The final of the Cricket World Cup 2019 was one to remember. The players have already earned legendary status, and in my opinion none more than the Captain of the New Zealand cricket team, Kane Williamson. The match had everything: low scores (Yes, I seem to prefer this nowadays), an even contest between bat and ball, moments where each team had the upper hand, brilliant catches, water turning into wine – Yes, I’m referring to the two that turned into six, dubious umpiring decisions, a tie in regular time, a super over, a tie within a tie, heartbreak and ecstasy at the end of the hundred and second over, emotional fans, a relieved English side, and a deflated Kiwi team. It is safe to say that Cricket won the day, but alas so did its creators.
The moment the game ended there was an un/expected outburst on social media regarding the manner the winner was decided upon. From players to ex-players, from actors to politicians, from journalists to fans: no one could remain quiet. I, like many, believe in a match of this magnitude the trophy simply had to be shared. If the two teams could not be separated over hundred plus two overs, why separate them at all? But the reason the ridiculous boundary rule is part of cricketing laws is quite clearly a reflection of the human need to be competitive and win by overcoming the other. The need to have just ONE winner goes far beyond sport, far beyond cricket. The problem lies in the way we have been conditioned. Though many have suggested that the trophy should have been shared, this brilliant sign of ‘sportsmanship’ has emerged only after our compulsive need for ONE winner has been exposed.
Right from our childhood we are taught to be competitive either by having our (solo) achievements eulogized or having our failures and underachievements ridiculed. I remember meeting a disappointed individual a few years ago after he had learnt that he had to share an award with another. Does that mean the individual I met wasn’t any better than the one he had to share the award with? May be one of them was not competitive enough. Or, perhaps both never knew what it takes to be a winner. Sharing an award is often seen as a loss, much less a resounding victory.
The same logic can be applied to cricket as well. To arrive at a winner by any method, no matter how ridiculous that method may seem, had unfortunately taken precedence. The International Cricket Council, in ensuring a winner is found by any means possible, suggests that there can only be ONE at the top, and that sharing has no place in a competitive world. This in many ways distorts one’s understanding of competition, competitiveness, and sportsmanship.
New Zealand may not have got the support they have got had they lost (they didn’t lose) and England may not have received the praise they got had the trophy been shared. The margin between winning and losing, between praise and disapproval, between winning by the barest of margins and annihilating a team is really very small. Success is measured by separation – where one is above the other – and not by determination and perseverance. This is the sad state of the world we live in. The obsession with a single winner only confirms and reaffirms that the dividing line between failure and winning though small is a necessity. We need the wall that separates one from the other, from one’s skills and talents to those of the other’s, for only then can one truly and rightfully praise one’s achievements. Sharing the award is to dilute progress. Honestly, how pathetic have we become?
Some would say in the end, with all the writing and analyzing, the result will not change. True as it is, therein lies the problem. People’s continued questioning and criticism is not to ensure that the past result changes, but to ensure that a process is laid for a better and fairer future. And, if I may say, that applies to all of life. History cannot be changed, but one can do everything to ensure that history does not repeat itself. England are the 2019 World Champions and nothing can change that, but we can prepare ourselves for future ‘eventualities’ where we could be forced (or privileged) to witness not one but two winners. The trophy should have had two names on it, but alas it will have only one.