What were you doing when you were 21 or 22? We were mostly not leaving our room for weeks on end and feeling kind of numb inside. Not Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara. They were exhibiting extraordinary amounts of steel in rescuing a disastrous one-day international run chase in front of thousands and thousands of people.
We’re not sure the scale of their achievement was properly expressed in the highlights. India had been dispatched for just 212. England had just lost the only batsman who’d seemed remotely competent – Paul Collingwood – and had fallen to 114-7. It was only the 24th over. Wickets had been tumbling.
Again and again we’d hoped someone would stick around and again and again batsmen hadn’t. Paul Collingwood had looked likely and now he’d gone. The English supporters in the crowd had given up and were occupying themselves by starting Mexican waves and shouting at the stewards. This was the context of the match.
The crowd were to entertain themselves for quite a bit longer, but we were watching. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara went about their business and about an hour later they’d started to win the crowd back over. They faced and conquered every Indian bowler with excellent shots, sensible thinking and some great cheeky-bastard singles.
Slowly, one by one, people said to each other: ‘Listen. Put down the beer snake. Something’s happening here.’
THAT’S the scale of the achievement. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara batted so well and rescued what had seemed such a lost cause that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.
That’s some performance.
England v India, fourth one-day international at Old Trafford
India 212 (Yuvraj Singh 71, Sachin Tendulkar 55, Stuart Broad 4-51, James Anderson 3-38)
England 213-7 (Stuart Broad 45 not out, Ravi Bopara 43 not out, Ajit Agarkar 4-60)