RICHARD KAY watches as England’s Superman Ben Stokes inspires his side

Kiss that says ‘We’re on top of the world’: RICHARD KAY watches as England’s Superman Ben Stokes inspires his side to Cricket World Cup glory

  • Stokes helped England to their first ever World Cup trophy on an afternoon of unthinkable drama at Lord’s
  • England and New Zealand were tied after 50 overs and the deciding Super Over also failed to separate them
  • As a result England won the match and the trophy because they had scored more boundaries in the game

England’s Ben Stokes celebrates on the pitch after the 2019 Cricket World Cup final. Stokes put in a spectacular performance and will go down in history as one of England’s sporting heroes

Champagne and fireworks sprayed into the sky last night as England’s cricketers, the new world champions, fell to their knees.

An epic display of resilience, perseverance and sheer bloody-mindedness triumphed in one of the greatest matches at the home of cricket.

Lord’s – the bastion of blazers, white flannels and tradition – erupted into a cacophony of unbridled joy to the point of hysteria. 

Never has a match of the sport England brought to the world ended in such stupendous, nerve-shredding, nail-biting pandemonium.

At last a sporting victory that – if not quite ranking alongside England’s football World Cup heroics in 1966 – comes darned close. No more the tag of gallant losers, for so long the nearly men of world cricket.

At exactly 7.30pm, with the sun low over the St John’s Wood stadium, 11 Englishmen finally filled the void in Britain’s trophy cabinet. England – world champions at cricket after the most preposterous, tortuous and see-sawing game it is possible to imagine. 

Fortunes shifted and turned with ridiculous speed. If ever there was a game to sum up the unpredictability and capriciousness of sport, this was it. It had everything, unprecedented drama, heartbreak and sheer heart-stopping passion.

Sealed with a kiss: England’s Ben Stokes celebrates with his partner Clare after England win the World Cup

Fireworks erupt at Lord’s behind the winning England cricketers at captain Eoin Morgan lifts the World Cup trophy 

The England team celebrate at Lord’s as captain Eoin Morgan lifts the World Cup trophy

England’s Jos Buttler knocks the bails off the stumps to take the wicket of New Zealand’s Martin Guptill in the super over to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup

When the moment came England’s newest sporting gods couldn’t take it in. 

They needed the roar of a full house here, the screams of exhilaration. It was matched at the fan-zone in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere around the country with a great outpouring of national gratitude – and relief.

In years to come the history books will simply record this as an England victory over New Zealand. But it was far more than that.

And it will become one of those epic moments when people – asked about July 14, 2019 – will want to say, ‘I was there.’

A cacophony of delirious noise descended on Lord’s. And in the middle of it all, were the two figures who did as much as anything to bring cricket home

Both were born far from these shores – Ben Stokes, the tattooed tough guy, in New Zealand, and Jofra Archer who spent the first 18 years of his life in Barbados.

But last night they were being hailed as heroes of England just as Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst were 53 summers ago.

In fact, this England team will not want to single out any one player – each and every one vital cogs in a machine that looked for a moment, when it mattered most, like it was going to splutter to a halt.

Morgan beams as he becomes the first England cricket captain ever to win a World Cup – in the most thrilling and closest final in history

Underdressed fans in Trafalgar Square looked set to dive into the fountains in the course of their flag-waving celebrations 

The England players leapt for joy after winning their first Cricket World Cup. The trophy is theirs because they scored more boundaries through the final, which was the closest in history

Fans in central London cheered shouted and waved flags beneath Nelson’s Column as in St John’s Wood Lord’s went wild

Redemption for rebel with the Maori tattoos

by Mario Ledwith

Born and raised in New Zealand and with an armful of Maori tattoos, Ben Stokes makes an unlikely England hero.

Indeed, barely 18 months ago, the 28-year-old was facing a possible prison sentence for his part in a disgraceful late-night brawl outside a nightclub.

But in a remarkable redemption, Stokes yesterday batted his way to hero status as he helped his adopted country beat the Kiwis by the narrowest of margins.

Watched by 30,000 fans at Lord’s and a global TV audience of one billion, Stokes produced one of the most outlandish cricket displays ever seen.

As England’s hopes of winning the world cup looked to be fading, Stokes hit a massive six in the final over of regular play before fluking six more runs next ball. After the super over – cricket’s equivalent of a penalty shoot-out – in which he hit eight runs, an ecstatic Stokes described the encounter as the greatest of all time.

‘I am lost for words to be honest,’ he said. ‘So much hard work has gone in, this is what we aspire to be. I don’t think there will ever be a better game in cricket than that.’

The heroics will almost certainly lead to a surge in income for a player who is already among the world’s highest-paid. In 2017, he signed a £1.7million contract to play in India. His England and Wales Cricket Board contract is worth another £1million.

Stokes lives with wife Clare and children Layton and Libby in a five-bedroom house in County Durham, which they bought from convicted sex offender footballer Adam Johnson for £1.7million.

He arrived in England as a 12-year-old when his father Gerard – who was yesterday cheering on the Kiwis – was offered a job as a rugby coach.

In 2017 Stokes found himself at the heart of a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub. He was charged with affray after a night spent drinking lager, vodka and shots. CCTV footage showed him hitting co-defendant Ryan Ali, 28, and former soldier Ryan Hale, 27, with such force that both were knocked out. Stokes was dropped as England vice-captain as a result and further lost out on an Ashes tour place.

The Durham player was eventually cleared. However he was fined £15,000 by the cricket authorities after pleading guilty to bringing the game into disrepute. A further £15,000 was levied against him over social media footage of him mocking the disabled son of Katie Price.

In 2011, he was arrested and cautioned for obstructing police during a night out in Cumbria. In 2013, he was sent home in disgrace after he ignored a curfew to enjoy a boozy night out in Australia. Teammates duly nicknamed him ‘The Hurt Locker’ when in 2014, he broke his hand by punching a dressing-room locker in anger.

Given his past, yesterday’s success was all the more remarkable.

But that they got over the line at the end of a ‘super over’ of sudden-death cricket after the scores were tied, was down these two remarkable young men. 

Stokes with his bludgeoning bat and Archer with his smooth-as-silk run-up and delivery of a ball that denied New Zealand their chance of glory.

Gut-wrenching for the black-clad Kiwis who were within a single run of victory but euphoria for the men in light blue.  

Eoin Morgan’s side tied the final with New Zealand on 241 runs each – and then both astonishingly scored 15 runs in the supposedly tie-breaking super-over.

Fans held their breath as New Zealand’s batsman Martin Guptill dived in a bid to score a winning 16th run but England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler managed to gather the ball and run him out by just inches.

It meant the home side triumphed because they scored more boundaries – sending fans at Lord’s and thousands more in Trafalgar Square – plus watching on television – into delirium.

England had appeared dead-and-buried as they chased the Black Cap’s score but strong innings by Buttler and Ben Stokes, some fielding blunders from New Zealand, and some jaw-dropping good luck reversed their fortunes. 

In one remarkable moment in the final over of England’s 50, a dive for the crease by Stokes even connected unknowingly with a throw-in from a fielder, generating four overthrows and keeping English hopes alive. 

That paved the way for the super over, a six-ball shoot-out that had only occurred 11 times in international history and never before in an ODI. 

Pulsating, absorbing and in a way utterly ridiculous. Nothing could separate these two teams – they had fought each other to an epic draw.

But there has to be a winner. So after 50 overs each of outstanding cricket they came back for a do-or-die over of six balls each. The team with the most runs would win.

Who else could England turn to but Stokes? In his six years as an England player he has been hero and villain. But yesterday he was something else – a man of steel, Superman even. 

His team crumbled around him as he strained every sinew to get them over the line. 

By the end he was almost on his knees with exhaustion, his eyes rimmed with sweat, dirt and fatigue.

But he stepped forward to lead the charge. Together with Jos Buttler, another of England’s superstars, they posted 15 runs from their six balls. 

Step forward Archer, the youngest, most callow member of this remarkable team. Rather than the experience of, say, Chris Woakes, captain Eoin Morgan went for Archer’s sublime speed.

He did not disappoint, though it was only with the very last ball that the win was reached. 

All smiles: Joe Root and Jos Buttler celebrate winning the Cricket World Cup after the closest-possible Final

Bedlam: England players wheel away after they won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in the most dramatic ending imaginable in the final at Lord’s 

Supporters in the ‘fanzone’ in Trafalgar Square celebrate after watching England win the Cricket World Cup today

England’s Ben Stokes, whose match-saving knock rescued the game for England when a collapse seemed imminent, celebrates after winning the Cricket World Cup final

Had New Zealand made two runs, it would have been they and not England in cricketing heaven. Afterwards Stokes spoke for the nation: ‘I don’t think there will be a better game of cricket in history.’

He was not exaggerating. As a sporting contest this was unmatched, tipping first one way then another.

England had come to Lord’s as massive favourites. 

They were playing at home in front of a huge, partisan crowd and on the back on a magnificent demolition of Australia in the semi-finals. 

The stars were surely aligned for the home side to finally do what they have never done in their history. The last time they were even in a final was 27 years ago when Prince Andrew was still married to Sarah Ferguson.

Yesterday Andrew, long since divorced, was there representing his mother the Queen. 

Buckingham Palace released a statement from her after the pulsating match: ‘Prince Philip and I send our warmest congratulations to the England men’s cricket team after such a thrilling victory. 

‘I also extend my commiserations to the runners-up New Zealand, who competed so admirably in today’s contest and throughout the tournament.’ 

Fans watching in pubs around the country erupted in joy after the last ball – pictured fans at The George Inn

The final twelve balls went for thirty runs, each one greeted as agony or ecstasy by the hordes of fans in Trafalgar Square 

Prime Minister Theresa May was also there. 

She loves her cricket and pretty soon she will be able to spend much more time following the sport as she prepares to leave Downing Street.

The ground was packed with supporters of every stripe. Indians and Australians making as much noise as the fans of the two competing teams. 

There was all sorts of entertainment that cricketing bods think they need to provide these days – an electric guitar wizard who played at the fall of every wicket, the Red Devils parachute team and the ubiquitous streaker.

The touts had a field day. I saw a ticket changing hand for £500, others were going for £3,000.

I also saw the heartbreak of a young man being turned away after he shelled out £300 for what was a forgery. 

The ground was festooned with Union flags and as the tension ratcheted up they were waved increasingly frantically.

In past encounters between these teams, the members wearing their egg and tomato ties and garish jackets would have watched proceedings from their famous redoubt, the Pavilion, with polite applause.

Not yesterday, on the greatest day of English cricket.

Making a splash: Cricket fans in Trafalgar Square cool off in the fountains as the match reached a gripping climax on Sunday

Super Sunday: England cricket fans pack into Trafalgar Square to watch the World Cup final on a day which ended in extraordinary drama in both the cricket and the tennis

The Barmy Army flocked to London’s Trafalgar Square yesterday morning hoping that England would take their first ever World Cup victory at the home of cricket

Trafalgar Square was packed with cricket fans yesterday afternoon enjoying a beer and watching the England run chase in the capital

Five defining moments from the tightest cup final ever

England claimed their maiden World Cup triumph in the most dramatic fashion, edging out New Zealand after an unprecedented Super Over. Here are five of the stand-out moments from a nerve-jangling finale at Lord’s.

Unprecedented Super Over separates the sides

Jason Roy’s throw and Jos Buttler’s stumping ran out Martin Guptill on the last ball of a first-ever Super Over handed England the World Cup trophy. That run out meant England and New Zealand both posted 15 runs from their single overs, that acted as extra time after both teams hit 241 in 50 overs. And with yet another tie, England swiped the silverware by virtue of their superior number of boundaries from their regular innings.

Bizarre fielding blips help England inch to the tie

As Ben Stokes stretched for home on a risky second run, Martin Guptill fired for the stumps. Stokes’ bat not only denied Guptill a run-out, it also shot the ball for a freak boundary. The two runs and four byes edged England to the first-ever World Cup final tie. It came after Trent Boult touched the boundary rope when holding a catch from Stokes, which gave the England talisman a six rather than a dismissal.

Stokes punches away Neesham in key strike

Stokes battled England’s way back in to the match with a gritty nurdling 100 partnership with Jos Buttler. But when the all-rounder thumped Jimmy Neesham for a dart-straight four, he signalled the cavalry charge in stunning, unflinching style. With England 100 for four in the 28th over of their chase for 242 and World Cup glory, Stokes’ technically adept and clinically pugnacious shot completely changed the tone of this match.

Buttler blisters back to form – and the rescue

The most bruising of England’s muscle-bound big hitters raced into this tournament with a century against Pakistan and 64 against Bangladesh. But then Buttler’s runs dried up and his form evaporated – until, just when England needed him most, the real Buttler returned. Coming to the crease at 86 for four and with captain Morgan trudging back to the pavilion, Buttler set about building a lasting 110-run partnership with Ben Stokes. 

Plunkett bags danger man Williamson

The most prolific One-Day International wicket taker between overs 11 and 40 not only forced his way back into England’s first-choice XI in this competition but he has now played a pivotal role in their maiden World Cup triumph. Plunkett reinforced his reputation as the talisman-slayer, adding the key wicket of Kiwi captain Kane Williamson to that of Quinton De Kock, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, in a stunning World Cup performance.

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