Unless taught at birth, the game of cricket will remain as unfathomable as marine surgery, brain science, and rocket biology. The fact that it has only really been taken up in a big way by the former colonies of Britain, and wants to be taken up by countries like Afghanistan, Iceland, and the Netherlands, says to me that the learning curve for the game is hard and that the most important virtue needed for the game, patience, is also difficult to learn. Or perhaps alternatively, cricket was/is the unique vehicle for all the countries of the world to attack England in the most polite and genteel way possible.
The fact that England won the Cricket World Cup in the most remarkable and bizarre circumstances, can be stated but the whyfor is far far harder.
New Zealand who had come to the World Cup with no real chance of winning the tournament, somehow spent the entire thing remaining blissfully unaware of that. They were hard done by when reality conspired against them and a ball which struck the stumps then went on to the boundary; thus turning two into six runs, which also contributed to more runs for England.
Five Live on the BBC immediately after the match had an Indian chap rail against the result, as though crimes against humanity had been committed and when he asked how England could win a match despite being all out, it took someone to go back to the Laws Of The Game to explain what had happened and why.
At the end of New Zealand's 50 overs they had set a score of 241-8 for England to chase down. England were all out for 241 and herein lies the crux of the matter.
Law 18 says:
18.1 A run
The score shall be reckoned by runs.
As far as I know, this was codified oh so very long ago. I would wager that apart from Law 42 which has been tinkered with, most of the Laws Of Cricket have remained intact since before 1877 and this is no exception.
If the score shall be reckoned by runs, then the number of wickets which have fallen is irrelevant. This also explains my ongoing annoyance with the way that the score is displayed in Australia, which I blame Channel 9 for, where the wickets are placed first. The score is not 8/241 because unless you intend to lose wickets (which is a daft prospect) then everyone in the world will admit that people are trying to score runs. Perhaps a bowler can claim bowling stats of 8/241 but I would suggest that they have been bowling for an incredibly long amount of time. 241 is the score; for the loss of 8 wickets, or in the case of England, all ten.
When it came to calculating the results of the World Cup Final, the number of runs scored in both the 50 overs allotted and the super overs, was identical. It therefore made sense that if the score is reckoned by runs as per Law 18, that a count back of the number of boundaries is sensible as that is still reckoning the score by runs. The fact that you have a cigarette paper to separate the two sides is pretty heart breaking if you happen to be on the losing side but it is not like this is a new rule.
There have in fact been 25 One Day Internationals which have been tied, and there have even been a couple of tied Test Matches. In all of those circumstances, the results were tied because the matches were reckoned by runs as per Law 18.
I think that this is one of cricket's most endearing qualities. It is daft that the game is taken so seriously, when you consider that it started out before time immemorial with a bunch of farmers standing around in a field. A Test Match taps into that sense of eternity at times and people will want to disparage the game by saying that it is boring and takes to long but that is part of the charm. I like that you have umpires who stand around in white, like judges who interpret the law, as that also tells us that the rule of law is precious and bigger than the protagonists.
Cricket is a glimpse into eternity, bound by almost arbitrary laws that are practically immutable, and played according to the Spirit of the Game.
I suppose that the Captains could have come together and declared that the match was a tie, which would have been above the Law and acting according to the higher Spirit of the Game but they did not. When you have two teams who are so closely matched and the thing which separated them wasn't cheating, or underhandedness, but the operation of the Laws Of The Game, then that just adds to the story and the unfathomability of the game. The game of cricket benefits by remaining as unfathomable as marine surgery, brain science, and rocket biology, as not even its own laws can tie it down.