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Rediff.com  » Cricket » World Cup: England, NZ ready to resume 'Super' rivalry

World Cup: England, NZ ready to resume 'Super' rivalry

September 30, 2023 17:05 IST
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IMAGE: Defending champions England led by Jos Buttler will be one of the top favourites at World Cup 2023. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

From Trent Boult inadvertently standing on the boundary rope to Ben Stokes sliding in to divert a throw for the most fortuitous of overthrows, then the first-ever ODI Super Over arriving on the grandest of stages, it was a match which had it all.

 

The fabled home of cricket has rarely witnessed a cacophony of noise like that which greeted Jos Buttler whipping off the bails with Martin Guptill short of his ground, England securing victory on boundary countback after both the regulation match and Super Over finished tied.

It marked a culmination of England's remarkable journey under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, who set out to lift the World Cup on home soil and achieved it, as famously uttered by commentator Ian Smith, by the barest of margins.

New Zealand will have noted the irony in the fact it was their own fearless approach, inspired by Brendon McCullum, which sparked Morgan's mantra. McCullum, of course, has since gone on to similarly revolutionise England's Test team.

Memories of that famous day at Lord's will be in the minds of both teams on October 5 as they kick off the World Cup 2023 in Ahmedabad, not least because so many of the same players will be on show.

Seven from each XI in the final four years ago are part of their country's respective squads this time around, with Buttler having stepped up to captain England following Morgan's retirement.

Two of England's other World Cup winners, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, were unanimous in their view that the 2019 final was 'the greatest game ever', and both sides will be relying on their experienced heads as they look to mount a challenge for the silverware again.

IMAGE: Can New Zealand end their long wait for a World Cup title? Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Runners-up at the last two World Cups, as well as at the T20 World Cup 2021, New Zealand did claim the global silverware their cross-format consistency merited when lifting the ICC World Test Championship two years ago.

Kane Williamson, has been named in the squad for this competition despite doubts over his fitness and will be eager to right the wrongs from 2019, after which he gained no shortage of admirers for his magnanimous response to such an agonising defeat.

Recognising the bigger picture of such a remarkable match, he said in his press conference: "Everybody loved it – the English loved it more than we did, I think. It was a brilliant game of cricket.

"You play this game to help grow the game and hopefully the sport grows, and people start enjoying, or perhaps attract new viewers. That's always a really important part to what you do and hopefully this achieves something like that."

A similarly dramatic clash to begin this year's competition may be too much to ask but there should be plenty of thrills and spills in the latest match-up between two sides who share plenty of mutual respect, particularly if their recent ODI series is anything to go by.

Ben Stokes, who has come out of retirement in this format to take his place among the squad preparing for a defence of their trophy, blasted England's highest-ever ODI score (182) to help his side earn a 3-1 victory though the Black Caps showed what they could do in the opener by chasing down 291 for the loss of just two wickets.

It is set to be another barnstorming meeting between two of the favourites for the trophy -- and a fitting way to start a cricketing feast.

(ICC 2023)

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