Monday, June 20, 2005

Oh, this best of all possible worlds

England leave Australia in turmoil
Mike Selvey in Bristol
Monday June 20, 2005
The Guardian

Kevin Pietersen, surfing a monster wave of adrenalin, almost single-handedly drove England to a dramatic victory yesterday in a match that had seemed beyond them until a final devastating assault brought 39 runs from four overs.

Pietersen, with immaculate planning and ruthless efficiency, bludgeoned Australia's bowling into submission, scoring an unbeaten 91 from 65 balls, with eight fours and four vast sixes. Each six was struck with immense power, three of them over long-on and another swung high over square-leg. This is an absolutely outstanding player.

England had been asked to score 253 to win - three more than Bangladesh had made to beat Australia the previous day - and at 214 for six, with seven overs remaining and the great new-ball pairing of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie poised to bowl, the game appeared to be up.
Instead Pietersen found an ally in the local boy Jon Lewis. The Gloucestershire bowler kept an end up, nudging his singles and giving the strike to his partner, who responded by setting himself in a wide stance and simply blasting Gillespie into oblivion, so that the Australian was left bemused and shaking his head as he soaked up the derision of the delirious crowd.

Even when the target had come down to the sort of proportions where something more circumspect might have seemed the best tactic, Pietersen stayed true to himself and fired away regardless. It was his game to win or lose and he was going to do it his way. In the end there were still 15 balls left when Lewis, with a nice sense of occasion, nudged the winning run to third man. It was not even close.


Australia are now officially in disarray, with four matches lost in a row, each of increasing importance. This game may have been inconsequential in terms of the eventual outcome of the NatWest Series since, barring more miracles by Bangladesh, England and Australia will meet in the final at Lord's on Saturday week but the result has massive implications.

This was the match in which Australia were going to come back hard after the embarrassments earlier in the week. But they did not carry the air of a side in harmony, unavoidably arriving later than they would have liked and then announcing that their key all-rounder Andrew Symonds had been keeping milkman's hours and would miss yesterday's game in addition to that on Saturday in Cardiff.

Instead England laid down a marker for the rest of the summer: first through Steve Harmison, who conjured up his finest one-day bowling figures, then through Michael Vaughan, who scrapped hard for a half-century that steadied his side, and then Pietersen.

There was also a catch by Paul Collingwood the like of which had not been seen before on this ground, nor many others for that matter. If such things are becoming more commonplace, this may just have been the precursor to Australia's downfall. Matthew Hayden had made 31 and was beginning to cut loose when he cut hard at Harmison. The ball was struck with power and was rising as it reached Collingwood at backward point. The fielder, leaping high, initially contemplated taking the ball left-handed. But he changed tack, stretched and clutched the ball with his right. Hayden was not alone in staring in disbelief.

Well that’s made my summer.

Think of England and its old Dad witnessed a storming day of cricket.

The sunshine was glorious, the beer flowed and the capacity crowd was riotous.

In order of wondrousness and general hilarity:
1) Pietersen’s winning innings, with some of the most brutal hitting the Aussies have ever received

2) Collingwood’s impossible catch, which is the best I’ve ever seen in any game

3) Harmison's three wickets in four balls

4) Gillespie’s face as he was clobbered over deep mid-wicket for yet another six

5) Local lad Jon Lewis stroking the winning run

6) The streaker in a green fright wig who, ducking and weaving like a thin, white, nude Jason Robinson, contrived to evade the pathetic rugby tackles of six burly stewards for three full minutes before they managed to bring him down and cuff him and then, to the delight of the bellowing crowd, carry him off at horizontal full-length, as if he were the leading lady being borne off stage at the end of a spectacular song-and-dance number.


Ben said...

I was listening to the match on the radio, but boy, would I liked to have been there!
After Pietersen had begun to let fly, and England could win on a run a ball the TMS commentators CMJ and Jonathan Agnew both suggested Pietersen should calm down. But it was Mike Selvey who told them to calm down and trust Pietersen to judge each ball and continue the blitz if he could.
He could. And he did.
So I think he should be in the test squad now. For his obvious genius with a bat and to continue striking fear into the Aussie bowlers. Have seen a picture this morning of a despairing Jason Gillespie, who looks like his entire world has fallen apart.

Brit said...

The Aussies copped some fearful stick from the crowd throughout.

Gillespie went to pieces, but I was very impressed with McGrath. I never liked him in the past but he bantered beautifully with the masses, and bowled ominously well.

I agree that Pietersen has to play in the Tests if he has another innings like this. He's a larger than life character, even overshadowing Flintoff in the field, and he has no fear of the Aussies.

It will mean sacrificing Thorpe, which would be strange, but at least for once our selection headache is that we've got too many good players, not too few!

Peter Burnet said...

I guess the proof that you are an Anglophile is when you find yourself celebrating a win by England in a sport you don't understand in the slightest.

Brit said...


Good man.

As in most sports, it's less important to understand the rules, than to get the gist of the drama.

Basically, old Blighty, having exported its pastimes along with its Empire, has spent the last fifty years or more being gleefully thrashed at its own game by its former colonies.

Even when England has been ranked rock bottom at cricket, still we are the team that the Aussies, Indians, West Indies etc most long and love to beat.

Australia has been by far the number one team in all forms of cricket for a good decade or more, and have (with humiliating ease) had the upper hand over us in the biannual Anglo-Aussie competition ('The Ashes') for twenty years. And boy, do they like to gloat about it.

But this year we really feel we've got a hope.

I appreciate you're Canadian, but you'll no doubt understand this analogy: to us, if England were to win the Ashes, it would be a bit like the Red Sox's victory over the Yankees in the World Series, but as if it were in the final.

Peter Burnet said...


I appreciate you're Canadian, but you'll no doubt understand this analogy: to us, if England were to win the Ashes, it would be a bit like the Red Sox's victory over the Yankees in the World Series, but as if it were in the final.

Oh, sure, now there is an analogy that would resonate with every red-blooded Canadian! :-)

Brit said...

Sorry, couldn't think of a Canadian analogy. Ice hockey just isn't famous enough. would be a bit like Canada beating the USA at healthcare statistics?

Peter Burnet said...

Something like this, maybe?

Brit said...