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Thriller that went down to the wire

Opinion Piece

The Black Caps have suffered what must be one of the most agonising defeats in the history of New Zealand sport in the Cricket World Cup final, going down to England by literally inches.

If a budding novelist had submitted a book with that scenario the publisher would have returned it immediately saying the plot was too far-fetched.

The match, like the India semi- final before, swung wildly with first one team then the other looking like having put themselves in the winning position.

Then to have the whole competition hanging on one over faced by two New Zealand batsmen needing 16 runs to win created a tension that was almost unbearable.

It all hung on one delivery and a desperate attempt for two runs that was always going to be a challenge.

As in all great contests there were sub plots a many. A failed review by the Kiwis prevented a later one that would have been successful and kept Ross Taylor at the crease. Trent Boult made a great catch only to step back on to the boundary. Ben Stokes picked up a bonus four after the ball hit his bat as he dived to complete a run.

Close contests like this so often leave talking points that will go on to become part of our sporting history.

There is a cruel irony in the fact that Stokes, who played such a major part in England’s win, was actually born in Christchurch and moved to northern England at the age of 12.

One thing that has emerged from the whole drama is that New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has sealed his passage into icon status. His calm manner under pressure and intelligent leadership, matched with quiet understatement and lack of bravado, make him the perfect hero for Kiwis.

Future economics students will be able to complete their thesis on the productivity lost in just one day as bleary-eyed New Zealanders wander into the start of another week this morning . . . or take a day off to recover.

This was a classic example of the huge role sport continues to play in New Zealand life, and the never-say-die attitude of our best sports teams . . . and there are two world cups to follow before the year ends.