Updated: Sep 24
The Moment That Cricket Clicked: Kaggie
The second part in my new series and this time I'm delighted to have Kaggie (more formally known as @thecricketmen on Twitter) on to discuss the moment his love for the game was rekindled. Kaggie is an excellent blog writer and all round great guy and one of the true originals, in my opinion, of this whole blog writing shambles. Anyway, here's Kaggies account of a fateful day in Manchester.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup was undoubtedly a spectacle which changed the cricketing landscape in this country. It helped to inspire a whole new generation of fans and for me it was vital in re-igniting a love with cricket which I had deep down inside of me for many years. However, it wasn’t the increasingly cliched Final which inspired me, it was instead a group game between New Zealand and the West Indies at Old Trafford.
Let me set the scene. My dad had been dragging me to cricket games for about two years at this point. And I will be honest, I didn’t really understand his overexcitement about something which I considered to be rather boring. However, every time he asked I would I go with because as far as I was concerned it was a day out eating different food with possibly even a stay at a premier inn if it was far enough.
Earlier in the summer, I had been to watch the one Cricket World Cup game already – Afghanistan V Australia at Bristol – and despite enjoying myself it was one of the most one-sided games ever. But, after that match, I could sort of feel an attachment to cricket building gently inside of me.
Fast forward 21 days and on a bright sunshiny morning I am getting ready to go to Old Trafford. Little did I know what a treat I was in for. I arrived at the ground and what struck me was that it was rather full right from the outset. Two neutral teams who people don’t really have an attachment too and yet it was almost full.
From the minute that the game began it became evident to me that this was going to be a type of high-class cricket which I had not experienced yet. I knew of class players such as Williamson and Braithwaite but I had never really watched them play cricket on telly or elsewhere. Immediately after the first over I was gripped.
Sheldon Cottrell steamed in from the Brian Statham end in the very first ball of the match and immediately dismissed Martin Guptill for a duck. Four balls later and with the crowd bouncing ecstatically, he bowled an absolute jaffa to dismiss the other opener, Colin Munro, for 0. And to the sound of a roaring Old Trafford, he turned and completed his signature salute. At that point I was sat there recalling to my dad that this was going to be an easy win for the West Indies.
Enter Kane Williamson. It was certainly a slow burner of an innings. However, when Kane really started the engines things got interesting. Cut shots, pull shots, cover drives and big hits, Williamson really had it all. It was a beautiful innings and although he fell just short of 150, I will never forget the applause that erupted as he made his way to 100.
By the innings break and after my overpriced curry, I was convinced that the total of 291 may have been a stretch too far and I distinctly remember telling my dad that it would be over by seven o clock. Yet again, I was wrong.
The chase had started well. The West Indies had two half centurions at the crease and were 142-2 after 22 overs. New Zealand had been sloppy with the ball and as evening worked its’ way in, the party stand opposite were alive and kicking despite the fact that this again seemed to be turning into a one sided game.
What followed next was truly unbelievable. Two quick wickets from Ferguson triggered a mini collapse and suddenly after returning from grabbing an ice cream the scoreboard read 152/5 with Chris Gayle no longer at the crease. I was then glued to my seat as the collapse in the middle overs continued and by the start of the 27th over they were 164/7 following some brilliant Boult bowling. Things were getting tense.
Fast forward the 33rd over and it seemed the West Indies’ ship was steadying. Braithwaite and Kemar Roach were building a steady partnership and the crowds electricity was reaching new highs. It was bizarre really because no one had attachment to either side and yet everyone was truly engrossed in the balance of the game. Another wicket fell and things got even more intense. However, Carlos Braithwaite was still digging in and he was not going to give up without a fight.
And fight he did. After some more stabilization, the West Indies found themselves in the final three overs requiring 33 with just one wicket remaining. It was at this moment that cricket really clicked. Every ball mattered. It was breath-taking in every way.
Under pressure and under the night sky, this was when Carlos Braithwaite accelerated. Matt Henry steamed in. 2,6,6,6,4,1. Carlos had teed off AND kept the strike to the delight of the crowd. He was sitting pretty on 99 and had flipped the game on its’ head. The equation was now 8 off two overs and you could tell he wanted to do it in style.
Ferguson returned as the next bowler and contrary to Henry he turned the pressure back up. Dot. Dot. Dot. 8 off 9 now the equation. Next, Braithwaite pulls out to deep midwicket and comes back for the second. He has his maiden century. 6 off 8. Old Trafford is rocking.
What followed next was another dot. More pressure. The final ball of the over approaches and I am stood up agonizingly waiting to see whether Braithwaite could complete an almighty comeback.
The next moments unfolded like this. Ferguson came in, Braithwaite sliced it towards the point, high in the air, heading for 6. From where I was sat I was certain that I had witnessed the comeback of all comebacks. I was almost erupting into a jubilant cheer. However, Trent Boult was lurking on the boundary. And under immense pressure with the crowd rooting for Braithwaite, he leaped to his right, held on and balanced. Agony. Carlos Braithwaite had fallen short.
But really, that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I had witnessed the beauty of cricket. The ebbs and the flows, the showstopping moments, the nerve-wracking agony. That was when I realised what cricket could be and how good of a game it was. Since then, I’ve never looked back.