, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
No doubt this picture - the moment England won the cricket World Cup (#CWC19) yesterday - will become iconic, a symbol of an extraordinary summer evening at the @HomeOfCricket. We will see it again and again. So it’s worth a closer look. 1/19
On the left, we can see half of Martin Guptill, the New Zealand opener, as he launches himself horizontally, bat outstretched, in a futile attempt to get back to his ground before the ball hits the stumps. 2/19
Guptill looks like the front half of a four-legged creature, a hyena perhaps, clutching a bat in his claws. Inevitably that gesture has echoes of the moment a few minutes earlier when Stokes, diving for his ground, had knocked the ball to the boundary for an unexpected four. 3/19
We can’t see the look on Guptill’s face but it must be some combination of desperation and exertion. He can see the World Cup tantalisingly out of reach, a few short metres away. He knows it has escaped. 4/19
This image is the one used by the third umpire to check that Guptill was run out, though there was never really any doubt - even I could see in real time that he was far short of the crease. 5/19
How heartbreaking for New Zealand to be that close to a World Cup. I wish they could somehow have won too. They deserved to. 6/19
On the right of the picture, Jos Buttler, the England wicket-keeper, has successfully caught the ball as it was returned from a fielder (interviewed later he couldn’t remember which one), and is using it to break the stumps and run Guptill out. 7/19
Buttler’s right leg is at full stretch behind him, his left bent almost double to allow him to get across and down to the stumps. He is like an uncoiling spring. 8/19
The middle stump is starting to move already, pushing off the bails, while the nearest stump is just starting to light up, to indicate that the bails have been dislodged: a symbol of cricket’s sometimes surprising willingness to innovate and do things in untraditional ways. 9/19
I’ve always thought that running someone out is one of the most awkward actions in cricket: the fielder has to catch the ball wherever it lands, then get or throw it to the stumps to knock the bails off, and do so under pressure in milliseconds to beat an oncoming batter. 10/19
But Buttler, who had presumably practised this action endlessly as part of the preparations that made the England team such a formidable presence in the field for most of the World Cup, makes it look easy, instinctive, nerveless. 11/19
We can just see that his mouth is slightly open, which might be the exertion of the moment or the start of an exuberant cheer that led him straight afterwards to run across the field, jubilantly hugging his victorious team-mates. 12/19
Notice too the lengthening shadows, indicating that it is a summer evening: a faint echo of that archetypal image of nostalgic Englishness, the thwack of leather on willow, cricket being being played on a village green as the shadows stretch. 13/19
Buttler’s own shadow extends behind him, as if taunting the batsman: you’re not that far away, you can almost touch my shadow. From this angle the shadow is, pleasingly, almost parallel with Guptill’s outstretched bat, illuminated along its top edge by that evening sun. 14/19
At the top of the picture the long shadow of a floodlight frames the image, dividing the breathless action we’re focused on from the garish adverts that adorn the field, cleverly designed to appear upright when viewed from the right camera angle. 15/19
Even though this tiny, epic battle came down to two players, as so often in cricket - which is an individual and a team sport in one - there are two small reminders in the image that there were others involved beyond Guptill and Buttler. 16/19
We can see, on the right, the tip of a shadow of another player intruding into the picture, the only evidence that a whole unseen fielding team had helped to make this moment. Seconds later they would be dancing and hugging together in disbelieving relief. 17/19
And finally, at the bottom right of the picture, we can see the umpire’s hat, apparently on its own watching the action, as if placed on the field just to give the image a surreal tinge. In fact, there was probably an umpire underneath it. 18/19
So drama, athleticism, desperation, tradition, innovation, emotion, all captured in one astonishing, unforgettable, eternal image. Enjoy.
@norcrosscricket 🏏⬆️
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