The prime ministers of England and New Zealand lauded their cricket teams’ performance in the World Cup, which helped bring the sport into limelight in nations obsessed with football and rugby.
Prime Minister Theresa May thanked the England team for winning the showpiece and ending a 44-year wait.
“You have helped the nation fall in love with cricket once again,” May told the England players at her official residence 10 Downing Street, according to British media reports.
England celebrates World Cup triumph with young fans
“The final was not just cricket at its best but sport at its best - courage, character, sportsmanship, drama, incredible skill and even the odd slice of luck - all combining to create a real thriller, one of the great sporting spectacles of our time,” she added.
Football remains the most popular sport in England, while rugby has a loyal following in New Zealand but cricketers in both the countries have caught the public imagination following the pulsating World Cup summit clash.
In what is being hailed as the greatest World Cup final at Lord’s on Sunday, England were adjudged winners on the basis of their superior boundary count - 22 fours and two sixes -- to New Zealand’s 17 after the epic final, and the ensuing super over, ended in a tie.
May added, “It was a fitting end to what has been a great tournament - and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in once again making our country a sporting showcase for the world.”
New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern praised the Black Caps for putting their all on the line and then accepting the gut-wrenching defeat with grace.
“That was undeniably an incredible game. I think as a nation we all aged a year in that super over. Congratulations to England. And to the Black Caps, I feel nothing but pride. What a team,” wrote Ardern on Instagram.
- Homecoming on hold -
New Zealand Cricket said an immediate homecoming ceremony for the national team has been put on hold due to players arriving in batches at different times.
“We’ve been in conversations with the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Grant Robertson, and are mindful of the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for a welcome-home celebration,” NZC chief executive David White was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz.
“At the moment, however, with some players arriving back at different times, some not arriving back at all, and others having alternative playing commitments, it’s just not practical,” he added.
White acknowledged the calls from New Zealand public for a grand welcome ceremony befitting the team’s lion-hearted performance in the showpiece.
“Hopefully, given the interest surrounding this, we can organise something appropriate in the weeks to come.”
Opting to bat, New Zealand had put up a modest 241 for eight. In reply, England ended at the same score leading to the one-over eliminator.