How Stokes se­cretly pre­pared for that sen­sa­tional super over

Eng­land’s World Cup glory re­vis­ited,

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult chief cricket cor­re­spon­dent and Steve James

The dress­ing room was in chaos. The um­pire was ex­plain­ing the rules, Roy had lost his box and Archer was hav­ing an in­jec­tion

‘I still can’t quite be­lieve we have got over the line. It was al­most su­per­hu­man from Stokes’

Lord’s is a ca­coph­ony of noise. Mu­sic is blar­ing out of the pub­lic ad­dress sys­tem and the at­mos­phere is raw as the World Cup fi­nal comes down to a super over. Twelve balls will set­tle a seven-week tour­na­ment and de­cide the le­gacy of this Eng­land team.

Finding a quiet spot as the frenzy of the super over ap­proached was hard in a ground packed with 27,000 sup­port­ers and tele­vi­sion cam­eras fol­low­ing the play­ers from the mid­dle, through the Long Room and up the stairs to the dress­ing room. But Ben Stokes had played at Lord’s many times. He knows ev­ery nook and cranny. As Eoin Morgan tries to bring calm to the Eng­land dress­ing room and sort out their tac­tics, Stokes nips off for a mo­ment of peace.

He is cov­ered in dirt and sweat. He has bat­ted for 2hr 27min of un­be­liev­able ten­sion. What does Stokes do? He goes to the back of the Eng­land dress­ing room, past the at­ten­dant’s lit­tle of­fice and into the show­ers. There he lights up a cig­a­rette and has a few min­utes on his own.

If the DJ at the ground had known, he would surely have played Bach’s Air on the G

String, for the mu­sic from the Ham­let ad­vert would have been the per­fect back­drop as Stokes tried to make peace with the task ahead of him.

The dress­ing room was in chaos. Um­pire Aleem Dar was ex­plain­ing the rules of the super over, Ja­son Roy had lost his box and had to bor­row one from Mark Wood, and Jofra Archer was hav­ing an in­jec­tion in his side.

The rules of the super over are that the team who bat­ted se­cond in the match go first but that the bowl­ing side have the choice of ends. Trent Boult sur­pris­ingly chose to bowl from the Nurs­ery End rather than use the slope from the Pavil­ion End.

It meant a re­think for Morgan. Orig­i­nally, Roy was padded up to go in next. But af­ter two balls Morgan de­cided they needed a left­hander be­cause they would be hit­ting to the shorter bound­ary on the leg side un­der the Mound Stand. De­spite his poor form, Morgan vol­un­teered him­self. He would go in if Eng­land lost a wicket.

Jos But­tler and Stokes met again on the stairs go­ing out to start the super over. Friends for years, they had bat­ted to­gether many times but never un­der this pres­sure. Stokes had never been in­volved in a super over and af­ter­wards said: “It’s not one of the things I ever want to be in­volved in again, just be­cause of the stress.”

But­tler drew on his In­dian Premier League ex­pe­ri­ence. “I was cho­sen but I had my hand up as well. I was ready to go. There were 10 sec­onds of: ‘Oh my God, the game is still go­ing on.’ It was sur­real.”

It was no sur­prise New Zealand turned to Boult. He was the most ex­pe­ri­enced bowler on ei­ther side.

It is 7.07pm. The World Cup fi­nal started 8 hr 37 min ago. It feels like a life­time with all the twists and turns of a five-match Ashes se­ries packed into one day. No­body has left the ground. Usu­ally there is a re­served, low hum at Lord’s. Now it is as par­ti­san as Edg­bas­ton’s Hol­lies Stand on Test match fancy-dress day.

Sky flashes up bul­let points on the super over. One says in the event of a tie, the team who have hit the most bound­aries dur­ing the match win. Eng­land are ahead 24-16. But a super over never ends in a tie, does it?

Eng­land are bat­ting first, just how they like it. A score with double fig­ures is the bare min­i­mum.

Ball one: Boult aims for off stump, full length but not quite a yorker. Stokes clears his front leg and tries to whack it through the off side to the Grand­stand bound­ary. The con­nec­tion is not clean. They run three. Eng­land 3-0.

Ball two: But­tler is on strike. Boult goes for his stock ball, the leg-stump yorker. But­tler heaves it to the leg side, one bounce straight to the fielder at deep mid­wicket. Eng­land scramble one. Eng­land 4-0.

Ball three: Boult again bowls full, aim­ing at Stokes’s off stump. Stokes goes down on one knee, sweeps and hits it hard to the short bound­ary on the leg side. “Has he found the gap? Yes he has,” says Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Spe­cial. Eng­land 8-0.

Ball four: Boult goes for a wide yorker, gets it wrong and pro­duces a waist-high full toss. Stokes has to reach for it. It is a gimme. Stokes is tired and slaps it straight to the cover fielder. Eng­land run one. Eng­land 9-0.

Ball five: Right in the block hole on off stump. But­tler chips it into the off side. The low evening sun makes field­ing hard and Henry Ni­cholls strug­gles to pick up the ball in the light. His hes­i­ta­tion al­lows But­tler and Stokes to run two. Eng­land 11-0.

Ball six: But­tler on strike, the 360-de­gree hit­ter. Cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson knows the dan­ger. He is wor­ried about But­tler’s ramp shot. He brings mid­wicket into the cir­cle so he can move third man onto the rope to cover the ramp. Boult goes for a leg-stump yorker, it is off slightly. A full toss. But­tler hits it cleanly to mid­wicket. Two bounces and it is four. Eng­land 15-0.

So New Zealand needed 16 to win. While Eng­land were bat­ting, Archer had been bowl­ing to Chris Sil­ver­wood, the bowl­ing coach, in front of the pavil­ion. There was no mys­tery over who Morgan had cho­sen to de­fend their target.

New Zealand chose Jimmy Nee­sham to bat. Not a sur­prise given his hit­ting. But who to bat with him? They gam­bled on Martin Gup­till, a player bereft of con­fi­dence for the big­gest over in New Zealand’s crick­et­ing his­tory. Why? Be­cause he is the quick­est run­ner in the team. Archer looked cool and com­posed. As he stood at his mark, Stokes walked over from mid-on with some ad­vice that Archer will re­mem­ber for­ever. “Stokesy told me, even be­fore the over: ‘Win or lose, to­day does not de­fine you.’ ”

Stokes, of course, had been hit for four sixes in the last over of the 2016 World Twenty20 fi­nal, some­thing that had fas­ci­nated Archer when they played to­gether in the IPL. “I knew that even if we did lose, it was not the end of the world,”

Archer said. De­spite the out­ward look of calm, Archer had ac­tu­ally started to mark out his run up at the Pavil­ion End un­til the umpires told him he had to bowl from the same end as Boult.

Ball one: Archer goes for the wide off-side yorker, the hard­est ball to hit. But it is a gam­ble. The umpires have two blue lines to help them judge if it is a wide. This one is so close to be­ing per­fect, but it is a cen­time­tre or so the wrong side of the line. Um­pire Kumar Dhar­masena shouts wide. New Zealand 1-0.

Ball one (2nd at­tempt): Archer goes tighter to off stump. An­other yorker. Nee­sham digs it out and times it per­fectly, for it goes slowly along the ground to James Vince at long off and they take two. New Zealand 3-0.

Ball two: Poor ball. Archer’s length is wrong. It is right in the slot. Nee­sham times it beau­ti­fully and the ball flies 50 rows back into the Tav­ern Stand for six. New Zealand 9-0.

Ball three: Seven runs are needed from four balls. It is an­other ball in the slot but slightly fuller. Nee­sham is on the back foot be­cause he is ex­pect­ing the short ball. He swings hard into the leg side but con­nects with a bot­tom edge. Roy snatches at the ball, al­low­ing Nee­sham to get back for the se­cond. New Zealand 11-0.

Ball four: Five needed from three. Archer goes full again. This time it is the right length. Nee­sham can only dig it out and hits it straight to Roy at deep mid­wicket. He picks up cleanly this time. New Zealand gam­ble on the se­cond. Roy throws to the wrong end, the bowler’s end, where Gup­till was al­ways go­ing to make his ground. New Zealand 13-0.

Ball five: Three needed from two balls. In years to come it will be the fi­nal ball of the super over that will be talked about by Eng­land sup­port­ers as they rem­i­nisce on an in­cred­i­ble day. But it was this penul­ti­mate de­liv­ery that was so im­por­tant. Archer knew Nee­sham was pick­ing the york­ers so he gam­bled by chang­ing his length. It was the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing the World Cup. Archer bowls back of a length wide of off stump. Nee­sham swings hard try­ing to pull it to the leg side. It hits the bot­tom edge and trick­les back to Archer. Nee­sham goes for the sin­gle. With ball in hand, Archer could run him out. Agnew speaks for a na­tion as he screams at Archer: “Don’t throw it, don’t throw it …” Over­throws would have been the end. Now Gup­till was on strike for the first time in the over. New Zealand: 14-0.

Ball six: Two needed from one. Eng­land know a tie is good enough. Over to Agnew: “It has come to this. Here is the last ball of the World Cup fi­nal.”

Archer goes full on leg stump. Gup­till tries to place it and take the pace off, giv­ing him and Nee­sham as much time as pos­si­ble to run two. They make one. Roy ad­vances off the mid­wicket bound­ary. No fum­bles this time. No throw to the wrong end ei­ther. Roy’s throw is about two me­tres to But­tler’s right. He has to move across the stumps to gather it in his right hand. He switches it to his left and dives at the stumps. They light up. Gup­till dives but he is short and knows it. New Zealand 15-1. A tie, Eng­land had won on bound­aries hit in the match.

Ian Smith cap­tures the mo­ment vividly. “Eng­land have won the World Cup by the barest of mar­gins. By the barest of all mar­gins. Ab­so­lute ec­stasy for Eng­land. Agony, agony for New Zealand.” Nine sec­onds of si­lence later, Smith says just one word: “Wow.”

But­tler rips off his right glove, then his left, as he runs to­wards the pavil­ion chased by his team-mates. Jonny Bairstow sprints in from the bound­ary to punch the air two-fisted at his mum Janet and sis­ter Becky, who are sit­ting in the Tav­ern Stand. “Dad and Grandad were there with me in spirit also,” he said.

Archer is on the ground punch­ing and kicking the turf like a tod­dler hav­ing a tantrum. Bairstow leaps in Joe Root’s arms. The two have played to­gether since the age of 13. Root shouts: “World Cup, World Cup.”

Morgan gath­ers him­self to speak into a mi­cro­phone. “I still can’t quite be­lieve that we have got over the line,” he said. “It has been an ex­tra­or­di­nary day. It was al­most su­per­hu­man from Stokes. He has car­ried the team.”

The four-year project worked. Eng­land were world cham­pi­ons on a glo­ri­ously sunny evening at Lord’s. This was the 193rd time Lord’s had hosted an Eng­land match. Cricket had never seen a game like this.

Mo­ment of glory: Jos But­tler runs out Martin Gup­till (above) to com­plete a vic­tory in­spired by key play­ers Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer (right)

Cham­pi­ons: Eng­land play­ers start the cel­e­bra­tions on the ground at Lord’s (above) which con­tinue in the dress­ing room (left) af­ter a World Cup tri­umph which had been four years in the mak­ing

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