Third Test, Day 5: This is the end

After an extra half an hour on Day 4 stumps were called with the West Indies 51 runs short of a potentially transformational victory. Australia on the other hand were a solitary wicket away from a flattering victory. Day 5 was set up. The potential of a grand stand finish was just as strong as a first ball flop and it got me thinking, we’ve been here before and it didn’t end so well.

Flash back to Edgbaston 2005, late on Day 4 Michael Kasprowicz strides to the crease as the final wicket to join Brett Lee with Australia 64 runs down chasing 282 to win. Kasper a late addition due to Glenn McGrath rolling his ankle in the warm up survives ball after ball from Harmison, Flintoff and Giles as the target is continually narrowed.

I remember the evening well, I lived at Bruce Hall (a university residence) at the time and with Kasprowicz and Lee gradually reducing the target. I was called into a meeting with Australia about 30 runs short. As the meeting was wrapping up a single student burst into the room yelling “he’s out, he’s out”. I flew out of my chair and ran into the Buttery, watching with shock and horror as Kasprowicz gloves a short ball down leg side to ensure that Australia would fall 2 runs short. It’s then that I hear The Doors playing from the speakers in the bar:

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end”

Indeed it was. England went on to win the Ashes and this moment swung the series their way. Had this occurred today, the decision would have been overturned as Kasprowicz’s glove was off the bat handle when it hit him. Whether or not Australia would have got the final runs we will never know.

Now 4 years later I awaited the start of Day 5 and that song comes back into my mind.

“Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free”

Kemar Roach and Gavin Tonge came to the crease chasing a total higher than their cumulative test runs to date and walk back onto the ground 29 runs down with 51 to go and picturing glory.

The Australians however are taking their own lines

“The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall”

Roach negotiates the first ball and we are away. Watson teases as Roach repeatedly plays and misses. Ian Healy informs us that Tim Nielsen has had trouble motivating the players this morning and I worry that the Australians believe the game is over already. Bollinger gives up 5 in his first over but not without drama as 2 shots are lofted through gully. The West Indies need 46 to win.

Tonge French cuts Watson for four through fine leg and follows it up with a cracking square drive. A lofted drive just clears mid off and the target falls to 40. Roach cuts Bollinger for 4 but next ball Bollinger elicits what Bowden believes is the faintest of edges from his bat. Roach immediately appeals the decision. Hot spot shows no edge, the seam of the ball does not variate. The consensus in the living room is that the call should be over turned. Somewhat controversially it isn’t and we can’t work out why. Australia win by 36 runs but again I’m drawn back to that song

“C’mon, yeah
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end”

This is the end. Not just of the series but I dare say of the replay system as we know it.

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end”

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Tim

    I didn’t see the telecast, but find the statement from Healy a little mind boggling. The notion that a team one wicket from victory would need motivating by any one seems worrying at least. The idea that the coach would be motivator rather than the skipper is also curious.

    There is much about the current Australian dressing room that seems a mystery.

  2. It was a strange moment indeed John, he mentioned that he’d talked with Nielsen before the first ball where Nielsen had mentioned the lethargy and lack of focus.

    All indications at the moment are that Pakistan will give us a bit of a rude shock I feel.

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