By the time Stuart Broad started his run up for the final ball of the test match, the tension in the Lord’s Cricket Ground was palpable. Nothing could have been more exciting than that moment and that too in a format which is overlooked nowadays. With the emergence of T20 and high scoring one day internationals, critics opine that Cricket is now a much faster game than it was years back. They depict that now it is the Rabbit who wins the race. But No, that’s not the case. Tortoises still have the capability of winning races.
When the world was relishing (barring the Portuguese fans) the drubbing of Portugal by the attacking Germans, the crowd at the Mecca of cricket was enjoying a nail-biting climax of the test match as Sri Lanka were fighting for a draw and the English side was determined to win the game.
At Lunch on 4th day, nobody believed that the test match would have such a dramatic ending. But as our cricket forefathers said, “Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty.” It really is. You never know when a wicket would fall and change the complexion of the game.
England, after scoring above 500 in the 1st innings, was in danger of being bundled out for a score well below the 200-run mark had it not been for Gary Ballance’s brave knock. Sri Lankans were over the moon when Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath were ripping through the batting order. But at the same time, they didn’t know that the English bowlers would be also getting enough time to have a go at the Asian powerhouse.
And that did happen. The quick dismissal of English batsmen almost proved to be a blessing in disguise for them. The hosts declared overnight to have a full quota of 90 overs on the final day to take the 10 wickets. This was test cricket at its best!
Sri Lanka scored a mammoth 453 in the 1st innings riding on historic centuries by veteran Kumar Sangakkara and Captain Angelo Matthews thus becoming successful in making their way into the Lord’s Honours Boards. But they had a tough task ahead.
A draw was on the cards when the two Sri Lankan stalwarts- Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene- were proving to be too tough for the Englishmen. But it was James Anderson who came to the rescue as he removed both the experienced Lankans within a space of 14 balls. The game was changed!
From a batsman’s point of view, sessions bring them back into the game. But from a bowler’s, even a single wicket-taking delivery can bring them back in the game. A wicket can inspire the entire bowling team as it did on this occasion as Stuart Broad and Chris Jordan also started chipping wickets and suddenly Sri Lanka were in utter disarray.
Nuwan Pradeep walked in with just 5 balls left. He was the last man standing and had to face the music and the typical English crowd cheer. But he did survive the pressure, denying England a memorable victory. As Ravi Shastri says, “In the end, Cricket was the winner.”
The recent test matches have lived up to the expectations. The manner in which the Englishmen fought in New Zealand, a year back, was amazing to watch. Stuart Broad’s innings knock stood out as he was like a defiant wall which the kiwi players failed to break for a long time.
Even the test match between India and South Africa, few months back at Johannesburg, was also great to witness. AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis batted excellently on a deteriorated pitch but couldn’t provide the Proteas what could have been a historic victory, thanks to Ajinkya Rahane’s blinder in the field.
Dale Steyn helped South Africa level the recently concluded test series against Australia. At one stage, Australia were cruising along before the premier fast bowler ripped through the batting order with an exceptional display of reverse swing bowling and thus guiding South Africa to a famous comeback victory.
So, the test matches are gradually becoming more competitive and if the most awaited ICC World Test Championship is brought into effect by the ICC, then there will be no surprise when the world will be glued to the television sets.