Saturday 4 July 2020

Guest Review: England’s World Cup The Full Story of the 2019 Tournament Edited by Richard Whitehead

The Cricket World Cup in 2019 was the first to be held in England for 20 years and expectations were high. It did not disappoint. Over six weeks and 48 matches it showcased the best that the one-day game has to offer, with compelling individual performances and spellbinding matches – all culminating in England’s unforgettable victory over New Zealand in the final. The Times England’s World Cup gives you a chance to relive the drama as it happened with the best of cricket writers.

Review: This is the story of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, held in England and Wales, told through a series of articles published in “The Times” newspaper and compiled and edited by Richard Whitehead. England went into the tournament as favourites to win, despite never having won before and not having appeared in the final for 27 years. The tournament was being held on home soil and England were at the top of the world rankings in the 50-over game. Held over seven weeks from the end of May until the middle of July, ten teams from five different continents took part. Initially, the teams played each other in a league format, at the end of which, the top four teams went through to the semi-finals with the winners playing in the final at Lord’s.

Despite some of the group matches being disrupted by the weather, the initial stages of the tournament produced some exciting games and a few stand-out moments. England started the tournament well but then stuttered, losing three of their group games. This meant they had to win their last two group matches to be certain of qualifying for the semi-finals. This, they accomplished, finishing third in the league table. In the semi-final, they overcame Australia to take them through to the final against New Zealand. This final has been described as the greatest game of cricket in history. After both sides had batted their allotment of 50 overs, the scores were level. This meant that, for the first time in the history of the World Cup, the match would be decided by a Super Over. Two batsmen from each team would face one over, and the team scoring the most runs in that over would win. England posted 15 runs in their allotted over. New Zealand started well, but needed two runs off the final ball to win. They ran a single but their batsman was run out a few feet short of his ground when going for the second run. This meant that, once again, the scores were level, but according to the rules of the tournament, whichever team had hit the most boundaries during their innings would be declared the winner. England had hit 26 boundaries compared to New Zealand’s 17, so England won the World Cup for the first time.

The book gives a report of all 48 matches with a summary of the scores and some statistical information. Interspersed with these results are profiles of some of the England players, and there is a more comprehensive statistical section at the end of the book. A number of black and white photographs are included, although many of these are of poor quality since they are reproduced from newspaper reports. However, there are a number of very good quality colour photographs in the middle of the book. One disappointment I had was that the report of the one game that I attended was dominated by the fact that it was the West Indies player Chris Gayle’s last appearance in a World Cup, and probably his last appearance in an international match in England, with very little detail of the match itself. To both team’s credit, and despite the game being a dead rubber, they played out an exciting match right up to the very last ball, which resulted in a spectacular, diving, one-handed catch. However, this is a minor criticism and this comprehensive record of England’s historic World Cup victory will appeal to all cricket aficionados.

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