Should England give the World Cup to New Zealand?

Australian umpire claims scoring error in the dramatic final over could have changed the outcome

Ben Stokes, England cricket world cup
Ben Stokes dives to make his ground in the Cricket World Cup final
(Image credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

England’s director of cricket Ashley Giles has brushed off claims that England’s stunning World Cup victory came from an umpiring error.

As BBC Sport reports, the hosts were awarded six vital runs in the 50th over when a throw from a Kiwi fielder hit the bat of Ben Stokes as he dived to complete a second run and went for four.

The freak incident was crucial as England tied with New Zealand to send the game into a super over but TV replays show that Stokes and Adil Rashid hadn’t crossed when fielder Martin Guptill released the ball. So should England have been awarded five runs rather than six?

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Retired Australian umpire Simon Taufel, voted the International Cricket Council’s Umpire of the Year on five occasions , drew the world’s attention to the error, citing law 19.8 regarding an “overthrow or wilful act of fielder”. He told the Australian media the six runs awarded to England was a “clear mistake”. He added: “There was a judgment error on the overthrow. The act of the overthrow starts when the fielder releases the ball. It becomes an overthrow from the instant of the throw.”

The disgruntled New Zealand Herald weighed in on the controversy, writing: “To add to New Zealand’s sense of injustice, had this been spotted at the time, Rashid would have been on strike for the penultimate delivery rather than Stokes, further diminishing the chances of England completing a famous victory.”

Giles, however, gave the idea that the Kiwis had been robbed of the title short shrift. “Not really,” he replied, when asked if he understood the uproar. “You could argue the last ball that [Trent] Boult bowled was a full toss on leg stump and if Stokes’ hadn’t just been looking for two he probably would’ve banged it out of the ground anyway. We are world champions; we have got the trophy and we intend to keep it.”

While the Kiwi press may be whining about the World Cup defeat, their players have acted with more dignity. “It doesn’t mean anything to us now,” Henry Nicholls told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s the game, things happen. Sometimes you get the rub of the green. England had a great tournament, they have been the dominant team for the last four years so they deserve to win it.”

Coach Gary Stead echoed those sentiments, saying: “The umpires are there to rule and they’re human as well, like players, sometimes errors are made,” rationalised Stead. “That’s just the human nature of sport, and why we care so much about it as well.”

And of course there is always more than one side to a story. Some argue that the ‘act’ of the overthrows actually began when the ball struck Stokes’ bat, deflecting the ball to the boundary, not when the throw was released.

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