What an awesome game!

Posted: September 26, 2004 in Uncategorized

SO you thought that if Australia, India or Pakistan were not in the finals, it could not be much of a game, right? I thought so too. Inspite of it being a Saturday, I made no serious attempt to reach home early to catch more of the game. I reached when West Indies were struggling to stay in the game. Only Chanderpaul remained between England and victory. I was hoping for a Windies win (since then I have met so many people and found NONE to have wanted England to win!). They are a colourful lot. I like guys like Gayle, Sarawan and the Windies’ Dravid, Chanderpaul. And we all hate the Poms, for no particular reason.. perhaps, just the hangover of the East India company’s days from centuries back! So I was feeling bad that West Indies seemed like they were heading for a loss. Was also wondering if this will finally be England’s first victory in a multi-nation tournament (for being the originators of cricket, they have not won the world cup ever!). But like we always hope as long as Dravid is around, so I hoped on, as Chanderpaul seemed like hanging in there. The target was not large and if they got close, they would have a chance. Perhaps Ricardo Powell would smash out 40-50 runs, if they got that close.

But then, Powell and Chanderpaul both got out, and it was 147 for 8. I started switching channels and kept reverting to the game only to check if it was over yet or not. But then the unbelievable started happening.

Bradshaw and Brown batted so well. They middled everything (so much for the devil in the pitch). They batted with utmost composure and had absolutely no problems at all. No playing and missing, no random shots, no real ‘luck’ factor. They did not run like madmen.. they took singles and twos and these were always very well run with no risk at all. They appeared to be in command like two accomplished batsmen, in form. Slowly but surely, they kept running out the overs and did not get out. And kept making runs, to keep the target always comfortably in sight. The perfect chase of this total, as a coach would have told batsmen to do.. only these guys were nos. 9 and 10, and no great batsmen in terms of international reputation.

They saw out the part time bowlers like Trestowick and Collingwood, without much problem. With almost 70 to get since they got together, the English captain did not think of calling his only specialist spinner to bowl, as he figured that where the top batsmen have not survived the pacers and the seamers, what are these two going to do. At most, there will be a little delay, but nobody can deny us victory now, he must have figured. And so he did not think of getting Giles, the spinner, on, when WI was in the 140s to 160s. As the Windies inched closer to their target of 217, it was getting too late to give a first bowl to a slow bowler. If at that late stage, the bowler bowled like a 20 run over, it would be all over then. So he lost the opportunity to bring the spinner on. Whether it would have made any difference or not is hard to say. These guys were batting so well, and the pitch was clearly benefiting the seam bowlers, so the spinner may have made little difference. Except that we would never know now, as Vaughan did not put him on at all.

Gough had a bad day and he was easily seen through by these two guys. Desperate to get a break, Vaughan brought on his star bowler Harmisson who had 3 overs left to bowl. And Harmisson gave his all to the ball. He bowled his fastest of the game, including the fastest ball of the tournament, at around 97 mph. It was a vicious yorker to boot. And guess what.. it was aniticipated well, and it was dug out most creditably! No problem at all! Vaughan chose to bowl Harmission through.. and they saw out his 3 overs, and rejoiced a bit. Then Vaughan brought on his second big weapon Flintoff, who had also got big wickets earlier in the day. These two batters put that extra level of concentration and saw Flintoff through as well, with little problem. And at that point with about 3-4 overs to go, the batters pumped the air. They knew that they had seen off the biggest challenges.

In between, while all this action was going on, the light kept deteriorating. Ultimately the umpires had no choice but to offer the light to the batsmen, and they could have chosen to go into the pavilion at that point of time. It was about 170-180 or so, at that time. But these number 9 and 10 batsmen said NO to the offer. They chose to stay on the crease, and face Harmisson hammering away hard and fast at them, even as the light was so poor.

With those kinds of guts, they really shook the English guys out, and ultimately managed to take the team through to victory, with more than an over to spare.

Awesome victory!

For the first time, I got so involved in the game, even though India was not playing. A wicket could have put England close to victory. And it requires only one ball to get a wicket. I had goosebumps and my heart was in my mouth, as I saw these two guys battle away. And they did not lose a wicket nor did they give a chance. A thoroughly professional approach that one would expect from top class batsmen!

Found out later that Brown has been recently reinstated into the team, as WK, and that he is a very mature player and captain of Barbados. It appears that he also has a role to play in motivating the younger players of the team, in general. And he was there at the crease, guiding his team to victory. Bradshaw is also from Barbados and a good friend of Brown.

In the post match interview, Brown said that he wanted to stay with Chanderpaul first, as he had all confidence in Chanderpaul. But when Chanderpaul got out and Bradshaw came in, he said that he had confidence in Bradshaw as well, as he knows his capabilities well. And how true it turned out to be.

Bradshaw was the Man of the Match, and in his interview he said that they aimed to see off Harmisson and Flintoff, as they knew that thereafter, they had a good chance. He also mentioned that when the light was offered to them, they realised that the momentum was with them, so why go in, and lose that momentum. Moreover, the ball was still quite visible, and so they chose to stay on the wicket. What a fantastic decision, it was!

If I say that Indians have a lot to learn from these guys, it will be a question of only one game to judge from. But the performance was something that all players in the world could take inspiration from. Hats off to the Windies…

How happy they looked after the game, how much fun they were having on the ground, dancing and rolling over, and doing all kinds of stunts. The typical Caribbean free spirit of old. Good to see that again…

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Comments
  1. RPM says:

    Isn’t it amazin – the spirit, the fun, the enjoyment? It only comes when you truly enjoy your cricket. West Indies has endured too much for too long. It could well turn out to be a fluke victory, but it is something that will stay in each and every players’ minds for a long long time to come.

    And of course, the Indians have a LOT to learn from these guys. Nothing can be said until the last ball is bowled. The team with the higher score at the end, wins. It is not all about hitting out and making the headlines. It is about slowly and steadily coming close to the target and eventually overtaking it.

    Congratulations, West Indies. Good show!

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