England beat New Zealand in a humdinger of a game to lift the 2019 ICC World Cup. After restricting New Zealand to 241, England got off to a wobbly start losing Jason Roy early. Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root steadied the ship but the growing required run rate put pressure on the English batsmen who lost four wickets before 100 runs.
However, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler put up a century stand to get England close to the target. In a frantic finish, the hosts managed to tie the score to force the final into a Super Over.
Batting first, England made 15 runs with Stokes and Buttler doing the job for the hosts. In reply, New Zealand got off to a flier scoring nine runs off the first two balls of the Jofra Archer over. However, the bowler responded well as the Super Over was tied, thus handing England the title by virtue of more boundaries in the game.
Captain Eoin Morgan was elated after becoming the first captain to guide England to World Cup glory. Here’s the full transcript of his post-match press conference
Four years in the making, can you sum up what this means to you and to English cricket?
To me and to the team, and everybody who has been involved over the last four years, it means absolutely everything and the planning, the hard work, the dedication, the commitment and the little bit of luck today really did get us over the line.
It’s been an absolutely incredible journey to everybody around the country and around the world who has followed us and supported us, thank you so much. It’s been phenomenal.
Right from the very beginning of the tournament, all the way through, regardless of our performance, people believed because we believed and I’m very thankful for that and everybody is as well.
What do you think, what do you hope that game will have done for the legacy in terms of English cricket in this country participation?
I certainly hope participation levels go up or continue to rise. I think the nature in which the game was played today was absolutely outstanding.
I commend the Black Caps and Kane, they have been incredible, a hugely admirable team with a great spirit, the way they play, the fight they show and the fact they have done it for an extremely long time. We’re only newcomers to this and we want to be as consistent as the Kiwis come the next World Cup. But to get over the line reaffirms everything that we have done over the last four years and justifies it as well.
Do you feel quite emotional?
I did earlier, yes. I did. I still can’t quite believe, that is why I’m carrying it around as much as I can. I can’t believe we have got over the line. It has been an extraordinary day. You guys watching, like, the most incredible game of cricket with nothing between the sides. So sport sometimes is very, very fine margins. I think it was the finest of margins today and it could have gone either way, but I’m thankful it went ours.
A word on Ben Stokes. It has been a tough couple of years for him. Was he your hero today? How glad were you to see him come through that?
To come through it is extraordinary. He’s almost superhuman. He is really carried the team and our batting line-up. I know Jos and his partnership was extraordinary, but to bat with the lower order the way he did I thought was incredible.
The atmosphere, the emotion that was going through the whole game, he managed to deal with that in an extremely experienced manner. And obviously, everybody watching at home will hopefully try and be the next Ben Stokes (smiling).
A final one from me. A tough question, right now. Have you looked beyond this and the next phase of your captaincy or England’s...
I haven’t. We will let the dust settle, we’ll celebrate as hard as we can. I think it’s deserved. And then we will look at things. Four years is a long time away. I think the big question I will have to answer is will I be in the team in four years, will I be good enough? These guys are improving very quickly. Will I be able to keep up with them?
When you took the field for the super over, you had a team talk and everyone seemed to walk away smiling and laughing. Can you say what was said? And is that what you think this team is about? Even in that incredibly pressurised moment, you are still giggling.
Yeah, I encouraged them to smile, laugh, enjoy because it was such a ridiculous situation, where there was quite a lot of pressure in that particular moment of the day, never mind the rest of it and the fact it got to a super over and we had that to defend. It was a matter of trying to put smiles on the guys’ faces to release a bit of tension and the guys responded brilliantly to that.
We have worked extremely hard to get to the final and to play in a ‘super over’ at the end of an extremely draining day, you know, it takes a huge amount out of you, so it was, you know, remain calm, but make sure we enjoy this. Whether we win or lose, we have done incredible things.
I guess on a similar theme – you said yesterday you didn’t know what you were going to say to the players before you took to the field. What aim did you go for and what were you saying to Jofra in between balls when you kept going up to him?
Yes, this morning went pretty seamless, so it was a matter of reaffirming to trust the process and the fact that we are ready, emphasising that everybody is going to feel different on a day like today. It is uncharted territory for us and I think everybody individually will feel and deal with it within their own way and that is absolutely fine. You don’t need to feel one way, you can feel it whatever way you like. And then crack on.
Jofra was pretty easy, he’s an unbelievably talented player and has an unbelievable array and repertoire of balls to bowl. We were trying to keep it simple and bowl yorkers the whole time until he bowled that short ball, so it was reaffirming what he was trying to do the whole time and that he was doing a great job.
Going back to what you were saying about the legacy of this game. There would have been millions of people watching the game on terrestrial TV this afternoon. Do you hope that that dramatic nature of the game will help reconnect a lot of people in the country with the game of cricket?
I hope so. Particularly given the time it finished. Obviously, today is a big day of sport with Wimbledon and Silverstone GP going on, but with Sunday evening, people normally settle in for a bit of David Attenborough or some random film that’s on, so I hope they were tuned into the cricket (smiling).
When did you know that the super over would be settled on boundaries scored if it was a tie?
When we took the field. I asked what would happen because we sat in a meeting pre-tournament and then when it got close to the chase we started refreshing our minds whether it was going to be a super over or not and then communication from Aleem Dar up to the changing room before we batted and then reaffirmed when we went out to field.
Could there be plans for a victory parade now?
I’ve got no idea. That’s not my choice. I take the bus through London. It doesn’t bother me if there is one. Well, I’m just delighted to win.
When those runs, those overthrows came off Ben Stokes’ bat, that might have been the winning moment, the camera panned to your face and there were lots of conflicting emotions, can you explain what you were thinking at that moment?
I wasn’t quite sure what had happened to start with because, obviously, he dived and there was dust everywhere and the ball deflected through and all the Black Caps standing around going “What’s going on?” So I was trying to figure out, did he hit it, did the keeper hit it? I was trying to stay in the moment. I wasn’t celebrating. It is not something you celebrate or cheer, well I don’t because that could be us on the other side of it, and there are margins like that today that we spoke about. We spoke about that just chatting in the outfield the finest of margins today of guys ducking balls when they could have scored or different case scenarios, stealing runs where guys should have stopped them. It does emphasise that you need to be on top of your game.
Can you talk us through how calm or not calm you were in that last half-hour say when the chaos was unfolding and, in particular, as captain, I guess your most important choice, in the end, was who to send out as batsmen and to give the last over to in super over, the clarity of those decisions?
Yeah, probably the last ten minutes were worst than the 20 minutes leading in. Getting that tight and losing a game like that is sometimes the worst, but the clarity in the decisions came down to could Ben continue to bat, did he have the energy to do it? And then a matter of taking into account what end they might choose to bowl from, doing a right and left-hand combination, who was best for that.
Are you content that you might have be up there now with Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson on the Mount Rushmore?
Not at all. There’s no Mount Rushmore. Primrose Hill, that’s about it.
You spoke about the finest of margins and the finest of margins and Kane Williamson spoke about the uncontrollables and he was asked about luck, had it played a role. Do you think the luck of an Irishman got England over the line?
We had Allah with us as well. I spoke to Adil, he said Allah was definitely with us. I said we had the rub of the green (smiling). It actually epitomises our team. Quite diverse backgrounds and cultures and guys grow up in different countries and to actually find humour in the situation we were in at times was pretty cool.
You describe Ben Stokes’ as ‘superhuman’. I wonder if you could have a word on his contribution, not just today, but what happened in Calcutta three years ago? I’m guessing that was an inspiration for him. How much does it show his character that stepping up today and doing that after what happened in Kolkata?
Yes, I have said this a number of times about Ben. I think a lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Kolkata. Ben on numerous occasions has stood up individually and in a unit for us. He leads the way in training, in any team meetings we have, and he’s an incredible cricketer. And today he’s had a huge day out and obviously we are thankful for that.
Congratulations. This England side is known for its fearless brand of cricket. You played a reverse sweep and didn’t connect, then you went for another reverse sweep and Joe Root did the same. Jason Roy bashing the spinners. Today we saw some scoops from Jos Buttler. Do you think at what moment, what sort of risk did you guys take, if you had to pinpoint one gamble or risk throughout the tournament that turned things around for you guys, would you like to pinpoint them?
The biggest risk for us throughout the tournament is not playing a positive brand of cricket, that is the biggest risk for us. We did it in one game in particular against Sri Lanka and it cost us the game. So that would be our biggest risk, not sticking, staying true to what we believe works.
Congratulations on your victory. You mentioned many twists and turns that could have defined it. In the finish, it was essentially tied twice. If you put yourself in Kane Williamson’s shoes, do you think the boundary rule is a fair way to decide a World Cup Final?
If you could give me an alternative, I’d be able to, like compare them both. But I can’t think of an alternative at the moment. The rules are obviously set out a long time ago and we have no control over them. So...
There is a nice story involving George Cohen and Ben Cohen. George played for England’s men in the final. Ben in 2003. Where George told Ben there’s not many games where your life will change forever. Do you realise that your life has just changed forever? If not, how long might that take to sink in?
I’m not sure it has. I hope it hasn’t changed that much. I enjoy my life. I lead quite a quiet one, so I hope it hasn’t changed too much. I would love it to change for everybody else who wants it to change, but I enjoy my life (smiling).
Is it possible to feel empathy for the losers at this moment?
Absolutely. Definitely. I think they’ve been incredible throughout the tournament. I said it before the game at the press conference. They’ve been actually through a better tournament than we have.
The fact a trophy is sitting here is, you know – like I mentioned, we got the rub of the green today. New Zealand throughout the group stages were absolutely outstanding, very consistent and in the semi-final were very ruthless in playing against India, India are an extremely strong team. And I think the most admirable thing is the way they played their cricket, to consistently perform and compete against the very best on different stages throughout the year, they are the best, and they do it in a fashion that you’d have no qualms in turning around to your kid and saying, “Please idolise these guys, they are very admirable.” They are.
I know your head is very much in this moment. It’s a big summer for English cricket, There’s an Ashes series coming up. The guys who play both formats, how much can today spur them on and give them so much more confidence going into that Test series as well?
I think it will give them a lot of confidence. I think it gives them a bit of leeway to get some time off as well which is quite nice (smiling). I think everybody needs it.
This tournament has taken a lot out of us as a team, both mentally and physically. And I think energy levels will drop quite quickly unless the guys are looked after and I think I’m pretty sure they are going to be looked after.
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