England’s World Cup final victory has been questioned as it emerged they may have been awarded one extra run as an obscure rule was misunderstood in the final over of regular play.
The controversy surrounds a cruel moment late in the thrilling match, in which a throw at the stumps from New Zealand deflected off Ben Stokes’ bat before flying off for a boundary.
Stokes was running back to his crease to complete his second run in the final over of regular play – needing nine runs from the final three balls of Trent Boult’s over.
Cricket columnist Andrew Miller initially brought the incident into question in a column for ESPN, highlighting Law 19.8. which relates to “overthrow or wilful act of fielder”.
Rule 19.8 states: “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.”
Therefore we can confidently assume this component of the rule is irrelevant to this particular situation.
Footage from the incident clearly shows that as Kiwi fielder Martin Guptill threw the ball, Stokes and his batting partner had not yet crossed for their second run.
In that situation, only five runs should have been awarded to England after the ball hit the boundary.
Instead, umpire Kumar Dharmasena signalled six runs for the play, giving England a major boost and allowing them to draw level with New Zealand’s total after 50 overs.
From there the game went to a super over, which was also tied before England won the final on ‘boundary countback’ as they had scored more boundaries throughout the match.
Cricket fans took to social media to bring attention to the rule, and it’s potential misuse.
Kiwis give cool response
But New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said regardless of the game’s traditions, it wasn’t a time to push for a change in the rules to prohibit runs from being awarded after a batsman is hit.
“The rule has been there for a long time,” Williamson said.
“I don’t think anything like that’s happened (before) where you now question it.
“There were so many other bits and pieces to that game that were so important.”
Stokes immediately raised his hands to apologise for the incident, with the England allrounder clearly having no intention to deflect the ball.
“I wasn’t celebrating,” England captain Eoin Morgan said.
“It is not something you celebrate or cheer.”