From a black and white TV and Botham’s Ashes, to the green green grass of Edgbaston
Was England’s win over India one of the greatest Tests ever?
Press Association cricket correspondent David Clough has been covering England at home and abroad since 2001. A life-long cricket supporter – he is from Yorkshire after all – he has seen many great matches. Here, David explains why England’s victory over India in their 1,000th Test was up there with the personal favourites he has seen live – but not quite the best he has ever watched.
It had to be Edgbaston again … there really is something about this place.
I will always regret missing 2005, of course, four years into my privilege to cover England but before a seat in the press box was reserved come what may – and on that Brett Lee-Andrew Flintoff occasion, sadly it was not my turn.
Scroll on 13 years, there have been plenty of contenders to rank alongside the theatre we witnessed in Birmingham over the past four days.
England’s scrapes and successes took in Trent Bridge in successive Ashes series – DRS drama et al throughout as Alastair Cook’s team went 1-0 up and then when Stuart Broad’s eight for 15 clinched the urn.
There was also Graham Onions’ last-ditch defiance at Centurion and Cape Town on my first full Test tour in 2009/10, the dose then repeated thanks to Matt Prior at Auckland in 2013, and in between the glory of Melbourne and Sydney 2010/11.
Personal memories – and a tinge of eternal regret – go back 30 years or so more, though and to Headingley 1981.
The final morning, or previous afternoon/evening, was the Top Trumps of ‘I was there’ moments.
Sadly, I was not – and unlike a few thousand others, I’m not going to start lying about it now.
It will always be frustrating to relate instead that ‘I could have been there’ … ‘I had the chance, I thought about it long and hard in fact’, but in the end – on the basis Botham surely could not carry on much longer and even if he did surely could not bowl like he had batted – I chose grandma’s old black-and-white.
So, we were about 10 miles away in deepest West Yorkshire when Willis knocked out Ray Bright’s middle-stump, and charged off unstoppably to celebrate the utterly implausible.
It is an irreplaceable memory, and what we have just seen against India at Edgbaston cannot supplant it.
Nonetheless, we celebrate the present too – and this epic 1,000th Test stands right up there as one of the best.
Joe Root himself immediately confirmed that opinion in his post-match interview, and why wouldn’t he after a contest which had pretty much everything – including the right result, of course, for England.
This Test had all the omens of prospective greatness, the benchmark for a mouth-watering series – and how it delivered.
But from the moment the England captain was run out for 80 in the first innings by his opposite number Virat Kohli, then sent packing with the most provocative of celebrations, the stakes were raised.
Kohli made good on his histrionics with a brilliant 149 to prop up an otherwise ailing India line-up; 20-year-old Sam Curran produced a man-of-the-match all-round performance; evergreens James Anderson and Stuart Broad had their moments, and the outcome was in doubt to the very last – when Ben Stokes settled matters with a rush of telling wickets.
It was breathless, magnificent stuff almost throughout – and this time, ‘I WAS there’.