The 1990s-est Ashes, day five: England and Australia slowly build all-time thriller

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Last week we picked our 1990s-est England team and our 1990s-est Australia team. This week we’re pitting them against each other in a one-off exhibition Test match with the aid of Cricket Captain 2018’s ‘All-Time Greats’ mode. (This follows Sim Series: Sri Lanka v England last month.)

England (19-0 and 338 all out) need 360 runs to beat Australia (519 all out and 197-2 dec).

Here’s what happened on day four.

Mike Atherton and Nick Knight walk to the crease. The sun is shining, the pitch is a mess.

Morning session

There’s a big, big, BIG LBW appeal against Atherton off Paul Reiffel in the third over of the day. It’s not given. Athers just stands there, leaning on his bat, like it’s no big thing.

Then he cuts Reiffel between second and third slip.

The man has bigger stones than Makka Pakka from the Night Garden (who, now that we think about it, doesn’t actually have especially large stones, despite his very obvious affection for them).

Mark Taylor has set this field…

… so when Knight inside-edges one off Reiffel, it goes to hand.

Graeme Hick walks to the crease.

Graeme Hick plays and misses his first ball.

Hick starts cutting and Athers seems to be almost enjoying himself, but chances are cropping up with grim regularity.

Brendon Julian gets the England captain LBW with a full one.

Mark Ramprakash walks to the crease. He looks nervous.

Hick square drives Fleming for six and Taylor spreads the field a little.

Two sessions to go and England have eight wickets in hand.

Afternoon session

Taylor drops Hick at slip off Colin Miller. The bowler sulks. You might say he is in a funk.

Hick passes 50.

Hick edges Miller to Taylor for 69.

Alec Stewart marches in. (‘Marches’ is of course the correct verb to use to describe Stewart’s approach to the crease. You could maybe also get away with ‘struts’.)

Stewart plays all around a Miller straight one.

Stewart marches off.

Michael Bevan is having a bowl now and Aftab Habib edges him to Taylor, who is a busy, busy man at the minute.

Ronnie Irani plays across a Bevan googly and is extremely lucky to survive the LBW appeal. Jonathan Agnew does that whistling inhale thing that means it was close.

Irani whops a couple of fours off the same bowler in the final over before tea.

One session to go. Five wickets in hand.

Evening session

Do England dare to dream? It’s going to be a looooong session. Or possibly with that tail a very short one.

Ramprakash reaches his 50. More importantly, he has survived 162 balls. It’s a fourth innings ball hundred. Hick made one too.

With an hour to go, Australia take the new ball.

Irani continues to play shots, but with the ball four overs old, he is caught behind off Reiffel having faced 66 balls.

Mark Ealham arrives. He is batting at eight, but Australia will justifiably be viewing him as the final wicket.

With half an hour to go, Taylor is offering Ramprakash singles and crowding Ealham with fielders.

Reiffel gets one through Ealham’s defences and it’s farming the strike time for Ramps. There are 28 minutes to go.

Mullally hooks a four second ball.

It’s about an inch from a fielder.

But then an over later, it happens. Trying to engineer a single off the final ball of the over, Ramprakash edges behind. He had faced 203 deliveries. A double ball hundred.

Ramps’ departure means that Mullally, Devon Malcolm and Phil Tufnell have 20 minutes to survive. On the balcony, Tuffers looks like he is going to melt into his chair and never reform into a human being ever again.

Mullally plays out a Reiffel maiden.

Just look at him making a big show of leaving this one that wouldn’t have hit a fourth set of stumps.

Or maybe he just really missed it.

In the next over, Devon Malcolm tries to cut Brendon Julian despite the match situation and the presence of three slips because apparently Devon is actually insane. He succeeds in finding the hands of Mark Waugh.

Tuffers is in. There are 14 minutes to go.

With just three overs remaining, Reiffel cleans up Tuffers.

So close, but yet, so far.

1990s Australia win

Michael Slater is player of the match, which is fair enough, but also infuriating.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. I feel so empty. This is worse than the 90s because they got close!!

    This has comfortably been the most interesting thing going on in my life this week. Please say you’re doing more?!

    1. Not sure. They are decently popular compared to other stuff on the site but we get the impression that for every person who’s super into it, there’s someone for whom it holds no interest whatsoever.

      We could be wrong. These things are hard to gauge.

      We probably will do a similar thing again, but because of how we run it, matches do rather dominate the site so we definitely need a bit of a gap now.

      Less is more and all that.

      1. Wait, you’re doing this for popularity?! I see. Anyway, fair enough. I can wait.

        One thing though…”Less is more”? Never seek a career in cricket admin KC

      2. There’s those of us who are very interested in this stuff but don’t necessarily comment. Please count us too!

      3. This is the singular occurrence in my life when I am a single(ton) and a unit set, all thanks to KC.

  2. Quintessentially 1990s, KC.

    Daisy would be convinced that your whole simulation was engineered and contrived around your narrative of what England cricket was about in the 1990s.

    Indeed the only reason that she isn’t thus convinced is because I haven’t encouraged her to look at these simulation pieces, ever since her “your all stark raving bonkers” remark when I showed her Day One of the Sri Lanka v England simulation.

    It is intriguing that this simulation had so much realism to it, but perhaps the stats and coding that feed the Cricket Captain system really do tell enough of the story to yield such results.

    Top work, KC, great idea and very well writ.

    1. To be clear on how the match unfolded, we do one play-through and what happens happens

      Anyone who knows us will assure you that we’re far too lazy to be bothered engineering something.

      1. I know that, KC. You know that. Your readers (who have all gone stark raving bonkers, you might recall) know that – but Daisy sees conspiracies everywhere.

        Covid…Trump…Greenpeace…Brexit…The Hundred…

        Coincidence? She doesn’t think so.

      2. Further to Ged’s comment about this, just to add, I definitely feel that I know this too.

  3. Oooh, close. Australia beat England by 103 runs and eight wickets. Near as a toucher, as my dad would have said. Hardly a slip of paper between England’s 30 runs per wicket and Australia’s 60.

    This is a proper 90s result. England got lamped, but then someone did some fancy moving of their hands and the actual result disappeared. Nobody got fired. The TCCB carried on as usual. Ray Illingworth had a grumpy row with Michael Atherton about silk purses. We all remembered how close this match was, and how that meant England had narrowed the gap, were on the up. And we all looked forward to the next test, in which doing exactly the same thing as before would create a different result.

  4. I’m definitely in the “super into it” camp. Would like to see a who is better historical series – Aus 00s against Aus ‘48 invincibles or Eng now against Eng 1930s

      1. Yes.

        You can sort of form them into a team…

        Anderson or Steyn

      2. Debatable, JB, I think you could argue the placement of the plural ‘s’ in either place, depending on which bit is the honorific itself and which bit is the adjectival descriptor. I’m not sure the title has ever been properly explained.

        Got me thinking though – good challenge.

      3. I’m also undecided. KC’s chosen are certainly the equals of the Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal, but are they grammatically similar?

      4. I would have thought

        Field Marshals -several senior Generals
        Fields Martial – places where battles have been fought
        Field’s Martial – Gracie contributed to the war effort due to her nature
        Field Marshal’s – belonging to Monty (not Panesar or Lynch, the other one)

        Gods I need the cricket to start again

      5. I know I’m in danger of taking this pedantic element of the thread down an even more pedantic road, Smudge, but I fear you have put the apostrophe for the one about “our Gracie” in the wrong place; in that instance it would be Fields’ Martial.

        Field’s Martial might be a military matter that belongs to an algebraic function of some kind. Bert can no doubt come up with a working example.

      6. On the plural, it really is down to whether the word is the title/honorific or an adjectival noun that further describes.

        Hence the plural of the rank “Field marshal” is Field marshals, whereas the plural of court-martial is courts-martial, as the term “martial” in that context is an adjective.

        We still await King Cricket’s determination on precise construction of the term Lord Megachief of Gold.

        If there were to be such a thing as a Lord Megachief of Silver and/or a Lord Megachief of Bronze, that would indicate that “Lord Megachief” is the honorific and the “of X” bit is the adjective, thus suggesting Lord Megachiefs of Gold as the plural.

        Alternatively, if there were to be such a thing as a Lord Gigachief and/or a Lord Microchief, that would indicate that the “Megachief” bit is adjectival and therefore suggest Lords Megachief of Gold as the plural.

        We need leadership, we need guidance.

      7. Ged, you are, of course, correct about my misplaced apostrophe and I am inconsolably ashamed.

  5. I don’t care about the result, Hick had a good test.

    And Mullally was the pick of the England bowlers, sort of. I have to say I’d have picked Ben Smith over Habib, though.

  6. A reference to Makka Pakka! Good to know someone else is self-isolating with small children.

  7. This is all ridiculous. Drop Hick and Ramprakash, move Stewart up to open and bring in Russell to keep, Knight to move to number 4, with Mark Butcher in at number 3. Drop all the bowlers and replace with Salisbury (‘cos all great sides have a world beating legspinn…oh wait), the seam attack should be made up of Ilott, Igglesden, Jarvis and Lewis.

    There, that’s sorted the winter tour. Next. [/endglandselectionpolicy]

  8. Excellent. Gripping stuff. Shows why there’s no substitute for substitutes for test cricket.

  9. I am in the super into it category.
    Can you do an Ashes series?
    Or maybe a Sim series rematch of the CWC19 final?

    1. A Sim Nineties rematch is a possibility. Obviously England’s team would change enormously and Australia’s would stay exactly the same.

    1. We haven’t watched that one yet. We watched the Nineties one first obviously.

      Any good?

  10. It made me shed a tear or two. Botham, Selvey, Bumble, Allott & Ian Ward talking about Bob Willis. Absolutely brilliant.

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