As the country froze one man held his nerve. Effortlessly he glided in, like a ship soaring across unruffled seas, Jofra Archer, a man who, just a year ago, no one in the country could have known might be here, delivering for England.
What faith in 24-year-old Archer, his first summer of international cricket and all of a sudden he had the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. A man who only the day before told the BBC he liked to “get my work done and then chill” was called upon by his captain to reverse that order.
And he needed as much chill as he could muster because the defence of 15 runs started in the worst possible fashion. Full, outside off — a dot ball, roared the crowd! No, umpire Kumar Dharmasena slowly, agonisingly, raised his arms from his side and a wide was called. Archer clutched his head in his hands. This wasn’t how it was meant to be. One run already before a ball had effectively been bowled.
Start again, reset. Eoin Morgan rushes over with an arm around his shoulder. It does the trick. What a great length. Yorker! Down to long off. They’re coming back for two, yes they are! Three from effectively one. It’s okay. England defending 15, remember.
Right, here he goes again, second ball and oh no! My goodness he’s heaved it for six. Jimmy Neesham has smashed it into the Mound Stand. It’s in the second tier! Archer, missing his length by an inch. It’s gone miles!!! New Zealand have got nine from two. They need seven from four. It’s so, so cruel.
But he has to continue. A deep sigh, a full delivery, they shouldn’t get two. But they do! It’s out to mid-wicket and it’s a fumble! No way. They’ve come back for two! Five needed from three.
Fourth ball. Another two! New Zealand can do it in twos. Surely it’s all over for England. It’s straighter, Jason Roy again the fielder at mid-wicket and New Zealand have made their ground again. New Zealand have thirteen from four. They need just three from two to win.
“Don’t rule out the tie,” quips Michael Vaughan on commentary.
It’s short! It’s quick, too quick and it’s a toe-end from Neesham! Just the one run. “Don’t throw it, don’t throw it!” screams the crowd. Archer holds it. New Zealand need two to win from the final ball and one to tie. But tie it and England win on more boundaries scored over the course of the match! What is this rule? Who made this up, can you imagine winning on this odd, odd rule? We have to — it’s beyond anyone’s control now.
Here he goes. How on earth has it come down to this? The last ball of the World Cup final. Deathly silence, just the glide-like run of Archer. It’s full, Martin Guptill has clipped it off his legs, it’s out to mid-wicket, they have to come back for two. The throw comes in, it’s wide to the keeper and Buttler has work to do but he’s done it! Has he? The bails are off, the lights are on and Archer is off, tearing across the outfield in celebration. Imran Tahir eat your heart out because there is no man stopping Archer.
Jofra Archer, England’s hero. No one knows what to do, where to run, how to celebrate. It’s Archer’s ball, Archer’s day, Archer’s World Cup. And my goodness has he hit the bullseye.
Ball one Ben Stokes smears Trent Boult’s delivery off the outside edge and somehow England run three down to third man. Three on the board, and the exhausted man off strike.
Ball two Hard flat strike from Jos Buttler out to midwicket for just one.
Ball three Stokes gets down on one knee and thrashes the ball hard and true to the midwicket fence. Amazing placement with that sweep.
Ball four It is drilled hard by Stokes into the offside but it is stopped.
Ball five Yorker. Buttler gets something on it and Henry Nicholls loses it in the sun and the England pair hurry for two. Ball six Boult goes for a yorker but it is a low full toss. Buttler gets it through at midwicket. Four off that last ball and 15 off the over.
New Zealand batting
Ball one New Zealand must score 16 to win, 15 or less and England are champions. Jofra Archer’s first ball is a wide outside the off stump. Eoin Morgan swaps with Joe Root and goes to field at mid off. 15 the target.
Ball one A fine yorker but James Neesham digs it out and New Zealand get two down the ground. 13 needed.
Ball two Neesham gets back in the crease and wallops it for six. Seven runs needed off four more balls.
Ball three Neesham smears it. Jason Roy fields in the deep. He misfields. New Zealand run two. 11 runs scored so far, five needed off three.
Ball four Neesham hits into the deep, and he and Martin Guptill turn for two. Guptill is running his heart out. He has beaten the throw. Three needed from two balls.
Ball five Shorter ball. Archer digs it in. Neesham hooks but does not get hold of it. The Kiwis scamper one.
Ball six It all comes down to this. Guptill needs to score two runs to win the World Cup. It is a short ball from Archer but Guptill hits it it out into the deep. The throw comes in from Roy. New Zealand turn for the second. Buttler gathers and whips off the bails. Run out!
England win the World Cup!
• A version of this article was originally printed in The Telegraph on 14 July 2019.