Week in Review
This World Cup final will make you sick
There’s all sorts of wonderful clichés about the power of sport.
Y’know, the ‘more than just a game’ clichés. The ‘bring people and nations together through an ability to inspire, thrill and enthrall’ stuff.
The higher purpose nonsense. The triumph of the human spirit over adversity BS.
Yeah, all of that is true enough, sure. But sport can also make you ill. Physically ill. Stomach-cramping, heart-palpitating, biliously, copiously unwell.
If you’ve just pulled an all-nighter watching the Cricket World Cup final and are somehow still functioning well enough to be reading this, you know what I mean.
This column may, in fact, end at any moment, consigned to be a mere part-column by illness across a keyboard.
So we better get to the point. If you did watch the Cricket World Cup final, commiserations. Go to bed immediately and hope the near-fatal levels of caffeine you’ve consumed leach from your body soon, allowing you to find whatever peace that may exist for you.
If you didn’t watch the Cricket World Cup final, and are reading this column in hope of catching up on events – don’t. Don’t read this. Don’t read anything. Don’t watch anything. Don’t talk to anyone. Because, if you are a New Zealand cricket fan, there is only one path to anything resembling contentment. You must pretend the match never happened. If you don’t, the consequences will be horrifying.
You’ll learn that the Black Caps lost on a countback of the number of boundaries hit during the match after tying a super over. You’ll learn that the Black Caps needed just three runs off the final two balls of the super over, after Jimmy Neesham blasted them to within sight of a victory they richly deserved. You’ll learn that, somehow, it fell to Martin Guptill to face the final delivery with two runs required, and that he was run-out coming back for the second, leaving New Zealand about two metres short of glory.
And it will get worse. You’ll discover that, with England requiring 15 runs from the final four balls off New Zealand’s best bowler, Ben Stokes (yes, a bloody Kiwi) will swat a delivery from Trent Boult out of the ground.
Then the worst bit will come. A harmless two that would have seen one Kiwi mitt wrap itself around the World Cup will turn into a six after a freak rebound from Stokes’ bat crosses the boundary for four undeserved, unfair and – in fairness to Stokes – unwanted overthrows.
You’ll learn that Boult then saves the day, only to cough up another 15 runs in a super over do-over. And then it will go to hell again.
If, by this point, you can take any more, you might well learn that Boult stands on the boundary marker after catching Stokes – who is a darn fine cricketer as well as a Kiwi – in the penultimate over, turning yet another ‘we’ve just won the World Cup’ moment into the origins of the greatest sporting calamity ever to befall any nation, ever.
Yeah, there will be some fine batting, bad umpiring, great bowling and ridiculously good fielding from both teams, but none of that will matter. Because you’ll just feel sick.
You’ll feel like confronting a cricketing all-nighter with a flagon of stout, cheeseboard, 3.30am fry-up, bag of party mix lollies, two litres of coffee, an out-sized can of Red Bull and your lucky half jar of leftover pickled onions was a terrible mistake.
But it wasn’t a mistake. The plan was perfect. The plan worked. You only missed the first five balls of Colin de Grandhomme’s brilliant bowling spell, being awakened from the briefest of nod-offs by a dropped caught-and-bowled chance.
You did everything right. The Black Caps did everything right. They were superheroes. They had the World Cup in their hands three freaking times. Fate can’t be this unkind.
Why won’t these heart palpitations go away? And what’s that funny taste in the back of my throat?