WELLINGTON: An all-night vigil by New Zealand fans ended in bitter disappointment when they saw their team beaten by England after an unprecedented Super Over and a tie-breaking countback in the final of the ICC World Cup.

Sunday’s final began at 10:00pm New Zealand time and ended, dramatically, about 6:30am on Monday when many dejected fans had to drag themselves away from their TVs and head wearily to work, while some of those were still trying to work out how New Zealand lost.

It was the cruelest way for New Zealand’s giant-killing run through the tournament to end. Some supporters immediately vented anger at the rules which allowed a team which had been bowled out to bat again. One forlorn fan asked how a team could be beaten by zero runs.

Former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris was unhappy with the sport’s governing body and tweeted “nice work @ICC ... you are a joke!!!”

Others took the defeat with more resignation.

News website stuff.co.nz said New Zealand had been denied by the fine print.

“England did not win the Cricket World Cup final and the Black Caps did not lose it,” an editorial said. “But the tournament had to have a winner, somehow. And in the end, what was perhaps the most dramatic ODI ever played, was decided by a curious, contentious fine-print rule.”

Actor Sam Neill, an ardent cricket fan, posted: “Great ambassadors. Couldn’t be more proud. Gracious in the narrowest of defeats.”

The New Zealand All Blacks, who have won their last two Rugby World Cup finals, tweeted: “Thanks for the ride you have taken us on over the past six weeks, @BLACKCAPS. You have done New Zealand proud and can hold your heads high.”

New Zealand Sports Minister Grant Robertson, who watched the match at Lord’s, told Radio New Zealand: “I think that was probably the greatest game of one-day cricket ever played and for New Zealand to be part of it is something really special.

“Obviously, it didn’t end the way we would all have wanted, but I’m incredibly proud of the way the team played,” Robertson added. “They were so gutsy and they play cricket the way it should be played.”

He further remarked: “They are loved by other fans all around the world because of the way they play the game.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took pride in how the New Zealanders played and responded.

“I feel nothing but pride in Kane and the team. It was an outstanding tournament but that final match will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable games,” Ardern said in a statement. “And it was played by Black Caps who are just outstanding sportsmen, plain and simple. They absolutely deserve our admiration. They certainly have mine.”

England match-winner Ben Stokes was born in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where his parents Gerard and Deb Stokes still live.

Gerard Stokes, who played rugby league for New Zealand, told Radio New Zealand he was proud of his son’s performance but also sad for New Zealand.

“I’m sad for every supporter of cricket in New Zealand but I don’t think anyone could be too disappointed with that game,” he said.

He said the grit shown by his son in his match-winning innings of 84 not out “is part of his Kiwi make-up, so we can claim some part of it.”

Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said it ‘feels unfortunate’ the final was decided on boundaries scored but the Black Caps had to accept the rules.

He said the match also turned on several key moments, including a freak fielding deflection off Stokes’ bat that raced to the boundary and a missed opportunity for Trent Boult to catch the England batsman on the boundary.

“It’s going to be remembered for so many little moments and unfortunately all those little moments probably went against New Zealand,” he told ESPN.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019