebreaker of boundaries scored after the final was tied after regulation play and again following the first Super Over in the tournament's 44-year history.

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler ran out Martin Guptill off the last ball of the Super Over as the New Zealand opener scrambled back for a second run that would have earned the Black Caps their first world title.

Both teams scored 241 after the regulation 50 overs per side, with England hitting 14 off the last over — including a six made up of two runs followed by an accidental four deflected off the bat of the diving Ben Stokes — to tie New Zealand's 241-8.

That meant the World Cup's first ever Super Over, which fans watched with hands around their heads and with a rule explainer required on the big screens inside the home of cricket.

Stokes and Buttler were England's first designated batsmen and they struck 15 — including two fours — off six balls delivered by Trent Boult.

New Zealand pair Jimmy Neesham and Guptill also struck 15 off Jofra Archer but England won courtesy of a superior boundary count — 26 to 17 — across regulation play and the Super Over.

"The most ridiculous game of cricket to have ever been played," Buttler said, almost lost for words.

While New Zealand has lost two straight finals, the country that invented cricket has finally become its world champion. England had previously lost three finals, including one at Lord's.

After Buttler collected Jason Roy's throw from deep midwicket and removed the bails with his left hand, England's players erupted in celebration — but still had an agonizing wait before the decision was confirmed by the TV umpire.

"OUT," read the message on the big screen after Guptill was shown to be a yard (meter) out of the crease.

Buttler threw his glove into the sky and was soon mobbed by some teammates. Roy was carried on another's shoulders. Archer ran off on his own, sliding on his chest across the Lord's turf.

There were heroes everywhere in blue shirts, not least Buttler, whose clean catch and grab ultimately won England one of the most dramatic finishes of a match in any sport. Buttler also struck a defining 59 off 60 balls in a 110-run partnership with Stokes as England recovered from a perilous position of 86-4 chasing 242.

And what about Stokes, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, and playing almost a year after he was cleared by a court of affray following a street brawl on a night out in September 2017.

He struck a match-high 84 not out that included two extraordinary sixes in the final over of regulation play — possibly the most remarkable over in the sport's long history.

Needing 15 to win, England had two dot balls before Stokes smashed the ball high toward long-on. Boult took a catch but fell backward and trod onto the boundary cushion before he had time to release the ball. A six was awarded, and England required nine off three balls.

If that wasn't dramatic enough, check out what happened next. Stokes slogged the ball into the leg side and set off to run two. As he sprinted back to the striker's end, he dived and stretched his bat out in a desperate bid to reach the crease — only for the ball, thrown in by Guptill, to strike Stokes' bat and deflect all the way to the boundary edge in front of the Lord's pavilion.

Confusion reigned but England had just scored six runs — two ran, along with a four. Three required off two balls.

Stokes was still on strike and he pushed the ball down the ground, setting off again for a two to ensure he kept the strike. Adil Rashid was running to the non-striker's end and was easily run out, but Stokes had the strike and England had an extra run.

In an almost exact replica of that next-to-last delivery, Stokes toed a yorker out to long-on and again attempted to run two. This time it was Mark Wood ran out at the non-striker's end but again England collected the single to take the match to the Super Over — a tiebreaker some in the ground might not even have heard of.

After a 10-minute break, Stokes and Buttler came back out and hit 3, 1, 4, 1, 2 and 4 between them.

The Black Caps had to score more than England but they couldn't.

Humiliated in a group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup, England ripped up its ODI game and started all over again with a new coach, a new director of cricket and a new mindset.

Four years later, they are on top of the world.


More AP cricket: www.apnews.com/Cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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