Kiwi fans on the outer for thrilling cricket finale


15th July, 2019 01:52:40 printer

Kiwi fans on the outer for thrilling cricket finale

New Zealand cricket fans watched the Black Caps succumb to England in a nerve-shredding Cricket World Cup final Monday, but the country's sports bars were closed as the match reached its climax.

The match was played in the dead of night in New Zealand, starting at 10:15pm Sunday and ending around 6:30am Monday when the Black Caps lost in the final ball of an extra-time Super Over.

The pain for Kiwi fans was magnified by the fact that the country's strict licencing laws meant bars closed at 4am, more than two hours before the finale.

"How can they force us to leave now -- unbelievable," James Hewitt-Long told AFP from a central Wellington pub when he had to leave at 4am when New Zealand's bowling attack was on the charge.

"We've got to decide what to do now. We can watch it at my mate's work but it's not going to have the same atmosphere."

The problem was that New Zealand's licencing laws require a special one-off dispensation for all-night events, but no bars applied for any because they had written off the Black Caps' prospects.

Wearing a vintage 'Beige Brigade' New Zealand shirt at the Four Kings sports bar in central Wellington, Abi Thomas was hyped and optimistic before play commenced.

"I can't sit down, I'm too nervous," she said.

"It's going to be a long night but I had a good two-hour nap this afternoon, so I should be OK."

'Sense of occasion'

Despite the punishing viewing times, Thomas said she decided to go out and watch the match, rather than stay at home, because she wanted to share the moment with fellow fans.

"It's nice to be around people who are enjoying it as well, it's a sense of occasion, but I think I'll be heading off to watch the end at home, whatever way that goes," she said.

There were groans when out-of-form opening batsman Martin Guptill played a swing and a miss off Chris Woakes' first-ball wide, followed by whoops when he stroked the first boundary of the match.

The time difference meant that as the players at Lord's took a morning tea break, one table of a revellers half a world away in Wellington were lining up their first shots of the night.

The ebullient mood dissipated as a steady stream of New Zealand wickets fell, although a Tom Latham six was enough to prompt a round of table-thumping celebrations.

The crowd thinned out considerably when New Zealand's innings finished around 1:40am Monday with the Black Caps setting the hosts a modest, but defendable, target of 242.

"I'll catch the second innings in bed. I'm working tomorrow about 8:00am," said Thomas Osborne before he trudged into a Wellington winter night.

"I stopped drinking a couple of hours ago and got on the lemonade."

Others, such as Mike Brophy, decided to push on through the night with the aid of energy drinks or coffee.

"We've got one of the best attacks in the world so I still have high confidence," he said.

'You can't just sit at home on the couch and watch the cricket, want to be here with your friends drinking and seeing the highs and the lows."

Brophy's assessment proved accurate, the Black Caps pushed England to the limit, tying the match and the Super Over, only to lose on total boundaries hit.

The other problem was, there was no one in the city centre to see it.