As Australia hilariously collapsed at Trent Bridge, being bowled out in the time it takes to make a decent gin and tonic, the chat in the office reached levels of hyperbole not seen since Mark Charles Jefford Nicholas last talked about anything: ‘This is amazing!’; ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing!’; ‘Do you know where the remote is? I looked all over the house!’; ‘This is the greatest day in the history of cricket!’
Of course, getting carried away is pretty much par for the course for us, like that time we boldly predicted that Mitchell Johnson’s international career was over. But it got us thinking: was this really the greatest day in the history of cricket? Editor Steve seemed to agree, arguing that ‘the memory plays tricks and we get very sentimental about the past so let’s work on the basis it was – simply because it was the most recent’. Of course Editor Steve is also a well known sex pest with hairy hands, so it’s not really a great idea to listen to what he says.
Hence we collected together as many 51allout writers as we could find and tasked them with answering one simple question, hopefully in around 1,100 words with a few funny bits: Which is the greatest day in the history of cricket and why?
English Matt: The 1993 NatWest Trophy final, natch.
Aussie Matt: After getting the obvious answer out of the way first, that being June 2, 1989, the day Steven Peter Devereux Smith was born, it’s hard to pick one day out in particular. Call me Mr Traditional (and many often do), but I’d like to think that the greatest day in the history of cricket was one which saw a really entertaining, hard fought contest. The problem being it’s hard to think of many days like that, at least not recently anyway. Mostly it’s just been one team shitting on the other from a great height. Which is basically what the Ashes have been for a decade or more now, only with the teams swapping places every so often.
One that stands out in particular is the New Zealand vs. South Africa World Cup semi-final earlier this year. It pretty much had everything. Including Morne Morkel blubbing like a little girl. But it hardly qualifies as the greatest day in the history of cricket, mostly because it involved the Kiwis. So instead, I am going to do the hipster thing and claim that the final day of the Tied Test was the greatest day in the history of cricket. Just because Richie Benaud said it was.
EM: Richie who? Part of me thinks it has to be from an Ashes series, meaning realistically one of the days from 2005, or possibly 1981. As much as I don’t remember ’81, my mum says she listened to Botham’s innings at Headingley in the car with me, so I could theoretically claim that one. But on inspecting the scorecard, that was more of a classic two days. An alternative would be the second day at Lord’s in 2000, just for the sheer lunacy of four innings featuring in one day.
Nichael Bluth: For me, it’s hard to look past Boxing Day 2010 at the MCG (where Australia were bowled out for 98 and England reached 157 without loss at the close). From the genuine fear at the start of play – why exactly would anyone select Tim Bresnan? – to utter euphoria by the end, with it becoming clear pretty early on that England were going to (at worst) retain the Ashes Down Under, with the next few days nothing more than a pleasant stroll towards inevitable victory, The fact that more than 84,000 people were there to see Australia completely fall apart on that first day just adds to the beauty of the whole thing.
Realistically, England will probably never win as comfortably in Australia ever again. Which means that, for some of us, our lives peaked nearly five years ago, with nothing more than the sweet release of death to look forward to now. Which kinds of takes some of the fun out of it. But at least we’ll always have this wonderful 2:35 to look back on:
James K: I kind of agree with Aussie Matt (which is a traumatic enough admission for anyone) that the greatest day has to involve two good teams. Boxing Day 2010 was a little like had the Empire Strikes Back been solely restricted to two hours of watching everyone take turns to punch Darth Vader in the face – fun for all involved, but perhaps not quite the greatest piece of cinema of all time.
I think my answer is the last day at Old Trafford in 2005. It featured two genuinely good teams, a really close game, a brilliant innings from Ricky Ponting, that Simon Jones ball to Michael Clarke, Andrew Strauss kneeing a slip catch to Geraint Jones and perhaps the worst final over in history from Steve Harmison.
NB: Actually the first day at Edgbaston in 2005 is a good shout, for the sheer mentalness of England being bowled out for 407 inside 80 overs.
EM: Another candidate for me is the final day at Johannesburg in 2004. England had a lead of 189 going into the final day with five wickets in hand, but were far from favourites. But Marcus Trescothick stewarded the tail and Matthew Hoggard had his finest hour – this was the day that an England fan had been waiting all his life to say: England had a great cricket team.
AM: So basically, the answer seems to be any particular day in which the English cricket team happened to win then yeah? At least that narrows down the possible results quite nicely.
NB: Of course not – what about the second day of the Cape Town Test in 2011? Seeing Australia lurch to 21/9 will always be one of the cricket-watching highlights of my life. In particular Brad Haddin charging down the pitch at 18/5 will take some beating.
AM: Including games in which Brad Haddin happened to do something really, really stupid hardly narrows the field any further though. Although if you were looking for a truly competitive day of Test cricket, which swung back and forth several times, you could probably take your pick from any of the days from the second Test of that series. Australia’s second innings saw a Philander pfeiffer, an Australian fightback, Pat Cummins hitting the winning runs on his debut, and Shane Watson being bowled for a duck second ball. Cricket can seldom offer more than that I think.
And with that, the 1,100 word target was reached and the 51allout writers could slink away, safe in the knowledge that Editor Steve’s unquenchable thirst for low quality articles was sated for another day. But what of you dear reader? What is your favourite day in the history of cricket? Please feel free to use the comments section below to let us know.