I suppose the irony of doing this blog tonight is that it wont mean an awful lot to all my US readers, but apologies, just humour me for once. Yes, that strange sport you dont understand, Cricket.
The things it has in common are England, Australia, and a ground in Leeds, named Headingley, given thats the district of Leeds where the ground is.
Back in 1981, England seemed to be losing yet another test match to the old enemy. Well into their second innings they hadnt scored as many runs as Australia had in one. Then Ian Botham found a partner who would hang around with him, named Graham Dilley, and they managed to add a lot of runs, and at least make Australia bat again, even if they didnt need to score that many runs to win anyway. Then Bob Willis bowled like a demon, the Australian batsmen froze like rabbits in headlights, and the rest was history. Yes, from the pits of defeat, England actually won the game. I never saw those events, was working, and then at club cricket when this all happened.
So, to this week! Same venue, same teams, and… When Australia batted first, and only made 179, it looked like England were set for glory…maybe? To cut a long story short, a few hours later, England were all out for 67! Pathetic! So out went Australia to bat again, and totalled 246 this time around, leaving England the seemingly impossible task of needing 359 runs to win, and keep the series alive.
Not long after that, England were 15-2, and 59 looked challenging, let alone 359. For a while from there, things improved, and it looked like maybe a miracle was possible. Then finally, they collapsed again, and the last batsman, Jack Leach walked to the wicket, with England still needing 73 runs to win. But there was another batsman there, named Ben Stokes who proceeded to put on a batting masterclass. So here we are, now 351-9 when the fun really begins.
Teams are allowed 2 appeals against Umpiring decisions, and at this point, Australia rashly used their second for a LBW decision not given by the umpire, that even a short sighted biddy like me could tell couldnt possibly be out. Without getting technical, where the ball had pitched, LBW cannot be given. A decision that came back to bite them.
6 runs later, when Australia would still win by 1 run, the bowler dropped the ball that was passed to him to run out the last batsman, so England survived. A matter of balls later, the ball hit Stokes on the pads, in front of the wickets, but the Umpire didnt give it out. If they hadnt made that pointless appeal 6 runs earlier, they could have appeal, the off pitch umpire would have given him out, and Australia would have won.
Then Leach went and faced the next over, managed to score a run (his first, and only one in his lengthy innings) to tie the scores. Stokes then scored the winning runs, and the series continues in a meaningful way. Yes, this time I saw the events play out, and would have done, even if not now disabled, as it happened on a Sunday. Seriously, if I hadnt seen it, I would never have believed it!
Oh, and something more my American friends, a piece of Baseball irony. Just got an email from Seattle Mariners (signed up for trip, never cancelled), and apparently, having just played my beloved Dodgers, thats where the Yankees have now gone. On Wednesday night, Justus Sheffield (ex Yankee) will pitch for the Mariners, and James Paxton (ex Mariner) will pitch for the Yankees. I think they actually changed teams in the same trade! In other circumstances, it could have been reversed!
OK, video time. If Clara Johnson had been around 40 years later, or if in my teens, I’d been a dancer, just like her (with her looks, and non intersex), well, this could have been me. Magic?