CLIVE MASON/GETTY IMAGES
England’s Ben Stokes dives to make his ground during the World Cup final against New Zealand. The ball shot off his bat and went to the rope.
Renowned Kiwi cricket commentator Ian Smith can’t help but take some of the blame for the Black Caps’ agonising World Cup defeat (tie-breaker) to England in July.
The voice of New Zealand cricket has revealed he has a a guilty conscience for not knowing the intricacies of a law during one of the big moments in the epic final.
Speaking to The Guardian almost four months since the final, Smith is talking about the freakish occurrence when Martin Guptill’s throw from the deep struck a diving Ben Stokes’ bat and ran away to the rope.
“In all my time, playing and commentating, I have never seen anything like that. Myself, Nasser [Hussain], [Ian Bishop], the [statisticians] in the box,” Smith told The Guardian.
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“No one knew it should have been five [runs instead of six], and I still feel a wee bit guilty about this. Maybe if I had, I would have said it on air and it led to replays which might have forced someone’s hand.
“Maybe the third umpire would have clicked. But then no one knew. And it’s ironic, you know? The most important six of the entire tournament . . . and it went right along the ground.”
After the match was tied after the super over, but England were awarded the trophy on a boundary countback, it was confirmed five runs should have been given because the batsmen were still to cross at the point of Guptill’s release.
Yet the two on-field umpires, and their colleagues upstairs, were oblivious to it.
Smith, who was hailed for his commentary during the match, particularly the final moments, said the decider will never leave him.
“I think about that day at Lord’s quite a lot. It doesn’t dominate my life but it will never leave me. You could commentate on sport your whole life and never get a moment like that. My voice will be there for ever, I guess. It’s an honour . . . I just hope I got it right,” Smith told the Guardian.
The 62-year-old former New Zealand wicketkeeper also spoke about Sky Sport losing the broadcasting rights to home matches to Spark Sport after this summer, meaning his days calling the game could be numbered.
“I started playing in ’75, went straight into the commentary box: Christmas next year could be my first not working in 45 by the time I get there. I think my wife and I may get a caravan and head up the coast,” he told The Guardian.
“I don’t quite know how it will play out but I find it sad. Cricket has been ingrained in my life and in the last 20-odd years I never missed a session of test cricket at home. I’m very sad about it.”