After a morale-boosting win against India, England once again rode on the brilliance of their openers against New Zealand to qualify for their first World Cup semi-final in 27 years. John Stern tells us how in the 2020 Wisden Almanack.
England v New Zealand
Match 41, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
July 3, 2019
England got the breaks, and the points, to qualify for their first World Cup semi-final since 1992. With their third successive defeat, New Zealand limped haplessly towards the last four, knowing a Pakistan miracle 48 hours later was the only obstacle in their way.
Had this been a must-win game for them – as it was for England – they might have risked Lockie Ferguson, their fastest bowler and one of the stars of the tournament. But they protected his hamstring and brought back Southee, who had destroyed England in the 2015 World Cup, but whose previous competitive match had been ten weeks earlier at the IPL.
His cobwebs were brutally blown away by Bairstow, who launched his third and fourth balls through the covers, and took 13 off his next over. He and Roy brought up a third consecutive century stand, inside 15 overs, before New Zealand fought back. From 194-1 after 30, with Bairstow completing his second hundred in a row, England managed only another 111-7 as the pitch slowed dramatically, and the bowlers took pace off the ball.
But New Zealand’s pursuit never gained momentum, and England had all the luck: Nicholls failed to review an lbw shout from Woakes that was going over the top, before Williamson was run out backing up when Taylor’s drive received the merest deflection off Wood’s fingertips. Wood’s version of events was typically eccentric: “He doesn’t know how unlucky he is, because I’ve got the smallest hands for a bloke you’ve ever seen.”
Next over, Taylor was run out too, chancing a second to Rashid at deep backward square. Latham found form at last, but no one could stay with him, and Wood picked up three on his home ground to confirm England’s first World Cup win over New Zealand since 1983.
First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack