Each week, chief sports writer Joshua Jayde tries to recover from the Cricket World Cup final devastation by summarizing the events of a tumultuous week in sport.
Breaking the Tie
Two weeks ago, the country witnessed a moment unparalleled in our sporting history. New Zealand’s men’s cricket team, having only made the semi-finals due to a contentious statistic, became the first team to lose a World Cup to one, being the only team to not lose a final, but still not win the World Cup.
Typical New Zealand.
England were awarded the trophy on “boundary countback” after the Super Over decider was tied; unlike wickets, runs incorrectly awarded against them and the number of Colins in the team, this put them ahead of the Black Caps. Strangely, in the same weekend, the New Zealand Warriors managed to pull off the first NRL draw in 2 years against the Brisbane Broncos after the teams couldn’t be separated in extra time, but unlike the cricket, both teams shared the points.
Which brings me to tiebreakers. What do you do when two teams can’t be separated? Is it best to let them keep playing until one team wins or they all die of exhaustion? Or should a tie just be a tie?
I’ll start with the NFL. If a game is tied in normal time, both teams have either 10 or 15 minutes to score; essentially whoever scores a touchdown first wins, even if the other team hasn’t had a chance to. This means that a majority of overtime games finish with the team playing first taking the game – strategy tends to come down to winning the toss. In real football, and in many other sports, they use the dreaded penalty shootout – about four minutes of a young millionaire walking slowly towards the ball, hitting it miles into the stands, then lying on the ground as they imagine the devastating financial consequences of their mistake.
Penalty shootouts can actually be a really effective way of breaking a tie, but sometimes both teams are just too stubborn to win. In one game in Namibia, it took 48 penalties (that’s up to 3 penalties each player) to separate the teams. By the end, all the spectators had left, the stadium had been demolished and all the players were eligible for a pension. A penalty shootout is also used in rugby, but only one has ever happened in top end games, when Leicester defeated Cardiff in 2009 by virtue of their gigantic forwards being able to kick a ball 20 metres in a straight line.
This splitting of teams by any means is a common feature of these sports. However, in cricket it seems almost blasphemous to do so. This is the game that introduced draws in its longest format after South Africa and England couldn’t be separated in 9 days of cricket back in March 1939. These days, draws occur in close to a third of men’s Test matches and, unbelievably, around 60% of women’s Tests. You would think that a game which has such a propensity for letting both teams walk off the pitch as equals would never stoop to such methods in order to determine a champion?
In happier news, last week the Silver Ferns managed to upset Australia and win the Netball World Cup. The World Cup has only ever been won by those two teams, with one exception: Trinidad and Tobago, at home in 1979, came first, but only in a three-way tie with the other two (See, ICC? You can have more than one World Cup winner.) This latest tournament marked a fantastic turnaround from the Ferns, who bounced back from finishing fourth in last year’s Commonwealth Games by outplaying hosts England in the semi-finals, then holding firm against the 11-time winners to win their first Cup in 16 years.
No Rest for the Wicked
Finally, to the madness of football. Given that in many countries this sport dominates headlines for its 10 month-long, overcrowded European season, you’d think for those other two months it would relax, put its feet up on a beach in some tax haven island in the Atlantic, and leave us alone? Not a chance. June brought us the Women’s World Cup, which was actually far more enjoyable than the men’s one the year before, with the England vs USA semi-final a personal highlight. But once the tournament finished, the men’s game reared its head and reminded us what football is really about. Watch in awe as the world’s richest clubs pay enough to buy the whole of Hamilton for players you’ll never hear of again – or, like me, ignore all that chaos and instead spend the rest of the semester watching replays of the Cricket World Cup final on repeat, in the hope that someday, the result will magically change.