World Cup 2019 Final: Should The Overthrow That Gave England an ‘Accidental Six’ in Final Over Only Have Counted For 5 Runs?
The overthrow runs impacted the equation to the extent that the heart-stopping contest stretched to the Super Over, which also ended in a tie, and eventually England lifted their maiden World Cup trophy due to a “technicality”.
Ben Stokes raises his hands to signal that the touch off his bat was unintentional.
While England rejoiced, a shattered and devastated New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was left to rue the unfortunate overthrow in the last over that eventually turned the epic World Cup final in England's favour on Sunday.
In the last over of the regulation 50-over chase, England needed 9 runs from the final three balls when a throw from the deep touched a diving Ben Stokes' bat and raced to the boundary ropes.
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena, after consulting with his colleagues, signaled six runs for the incident – two that the batsmen ran and four for the overthrow.
It impacted the equation to the extent that the heart-stopping contest stretched to the Super Over, which also ended in a tie, and eventually the hosts lifted their maiden World Cup trophy due to a “technicality”.
However, as pointed out by ESPNCricinfo, perhaps England should only have been awarded five runs, and not six, based on the rules of the game. And in a match that could not be separated based on runs scored and was only decided by number of boundaries hit, that single run could have been the difference.
Law 19.8, which deals with "Overthrow or wilful act of fielder", 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."
The crucial part that applies to the World Cup final is the last bit - run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act. When the ball was released by the New Zealand fielder, Martin Guptill, Stokes and his partner, Adil Rashid, had not yet crossed for their second run.
However, there is scope for ambiguity due to the wording of the law since it states “at the instant of the throw or the act”. While the meaning of throw here is implied, the “act” can be interpreted as the moment the ball deflected off Stokes' bat. However, there is no reference to the batsman's actions at any other point in the law.
The ICC has been contacted for clarification but has not yet responded.
Stokes later apologised to New Zealand captain Kane Williamson for that lucky unintentional touch. "In the last over when the ball hit the bat and went for four - I apologized to Kane for that."
Williamson said he hopes it never happens in such a crucial moment again. "It was a shame that the ball hit Stokes' bat, but I just hope it doesn't happen in moments like that. I don't wish to nitpick, just hope it never happens in such moments ever again," Williamson said.
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