WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Cricket fans in New Zealand were heartbroken on Monday after their team came excruciatingly close to a maiden cricket World Cup victory, only to lose to England on total boundaries scored.
“End of the World! Black Caps lose by zero runs,” screamed a headline in the New Zealand Herald newspaper.
“It was cruel. It was incredible. It was one of the greatest sporting encounters you’ll ever see. And it broke New Zealand’s hearts,” said a column in the paper.
About 12,000 miles from Lord’s, New Zealanders stayed up through the night watching at pubs, college campuses and their homes, cheering for an underdog team that reached the final with inspiring all-round performances led by skipper Kane Williamson.
But the excitement turned to despair before dawn as England emerged winners in a thrilling finish.
With the match tied after England were bowled out for 241 with the last ball of the 50th over, both teams scored 15 runs in a nerve-jangling Super Over. But the home side claimed the trophy because they had hit more boundaries in the match.
Local radio station hosts in New Zealand capital Wellington described empty roads on Monday as people took the day off to mourn the loss.
“Nice work @ICC … you are a joke!!!” former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris wrote on Twitter, lashing out at the sport’s global governing body over the boundary rule.
Former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming described the loss as “cruel”.
“The guys are shattered. It’s devastating. Tough to swallow,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said at the presentation ceremony.
England were helped along the way by good fortune, including a deflection off top run scorer Ben Stokes’ outstretched bat which ran to the boundary in the 50th over.
“Cricket is a game often decided by centimetres. And so it was today,” New Zealand’s Sports Minister Grant Robertson wrote on Twitter.
Stokes’ father, who lives in New Zealand’s South Island city of Christchurch, said he was thrilled for his son but bitterly disappointed for New Zealand.
He even suggested sharing the trophy.
“They could have shared the trophy but that doesn’t seem to be how things are done these days,” Gerard Stokes told the New Zealand Herald.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who watched the match through the night, said she felt nothing but pride for the team.
“I think as a nation we all aged a year in that super over,” Ardern said in a post on Instagram.
“I feel nothing but pride. What a team,” she added.