LAWRENCE BOOTH: The poignant stories of sacrifice and glory are the perfect motivation for England… only four players from THAT World Cup final at Lord’s will play in Pakistan, but the memories of that day will resonate with everyone.
- Newly released film documents England’s beating of New Zealand in 2019
- Entitled ‘The Greatest Game’, it documents the rise of each player up to that point.
- More and more the side of the white ball is stripping those who played in the 2019 victory
- The messages within it are still always relevant and would provide some motivation.
If England’s cricketers need extra motivation in their quest to become the first team to hold the World Cups in one day and T20 at the same time, they could do worse than watch The Greatest Game, an excellent Sky Sports documentary. about their unforgettable victory over New Zealand in 2019.
With Mark Wood struggling for form, only four players from that incredibly tense day at Lord’s are likely to line up for Sunday’s T20 clash with Pakistan in Melbourne: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes.
But the film, the brainchild of broadcaster and former Middlesex closer Simon Hughes, and directed by Ashley Gething, will resonate with everyone. It may even move them to tears.
If Jos Buttler’s side needed any motivation for Sunday, they would be well placed to watch ‘The Greatest Game’ documentary.
At the heart of the story are the sacrifices made by the players’ parents and childhood coaches. It’s almost enough to persuade you that all roads really do lead to an afternoon.
Jody Morgan, standing with her son, Eoin, near their home in Dublin, struggles to control her emotions as she reflects on life in a “crazy” cricket family. “We’re prouder than we know,” she says, as her iceman offspring momentarily thaws.
In Barbados, Joelle Waithe, mother of Jofra Archer, admits she was “almost in tears” when New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham lifted her son for six in the super over. Shortly after, she and Jofra happily pose with the trophy.
The documentary follows the players and their families on a day that English cricket will hardly forget.
Jason Roy talks about being sidelined from his surfing education in Durban because his parents wanted a fresh start in England. Rashid calls his commitment to Islam a “turning point in my life.” After that, ‘the cricket took care of itself’.
The film’s emphasis on diversity will no doubt infuriate some, but Morgan explains how he relied on it to ease the tension when England took the field before the super final. When Buttler wondered if he had any spare clubs, Morgan turned to Rashid and asked, ‘Allah is with us, isn’t He?’
The 2022 vintage retains its international flavour. Stokes was born in New Zealand and Chris Jordan in Barbados, where Welshman Phil Salt grew up. Both Rashid and his close friend Moeen Ali are of Pakistani descent. Although born in Northampton, Sam Curran grew up on the family farm in Zimbabwe.
Eoin Morgan, the now-deceased captain, asked Buttler if Allah was with them, referring to Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, two devout Muslims, who were standing by.
Morgan’s mantra of three years ago, ‘courage, unity, respect’, is still relevant.
So do the words of then manager Trevor Bayliss as England celebrated their semi-final win over their native Australia at Edgbaston. “I’ll tell you now why the Aussies think England don’t win the finals,” he tells a hushed dressing room. ‘You win the semi-final and you think you’ve won it.’
The film cuts to Stokes: ‘Shit yeah, good point.’ There will be no problem reminding players of this before they enter the MCG.
The Greatest Game is on the Sky Sport cricket channel on Saturday and is also available to catch up.
The film shows the importance of diversity for the 2019 team and how it helped their victory.