An Irishman, a ginger Geordie and a West Indian walked into a bar...everyone bought them a drink. And another. And another. For Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and the rest of the England cricket team this will be the case for a long time to come after they defeated New Zealand in the most nail-bitingly tense World Cup final at Lord’s. (Although the following morning they may be more appreciative of paracetamol, coffee and rehydration sachets after their celebrations!)
Yes, this report could analyse one of the most incredible of sporting spectacles, the like of which is unlikely to ever be seen again. Yes it could reflect on run outs, overthrows, ties and super overs, but these are something that words themselves cannot describe. They are a visual feast that no dictionary could do justice. There will be numerous reports describing the highs and lows of the match to go down in history.
But this final was about more than the match; it was about the game. The unity, diversity community, and sportsmanship that cricket creates was displayed on free-to-air television for the first time in 14 years in the United Kingdom, and boy did it live up to expectation.
When asked if they had the luck of the Irish with them, England captain Eoin Morgan chuckled: “Well, Adil said we had Allah on our side too, so we had that as well. It’s the rub of the green. It’s also reflective of our team; we’re a diverse side and we brought that together today.”
That’s what sport does; it unites people from all walks of life, and the ICC Cricket World Cup was a celebration of all that sport encompasses. In a country currently experiencing division and uncertainty, the national team demonstrated togetherness and diversity that politicians can only dream of. The England team is captained by a man born in Dublin, coached by a man born in Australia, and put their faith in a 24-year-old born in Barbados to bowl the history-defining super over. It contains two red heads, Yorkshire-Lancashire rivals working together, and two of its players had to stay clear of champagne showers due to their religion. But none of this matters when all were working together to achieve a common goal. If that doesn’t define diversity, nothing will.
Celebration almost doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe the palpable feeling of elation and pride that surged through the home of cricket as Jos Buttler broke the stumps. The six week long demonstration of international cooperation came to a fitting end where nothing but boundaries could separate two teams from opposite ends of the globe.
The image of Chris Woakes consoling a devastated Martin Guptill and Jimmy Neesham is somewhat reflective of Freddie Flintoff comforting Brett Lee at Edgbaston in 2005 and will no doubt be a defining picture of sportsmanship shown to children all over the country. These are the moments children should acknowledge and appreciate. Yes, the big hitting is impressive and the wicket taking mesmerising, but it is the sportsmanship that is truly magical.
Is there anywhere else in the world you would find a female Prime Minister, two people dressed as a hedge, a cake with a Royal charter and social acceptance of drinking beer at 8:30 in the morning? Here’s a clue...no. But it seemed completely natural on the lush green grass at the Home of Cricket.
And, on the 14th July, that’s just where cricket came.
A home for everyone.
By Georgie Heath