Three hours to almost win it. One minute to lose it. I’m not sure I can believe what I just saw. What looked like it was going to be a glorious night for English cricket suddenly turned into an all too familiar kick in the crotch. I suppose we should’ve guessed.
I’m not going to get into the finer points of the game. I bet most of you saw it anyway. I guess the best synopsis is this: the West Indies dominated the first half hour of the contest and the last five minutes. England did really well for the rest of the match, except for their mini collapse when Root and Moeen fell in quick succession.
Sport can be such a cruel game. England had no luck for the entire evening. They lost the toss of course, but more importantly every time we hit the ball in the air it landed in a fielder’s breadbasket. It was almost uncanny. Every edge, every slight miscue was punished; we got away with nothing. In the end we did extremely well to crawl our way up to 155.
Obviously we needed early wickets to defend that kind of total and the bowlers duly delivered. I can’t really criticise any of them. We bowled heroically and deserved better. Unfortunately however, sport isn’t that simple. Poor Ben Stokes bowled a subpar last over and that was that. Hats off to Brathwaite for some sensational hitting.
If only – if bloody only – that edge from Samuels to Buttler off Plunkett had carried another inch. Had the catch been given then I think England would’ve won. Talk about small margins. Instead Samuels survived to live another day. He played magnificently and kept his team in the contest.
Before I sign off, I’d like to congratulate the West Indies. They were probably the best team throughout the tournament so I don’t think anyone can grumble. They’re a brilliant side to watch and their victory will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people … not least antipodeans and those living in the southernmost part of Africa. Ahem!
However, although it’s great to see West Indies cricket (which is beset by so many problems) enjoy another day in the sun, I’m afraid I don’t really share their joy. When I see the natural flair and outrageous talent that West Indian cricketers possess, I can’t help but think ‘if only’.
The West Indies have so much to give the cricketing world. What a shame that politics and an exodus of talent to American sports (etc) prevents them from being competitive in all forms of the game. I wish West Indies cricket had more days like this. Perhaps the likes of Carlos Brathwaite can get them back to the promised land. I certainly hope so.