I began to see Lady Luck as the bad girl, sadistically minded and certainly no lover of New Zealand. Has she not been to Otago?! Could this really be happening?
Stokes was playing his own redemption song, and close to 30,000 folk at an old cricket ground in London were singing the chorus. I thought of Carlos Brathwaite and that Bristol nightclub, and decided that Lady Luck had taken a shine to Stokesy. But very few of us had seen the Super Over coming. I think we imagined a shared trophy. I don’t know, really – it was mayhem everywhere, gut-wrenching mayhem. With three needed from two balls, I suppose we thought he would just whack one into the crowd and take a bow.
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But Stokes is smarter than that. England were eight down and he knew that the risk of getting it wrong and losing his wicket would cost them the World Cup. So he drove straight, along the ground and ran for his life. He made it back, but at the non-striker’s end Rashid wasn’t in the race. Out and one run only; two needed, nine down. Again, he simply could not take the risk. Imagine: Stokes caught on the midwicket boundary and England lose by one. No way. So again he drove straight along the ground but directly towards the fielder, and again the non-striker, Mark Wood, was sacrificed. A tie! Fifty overs each and not a single run between the sides.
It was astonishing, unprecedented, lucky, smart, brilliant, unlucky, flattering, faltering, preposterous, and that was before what will now forever be known as the Champagne Super Over. Guess who sent that in a text to my musician mate sitting next to me? The manager of Oasis. He did. I promise.
You know the rest. Amidst unbearable tension, England won.
There was glory wherever you turned. Men and women, young and old, delirious. Another text, from a friend in the Grandstand: “OMG no words can possibly explain hugging, kissing and crying with my son as we won it.” And another, from an Aussie in a box in the Mound Stand: “London in summer, tennis and cricket, frantically switching the channels, matches for the ages existing in a parallel universe and never to be forgotten. Happy daze.” Then finally: “Any fingernails left?” No.