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What the luck! New Zealand, and the randomness of life (or a World Cup final)

The way the World Cup final ended highlighted the deep sense of New Zealand's loss and the cruelty of it all

Kane Williamson is a beautiful man, we are all agreed on this. He is also, possibly, not human. Who knows how long it was after the end of a World Cup final that he and his side didn't lose, twice, that he turned up to try and make sense of a game that may never make sense to anybody, not those who played it, not those who witnessed it, and not those tasked to document it? But he tried, which is what makes him not human.
Because if he was like you and I, he may not have turned up for a start. Why would you when you have not lost a World Cup final and are still not the world champions? Forget the boundary rule that deemed England to be world champions because that came long after all the things that happened meant New Zealand didn't win the match outright. No, he turned up, smiling, and refused once to use the word most responsible for New Zealand not being world champions. He played all around the word, like he almost never does a ball with bat in hand. He went this way, by calling it "the uncontrollable". He went that way with "thin margins".
"Just one of those things."
"One of those days."
"Reeling from those thin margins."
"It's a fickle game, parts where as hard as you try, cards don't fall your way."
"You have small margins like that, other human decisions that can go one way or another. Number of other parts in that match that could've snuck our way."
One of those things, Kane? One of those things? The word he didn't use was 'luck' and luck is really the only reason Williamson and New Zealand are not world champions right now. Because, if it isn't luck that a little white leather globe no more than nine inches in circumference thrown from the deep midwicket boundary 60 to 70 metres away hits a moving piece of willow that may be no more than 38 inches in length and no more than 4.25 inches wide held by a human being diving to the ground and deflects off it, with enough speed, to an area of the field that is not patrolled by one of 11 men and goes for four, then what really is luck? And if it turns out that it should've been five runs instead of six because one umpire interpreted a rule concerning precisely such acts incorrectly? What is it?
You can plan, analyse, mine crazy data that helps you understand so much more but you can't do jack about luck. Luck happens to you, you don't happen to it. The harder I practice the luckier I get? Tell that to New Zealand tonight and see how much weight it holds
That doesn't happen, and England need seven off two to win and not three off two. This is a massive planet, and there's a hell of a lot of sports played out there and a hell of a lot more moments of luck that go into deciding contests within those sports. But if there has occurred a single bigger slice of luck to decisively change the fortune of such a massive game, in a global tournament, so late in the game, then it didn't occur on this planet. Or this universe. Or this galaxy.
If ever there was a day to believe in the randomness of life, that things just happen and they don't necessarily happen for a reason, this was that day. S*** happens and, at the end of it, it's lucky for someone and unlucky for someone else, and sometimes it's nothing for nobody and passes by unnoticed.
We make sense of it - we simplify it as much as we can actually - by doing the only thing we can, which is to articulate it in words and call it luck. And luck is not discerning. It is random. We strive most of our lives to eliminate luck from it. Professional sport is actually a collective and organised pursuit basically of eliminating luck and this pursuit is carried out knowing it is impossible, ultimately, to eliminate it totally.
Athletes prepare their entire lives to be elite. Those hours in the gym, those hours away from family, those broken bones and pulled muscles and those hours - all of this is to eliminate luck as much as possible.
You can analyse events down to their minutest detail. This happened because he did this and he did that and next time he did this and he did that and something else happened. You can plan, analyse, mine crazy data that helps you understand so much more but you can't do jack about luck. Luck happens to you, you don't happen to it. The harder I practice the luckier I get? Tell that to New Zealand tonight and see how much weight it holds.
Tell that to New Zealand about the umpires call from Marius Erasmus that didn't go their way off the very first ball of the innings they bowled. Or about the incorrect call by the same umpire that saw the back of Ross Taylor.
Tell that to Matt Henry for those magnificent opening overs of his, in which he beat the bat repeatedly but only found an edge that carried to the wicketkeeper once because it is luck that separates an edge found from an edge missed. Another day, Shaheen Shah Afridi beat the bat nearly as often against New Zealand and found the edge thrice. Another day, semi-final day in fact, Henry beat the bat as often and found the edge multiple times.
Tell that to Jimmy Neesham and Lockie Ferguson, whose slower balls lobbed up in the air off the bats of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, without control, but landed in areas between two fielders. Tell that to the entire New Zealand attack who found the inside edge or inside half of English bats at least six times but found that inside edge to hit the stumps just once.
You know who did use that word? Eoin Morgan, in his very first response. It meant everything to his team and everybody who had been planned to win the tournament, the planning, the hard work, the dedication, the commitment. "and the little bit of luck today really did get us over the line".
After the win, Adil Rashid told Morgan that Allah was with them. Morgan said it was the rub of the green, which, primarily, underlines the happy diversity in that dressing room. And it takes nothing away from England's triumph, but only underscores the deep sense of New Zealand's loss and the cruelty of it all. That and also that the beneficiaries of luck have the luxury of calling it whatever they want.

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo