Donning long black furry hats and red jackets,six drummers dressed like the the Queens army pounded down upon their percussion instruments to the tune of Seven Nation Army the extremely catchy and bass heavy White Stripes song. Drinks had been taken and amidst this tubthumping din,Australia captain George Bailey surrendered himself to a quiet moment.
Between sips of a strange blue fluid,Bailey looked directly above the drummers hats,at the scoreboard. Aus: 134/4 PP,it read. As his last throw of the dice to hunt down Englands 269 (built mainly by the efforts of half-centurions Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara),Bailey had summoned the batting powerplay three overs prior,from the 33rd onwards. It had witnessed the fall of Adam Voges in the first powerplay over,one run from the second and a Mitchell Marsh boundary from the third.
If Australia were to have a sliver of a chance in this match at Edgbaston on Saturday,the next two overs the last two with just three fielders manning the outer circle were going to be of utmost importance. Screaming over the climaxing cymbals in the background,Bailey perhaps explained just that to Marsh,the man who was going to be on strike,as the umpire called time to resume play.
Jimmy Anderson rubbed the white leather against his red flannels. Bailey sighed from the non strikers end. He had pulled Australia out of a spot once in this innings. Now,once he gets the strike,he was going to have to do it all over again. A short recap first.
Spell of the day
When Bailey had walked in during the 15th over of the chase,Englands Tim Bresnan was in the middle of the spell of the day. Bresnan,a man on the cusp of becoming a father (as all the tabloids in the UK tell you),looked to be in a real hurry to pack up the Australians and go home to his expecting wife. He had just bowled two beauties to Australia opener Shane Watson to begin the over,balls that Watson swished and missed.
A ball later,Bresnan bowled it full and fast,thudding Watsons yellow pads with force. As Bresnan appealed,Watson showed his bat to the umpire,cheekily claiming he had got a thin edge to it. Yes he did,claimed England skipper Alastair Cook,who had caught the ball at gully. So Watson was out caught,not leg before. And thats when Bailey walked in.
The first ball beat him outside his off-stump. The next ball sliced him in half. Bailey managed to get bat on the next one,keeping it down on its spray to point. From there on he rallied his troops,scoring in ones and twos off Anderson and Stuart Broad and striking the odd boundary against the likes of James Tredwell and Joe Root.
Now,he was three short of his fifty as Anderson ran in to Marsh.
In his previous seven overs,Anderson had gone wicketless. With a hope and a prayer,he kicked off to begin his eighth,the fourth powerplay over and Englands 36th over all. The ball pitched outside Marshs off stump,just back of a length. Had Marsh left it alone,it wouldve been a nothing ball. Instead,he played it. A cut straight into the palms of the only fielder positioned square on the off side. Eoin Morgan at point.
For Anderson,it turned out to be more than just a something ball. It was,in fact,the dismissal that he will remember for the rest of his life,as Marsh had just made him Englands highest wicket-taker in one-day cricket. With this 235th dismissal,Anderson had just gone past Darren Goughs long-standing record. But the job at hand wasnt finished yet.
After conceding a single each to new man Matthew Wade and Bailey,Anderson had the tentative starter in the Australia wicketkeeper all to himself,for half an over. Off the first ball,he swung one away from Wade,squaring him up uglily. With the second,Anderson pushed it a little fuller and kept it on off stump,which Wade showed the dead bat to with care. The third was full and and an inch outside off,which Wade drove. Or looked to drive,rather.
All Wade had managed was a thin nick. While England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler went up instantly,his Aussie counterpart refused to move forcing umpire Kumar Dharmasena to go upstairs. Following a few prolonged minutes,the infra-red technology in Hot Spot agreed with the Reds. With a wicket to begin and end that over,Anderson had reduced Australia from 134/4 to 136/6. Had there also been a technology around to tell Australia that it was all over,it perhaps would have at that moment.
From the other end,Bailey watched with disbelief. Here he was leading an Australian team by example. But here he was too,leading an Australian side devoid of mettle. Something he alone displayed in oodles through the course of his gritty innings.
First ball next over,Bailey brought up his fifty,one that he perhaps knew would go in vain. The bat stayed down but the drummers went up again in glorious noise.