The men’s cricket team of New Zealand was felicitated with the International Cricket Council’s Spirit of Cricket award. They won the recognition for their extremely professional and ‘sporting conduct’ following that heartbreaking and dramatic loss to England in the 2019 World Cup final. Named in the memory of BBC broadcaster Christopher Martin-Jenkins, the trophy is awarded to the player or the team that is found to best uphold the ‘Spirit of the Game’ which involves respecting one’s opponents, their own captain and the team and respecting the role of umpires and the traditional values that surround the game of cricket.
Kane Williamson and his men were tied on the scoreboard with England after the regular 50 overs of the game and even a Super Over tiebreaker couldn’t separate the two sides. However, New Zealand had to concede the title in dramatic and heart-breaking circumstances on account of having hit fewer boundaries in the Super Over. The iconic final was also shrouded and marred in controversy by a questionable on-field call of awarding an additional overthrow run despite the two batsmen not having crossed at the time of release by the fielder. New Zealand neither protested vociferously nor did they lead any appeals in the aftermath of the loss in the final and Williamson and his team were universally lauded for their grace and humility.
“The New Zealand team are worthy winners of this award. In the heat of battle, they displayed a level of sportsmanship that was fitting for such a fantastic finale, and indeed tournament,” MCC president Kumar Sangakkara said. “It is a testament to their squad that even after a match that will live long in the memory for the cricket that was played, we are still talking about the Spirit of Cricket. Their actions deserve this recognition.”
The new trophy, instituted by the Marylebone Cricket Club in 2013, was handed to Williamson during the just-concluded Hamilton Test against England. New Zealand had their retribution against their nemeses in the World Cup final, England by winning the Test series at England 1-0 which concluded with the draw in Hamilton.
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