We Bloody Won! A Firsthand Account From Lord’s

It’s Friday morning, and I get a text message from a friend of mine.

“Gentle reminder. We are World Fucking Champions. Still can’t quite believe it”.

My heart races again. A tear forms in my ear. There’s a clenched fist somewhere and my heart races.

And the thought is repeated over and over again: We were there. We were there. We were there.

We were at the Home of Cricket, cheering every ball to the boundary like we would a horse at the Grand National. We tried to act rationally, but failed to do so. Apart from at the ending, when we didn’t bother as we simply found any God to pray to – atheists or not.

The four of us had paid over £1,000 to be there. We’d paid an ‘Official Travel Company’ for the four tickets, bought after we hammered South Africa at The Oval. We’d lamped a possible semi-finalist, and we were confident we could smash the rest of them until the final games. And then Pakistan happened. Then Sri Lanka happened. And then Australia happened.

Panic Stations were hit, with the maths talked about ad nauseum on Whatsapp. Basically: if we went out before the semi-finals, we could put the tickets onto the secondary market, where they would be snapped up by confident India fans, who would sell their own mother to see their team lift the trophy. After all, so many of them had come to London that they’d hit their incoming visa limit in days.

John, one of my friends, was decidedly calm. “Four knock-outs. That’s all we need. Four knock-outs.” He was the positive one. For me, I had been disappointed too many times with England cricket teams. As it goes, we went into the semi-finals relatively easy, thanks to wins over India and New Zealand.

And then India lost. “I haven’t seen prices collapse since the 1929 crash”, laughed, Dan, another member of the group noted. 1987 and 2008 were pretty bad too, I replied pedantically, before getting my coat.

John and I went to Edgbaston. The seller of our tickets was someone from India (like a lot of secondary ticket sellers that day). The Fortress was a cacophony of noise. Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi fans joined the white-as-chalk Barmy Army in cheering us on against the Australians. It was a true reflection of how Britain is. Sod what the racists want you to believe. This is why Britain’s awesome.

Anyway, back to Lord’s. We’d got there, India hadn’t. Virat Kholi was grumpy, saying how unfair it was that the winner of the league stage didn’t get double jeopardy like the IPL. Indian fans were grumpy, saying that Ravi Shastri should never manage a game again and The King should resign from his ODI captaincy. The Indians around us shrugged their shoulders. “Dhoni can’t turn ones into twos”, a bloke told me. I didn’t remind him about Martin Guptill’s arm for fear of tempting Father Fate, let alone Father Time.

There was a bit of joy about bowling first in overcast conditions. After all we had Archer and Woakes. The joy lessened when New Zealand passed 100 for the loss of only one wicket, and things were looking pretty easy for the Kiwis. The fans in black were louder, and I was a littler bit grumpier.

And then the pitch got the better of New Zealand as England started to limit them, and they lost 7 wickets for about 140 runs.

Right. 241 to win.

“This is very gettable,” we said to ourselves. We thought about the destruction of the Australians, walked away with an 8-wicket victory that was highlighted by a six from Jason Roy that I’m sure will be discovered by one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Satellites. An outburst from J-Roy and Bairstow, and we’d gallop home. After all, the two of them had destroyed the other lot, so why not?

And then Jason Roy went.

Root never got comfortable, and went too.

Eoin Morgan, the hero of Afghanistan, couldn’t time the ball properly, and was off to the pavilion.

Bairstow, who had played well but not got enough love for his shots, played on.

Suddenly, our hopes were in tatters. Together, Lord’s seemed to send a two fingers to the heavens. My friend Suzy was so pissed off that she accelerated on the Gin and Tonics (she’d played a Test innings so far), and walked off in a grump to smoke her weight in cigarettes. But bearing in mind that my drinking stopped almost 20 years ago because of overconsumption of alcoholic and herbal cigarettes, I had nothing to do but sit there.

Give me a herbal cigarette. Give me a drink. Give me a valium. Anything to cool the nerves.

“One partnership of over 100 between Buttler and Stokes, and we’ve got this,” Dan said, ever the optimist. His love of cricket takes a more analytical approach. While he can agree that England played terribly, he can also look at a game and say: “We should do this, if we do this.”

My line of thinking? A little more emotional. Any English calamity or loss in this World Cup made me want to call Beretta to ask if they might saw off one of their £3,000 shotguns for me (for personal use, obviously!). There was also a great deal of reverse psychology in this. Every time I’d made a prediction in this World Cup – including announcing that India would ‘waltz’ their run chase against New Zealand (sorry Indian fans) – quite the opposite happened.

This was too painful. The Four Horsemen of heart attacks, anguish, rage and despair were on me. I was sitting there at Lord’s watching this crap happen again. Maybe I should do what I normally do, and avoid the England innings and sit on the phone watching Cricinfo by St John’s Wood Tube. Then they might pull this out. I can’t take this anymore. I just can’t.

 The more Buttler and Stokes played properly, the more we believed there was a chance. Ones and twos were vigorously applauded, and any ball that hit the boundary was met with an explosion. As The Barmy Army started to relentlessly cheer, so did the Mound Stand. It was Edgbaston at Lord’s – the most hallowed cricketing venue on God’s Green Earth.

Then Buttler gets out with 45 to go, trying something to get the team over the finish line. Silence

Woakes swiftly follows, trying to be hero. Plunkett’s 10 from 13 balls was a lot of fun, but we were still 21 out.

Come on Ben Stokes. You can do this. It’s Ben Stokes time. I hated you for what happened in Bristol. I blamed your absence for us getting hammered in Australia. You’ve been good but not exceptional since your return. The whole country needs you. Give it your, err, best shot!

Stokes hits a bomb out to the deep. Has Boult caught it? No. He stepped on the boundary. It’s a six. The Pavilion with all the MCC windbags in there must have sucked the ball in. We’ve still got life.

Fifteen off the last over. Trent Boult’s going to come like a bullet, Ben. Don’t screw this up.

First two balls. Nothing. Then Stokes hammers one into the Mound Stand. The place erupts. There’s belief again. Then there’s another. It’s two. The throw comes in. Stokes is diving for the crease. The ball whacks his bat. We cheer. And it goes for four. Six. Six runs. Thank you, God. We might just make this. Stokes apologises, but we don’t care. The end of the game finishes with two runs out. We’re tight.

We’re tied. A Super Over. We can’t hear what the announcer’s going on about with tiebreakers. Hey Mr Kiwi at the back! Good luck! Thanks. You too. And yeah, I’m tense too.

The Mound Stand is back on its feet, crossing fingers, toes and bladders. There were no atheists in this cricketing foxhole. You could have put all the booze in the world into the 30,000 people looking on, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Everyone was standing straight, living off the adrenaline.

That’s 15 off the Super Over. Do you think that’ll be enough? I’m not happy with bringing on Joffra. See? I told you that was a bad decision. The wide. The two. The six. We’re going to choke again. I told you. We’re going to choke again. Two. Two. We might make this. One. One. They are going for two. FUCK ME! EVERYONE’S GOING MENTAL! WE’VE WON! WE’VE WON THE WORLD CUP!

The roaring Mound Stand? Huggy puddle. Us four hug each other. We’ve done it. We’ve won. For once, we can ignore QPR – the way we met each other. We’d won.

I only find out later that it was less about the runs – New Zealand finish on the same Super Over score – but it was on the second tiebreaker of boundaries (we hit more than they did).

But I’ll take it. Because after seeing this team crush my emotions between 1989 to 2004 in Test Matches and every World Cup I can remember, I’ll take it. Crappy things happen to good people – like the Kiwis – and for once, we got the rub of the green.We’re World Champions.

At the end, it was a perfect day. And I was glad to spend it with those guys.

Alex Ferguson



  • Glad you enjoyed it! So did I, a great game, but just left me a little hollow at the end like a lot of people. Both sides won this, sorry.

    • Rather think you’re in the minority of anyone who watched the game Doug. Well, unless you’re an Aussie, of course.

    • It didn’t leave me feeling hollow. I was high as a kite ! And I was wired all next day.

  • I don’t buy into the concept that it was a hollow victory due to a double tie. It’s not as if both sides consulted the rule book at the end and only then discovered that England had won. The target in the super over was 16 for a win. Everyone knew that 15 was a loss for NZ. It’s like saying that a drawn series in the Ashes and trophy retention for the Aussies doesn’t really count as a win for them. In any sport if you know that a tie favours one particular side that becomes the marker for the opponents to exceed.

    • Yes but it wasn’t a loss for NZ as it was still tied.The winner was decided on boundaries. Oh hell, England “won”, let’s leave it there.

      • Rules are rules. Winning on a technicality (plus an umpiring error) is still winning.

        It’s not England’s fault that the ICC invented a bad rule and the umpires screwed up.

        • Never said it was England’s fault at all, but it’s a daft rule that needs changing before the next WC. Indeed if there is one

  • There are times in cricket when being there means a hell of a lot. I still remember being at the SCG when Darren Gough took a hat trick. Well, actually I was outside the ground when it happened. I’d given up. Such & Ramprakash were bowling, Australia were building a lead, and I thought sod this! Will always regret that. If only I’d given it a few more mins.

    But at least I saw the Dean Headley game at the MCG a week earlier. Well actually I missed that too. Saw all 5 days but had to leave before the end as we needed to get a bus to Sydney. Didn’t think England stood a cat’s chance in hell of winning when I booked it!

    So basically I’m very envious Alex. Sounds like it was worth every penny to be there. And power to you for not giving up early and going home like I would’ve done ;-)

  • Love these ‘I was there’ articles. You need to gather them together and put them in a book. They’re often more entertaining than the journalists and player accounts that dominate titles at bookshops.
    As an avid cricket book reader I love the Victorian and Edwardian accounts of games, players and incidents from often amateur sources, which may be partisan but have that freshness of something new about them, as there was no wall to wall cricket the world over like now. It was still an often strange and beguiling spectacle.
    The genuine fan, as long as they’re reasonably literate, can still do this for our great game now. They’re speaking from the heart with the raw emotion of watching things unfold as it happens. Cricket can transcend allegiances so the game itself becomes the core interest, not just a team’s fortunes. Hence there are so many, I have to say not me amongst them, who still feel New Zealand should have been declared joint World Cup winners to celebrate an occasion without partiality for the sake of the game and I fully respect that.

  • The Boundary Rule was daft. But it was a Rule. It was known in advance.

    Much better would have been to give it to the team who finished higher up the table. Still England.

    And I do agree with Kohli. I think that the IPL Knockout Stage is so good it should be adopted now in every competition in every sport where it is possible and practical to do so (Including where top two qualify from each of two groups).
    Of course though there is no point complaining afterwards that it wasn’t in place in a competition that you have just been knocked out of.

  • I still say that a final of anything has to be all about what happens on the day. I feel introducing factors separate from that undermines the occasion. I don’t agree with sharing a trophy, someone has to go away winners to give credibility to it. If you share it there is no winner, presenting the trophy to anyone then defeats the object. If both sides accept the rules beforehand it doesn’t matter what those rules are, who deserves anything is irrelevant. How many teams win trophies ugly or by having the rub of the green? An awful lot. It’s amazing how often a positive oitlook seems to create more luck.


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