Triple H honours England's World Cup winners with WWE title belt - but who gets to keep it?

By Sports Desk July 19, 2019

England's triumphant squad have received plenty of praise since lifting the Cricket World Cup - and now they have been honoured with a one-of-a-kind championship belt from an unlikely fan.

As a 14-time champion, WWE superstar Triple H knows a thing or two about winning in big situations. And the man with a finishing move called the 'Pedigree' was certainly impressed with the standards shown by Eoin Morgan's side against New Zealand on Sunday, when the tournament hosts prevailed following a dramatic Super Over at the home of cricket.

The wrestler, whose real name is Paul Levesque, tweeted out a message of congratulations to the new ODI champions, along with a picture of a customised world heavyweight championship belt made to mark their success.

"An incredible tournament, an awe-inspiring final, and a team of worthy champions. Congratulations to England Cricket for winning the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019! This custom WWE Championship is YOURS!" Triple H wrote.

The unique strap includes the words "World Cup champions", with the England and Wales Cricket Board's official logo appearing twice, placed either side of the central WWE badge.

However, the generous gift to mark England's achievement does create a problem - who gets to keep it?

Jos Buttler, who was in partnership with Ben Stokes in the middle during England's Super Over, had an on-topic suggestion to decide the owner, tweeting: "Royal rumble lads last man standing keeps the belt?" 

If Buttler's idea comes to fruition, Morgan and his team-mates would have to forget about boundary ropes and focus on the top rope instead. Perhaps Triple H could make an appearance during the upcoming Ashes series against Australia to crown England's new wrestling champion, too.

The Game at a game of cricket? We can only hope...

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    An intriguing finish to the second Test at Lord's was in store when England declared on 258-5 in the second session, setting Australia 267 to win or bat out the final 48 overs for a draw on Sunday.

    It was the latter scenario which came to fruition as the tourists, missing Steve Smith because of the concussion he suffered following an Archer bouncer, batted out for a draw, meaning Tim Paine's side retained a 1-0 lead in the series.

    However, in Archer – who returned match figures of 5-91 from a heavy workload of 44 overs – England have fresh optimism heading into the third Test at Headingley, with Smith's availability for an encounter that begins on Thursday in "serious doubt".

    "He's come in and he really has made a massive impact, added a different dynamic to our bowling group," Root said at a news conference.

    "I think [he] has given Australia something different to think about so it's really pleasing to see someone come in on Test debut and really shake up things and live up to the hype, even some of the hype that he put on himself.

    "It's really pleasing to see and it makes for a very interesting last three games."

    It was one of Archer's rockets that clattered into Smith's neck and knocked Australia's talisman down on Saturday.

    Though Smith returned to complete his innings later that day, Australia announced on Sunday that he would play no further part at Lord's having shown concussion symptoms when he woke up.

    Smith's concussion replacement in their XI, Marnus Labuschagne, then copped another vicious delivery on the helmet grille from Archer, who had sent back David Warner and Usman Khawaja inside the opening six overs.

    Labuschagne survived that onslaught and went on to make a crucial 59, but Root feels Barbados-born seamer Archer can be instrumental as his side seek to retain the urn.

    "He makes things happen when not many others in world cricket can," Root added.

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    "It will make them think about what way they're going to combat how he's going to come at them.

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    Paine's team were set 267 to win inside 48 overs on the final day at Lord's after the hosts declared on 258-5 following a century from Ben Stokes (115 not out).

    However, they were more concerned with batting out the day when Jofra Archer swiftly removed David Warner and Usman Khawaja to bring Labuschagne to the crease.

    The 25-year-old was only thrust into the action as the first concussion substitute in Test history after Smith withdrew having been struck on the neck on Saturday by a bouncer from Archer, who then delivered a 91.6 miles-per-hour rocket that flew into Labuschagne's helmet grille and knocked him to the ground.

    After receiving treatment on the field, Labuschagne went on to make a valuable 59, sharing an 85-run stand with Travis Head (42 not out) that took the game beyond England's reach – Australia eventually finishing with 154-6 to retain their 1-0 series lead.

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    Smith had returned to bat on Saturday following assessment from Australia's medical staff, yet it was confirmed on the final day that he would play no further part in the Test having displayed concussion symptoms in the morning.

    Australia have said it is unlikely that their talismanic batsman will feature in the third Test, which begins at Headingley on Thursday.

    "He's okay," Paine revealed.

    "Obviously it was a really nasty knock. He felt okay yesterday and then, as concussions tend to be, [the symptoms were] delayed. He woke up, not feeling at his best today, so the decision was made to leave him out."

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    An intriguing, rain-affected encounter at Lord's concluded with neither side able to forge a positive result, despite England bidding to force the issue when declaring on 258-5 in the second session after Ben Stokes (115 not out) had posted a century.

    Joe Root's attack had enough incentive with 48 overs remaining, while a target of 267 was also encouraging for the tourists, even if Smith was unavailable having displayed concussion symptoms on Sunday after copping an Archer bouncer on the third day.

    Archer (3-32) dismissed David Warner and Usman Khawaja inside the opening six overs, but Smith's concussion replacement Marnus Labuschagne's gritty half-century effectively ended England's hopes, despite Jack Leach (3-37) striking with back-to-back deliveries and Joe Denly's brilliant catch, as Australia ended on 154-6.

    Rain prevented play from starting for 70 minutes, Stokes and Jos Buttler (31) continuing their fifth-wicket stand in the first session to increase England's lead to 165.

    Buttler top-edged Pat Cummins (3-35) to Josh Hazlewood at long leg after lunch before Stokes, then on 55, survived a review following an lbw appeal from Nathan Lyon.

    Alongside Jonny Bairstow (30 not out), Stokes pushed on, dispatching Lyon over the ropes from successive deliveries as the advantage increased past 200.

    A single to square leg gave Stokes his seventh Test century and Root called his batsmen in at the end of the following over to give Archer and his bowling colleagues an opportunity to level the series.

    Archer provided early optimism when he snared Warner (5), who prodded to Rory Burns at gully to continue his dreadful Ashes, and then drew the edge of Khawaja (2), bringing Labuschagne, the first concussion substitute in Test history, to the crease.

    There was no gentle introduction to Archer's searing speed as Labuschagne was caught flush on the helmet grille from his second delivery, a 91.6mph rocket that knocked him off his feet before he bolted back up.

    Cameron Bancroft (16) was trapped in front by Leach but Labuschagne and Travis Head put on 85, with second slip Jason Roy shelling a chance to remove the latter when the alliance was worth 49.

    Labuschagne (59) evntually fell in controversial circumstances, Root diving forward at midwicket to take a catch and benefitting from a soft signal of out when replays proved inconclusive.

    As he walked off, the batsman expressed his disapproval to England's captain, whose team were soon celebrating again when Matthew Wade picked out short leg from Leach's next ball.

    That gave the spinner three wickets - and Archer matched that total when Denly produced a fantastic one-handed catch to remove Tim Paine - but Head (42 not out) and Cummins (1 not out) ensured Australia held on.

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