By Niall Anderson in London
The Black Caps have been left surprised by the revelation of a little-known rule that proves the umpires made a critical mistake in the dying moments of Cricket World Cup final.
Former top umpire Simon Taufel revealed that under Law 19.8, pertaining to an "overthrow or wilful act of fielder", England's Ben Stokes should only have been credited for five runs when Martin Guptill's throw deflected off his bat and to the boundary on the third-to-last ball of their innings against New Zealand at Lord's.
Stokes was attempting to complete a second run when Guptill's attempted runout took a remarkably cruel deflection, rolling away for another four runs to hugely increase England's chances of winning. Umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus deliberated on the issue, ruling that Stokes would receive six runs, which left England requiring just three runs from two balls.
However, Taufel pointed out that their decision was a mistake, and Stokes shouldn't have been attributed with having completed the second run.
"There was a judgment error on the overthrow," Taufel told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
"The act of the overthrow starts when the fielder releases the ball. It becomes an overthrow from the instant of the throw.
"They did not cross on their second run, at the instant of the throw. So given that scenario, five runs should have been the correct allocation of runs, and Ben Stokes should have been at the non-striker's end for the next delivery."
That would have left England's No 10 batsman Adil Rashid on strike, needing four runs from two balls – a trickier task than what eventuated, with Stokes requiring three off two balls.
As it happened, Stokes could only muster two runs from Trent Boult's final two balls, and the game went to a Super Over, and eventually ended on a now infamous tiebreaker ruling, with England winning the Cup thanks to hitting more boundaries in the match.
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson was left to lament the incorrect overthrow decision as one of many "what ifs" that resulted from the incredible finale.
"I actually wasn't aware of the finer rule at that point in time, obviously you trust in the umpires and what they do. I guess you throw that in the mix of a few hundred other things that may have been different."
When informed of the finer details of the ruling, neither Black Caps coach Gary Stead or batting coach Craig McMillan were aware that England were erroneously given an extra run.
"The umpires are there to rule and they're human as well, like players, sometimes errors are made," rationalised Stead. "That's just the human nature of sport, and why we care so much about it as well."
"I didn't know that rule, to be perfectly honest," added McMillan.
"I've played a lot of games of cricket, watched a lot of cricket and overthrows have always been added to what's been run, as opposed to the point of the throw coming in."
With the rule now in the limelight – as well as several others after the barely believable finish to the match – there's likely to be plenty of debate and calls for change.
But at this moment, for McMillan – and undoubtedly for the Black Caps - there's only one thing that ultimately matters.
"It doesn't change the result yesterday."