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Six or five runs for Ben Stokes? Overthrow controversy in last over of World Cup final

Updated July 15, 2019

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England's Ben Stokes holds his hands up in apology after the ball hit him and deflected to reach the boundary, as he dived to make his ground during the 2019 Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on July 14. — AFP
England's Ben Stokes holds his hands up in apology after the ball hit him and deflected to reach the boundary, as he dived to make his ground during the 2019 Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on July 14. — AFP

One of the biggest turning points of the World Cup final humdinger between England and New Zealand was the overthrow on the fourth ball of the final over bowled by Trent Boult.

Needing nine runs from three balls to win their first-ever men’s World Cup crown, England were handed an unlikely lifeline when a Martin Guptill throw bounced off Ben Stokes and raced to the third man boundary. The English all-rounder, who had played the ball to deep midwicket and had dived to complete a second run, had not made any deliberate contact with the ball and despite his repeated apology to the New Zealand players, the overthrow runs were bound to be counted.

Related: Ben Stokes sorry for outrageous fluke on day of redemption

The only question was whether five or six runs should be added to the England total and after considerable deliberations with his colleague, umpire Kumar Dharmasena signaled a six – four runs for overthrow and two runs the players ran.

Social media and experts have been divided over whether the hosts should have been awarded five runs or six, although neither of the captains – Eoin Morgan of England and Kane Williamson of New Zealand – commented on it during the post-match press conference.

Read: Even in heart-breaking loss, Williamson shows why he is best cricket has to offer

Here is what rule 19.8 in ICC’s Handbook says:

A look at the television replays show that Stokes and non-striker Adil Rashid had not crossed for the second run when Guptill released the ball from the mid-wicket fence while the former was still short of his crease when the ball hit his bat and went to the boundary.

There is no clarity on what exactly is the definition of ‘act’ in the above mentioned rule and it is unclear whether the instance of the ball hitting Stokes bat can be termed as one.

However, from the final decision taken by the two on-field umpires, that seems to be the case for now.

But unless the International Cricket Council officially clarifies what exactly was discussed in the middle, jury would be out on the interpretation of that rule.

'Clear mistake'

Former ICC umpire, and widely regarded as one of the best to have officiated the game, Simon Taufel has added his weight to the argument that Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus got their call wrong: “They (England) should have been awarded five runs, not six,” Taufel is quoted as saying by foxsports.com.au. “It’s a clear mistake … it’s an error of judgment. In the heat of what was going on, they thought there was a good chance the batsmen had crossed at the instant of the throw. Obviously TV replays showed otherwise.”

The interpretation ambiguity is dealt with MCC’s handbook as explained in the tweet below:

Taufel also added that it was “unfair on England, New Zealand and the umpires involved” to say that one call decided the outcome of the match.


This article was originally published in Scroll.In and has been reproduced with permission.