No. 6 January 25, 2009

Roberts and Murray stand tall

Two West Indians in England set a school back home alight

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Birmingham, 11 June 1975

It was an afternoon when the numbers in math class just weren't adding up, simply because all of us were too preoccupied with counting down the runs required by the last-wicket pair of Deryck Murray and Andy Roberts to defeat Pakistan in a critical World Cup match in faraway Birmingham.

The teachers had long since abandoned the noble task of shaping young minds, and their personal transistor radios were blaring so loudly down the hallway that we could hear every anxious moment, every desperate Pakistani appeal, every West Indian cheer at a scrambled run, as the experienced and level-headed Murray - a real hero for us in Trinidad and Tobago - along with the newcomer Roberts (it was just his second ODI) worked their way steadily towards a target of 267 from what seemed a hopeless position of 203 for 9.

With just a handful of runs needed, all discipline and classroom decorum went out the window. Huddled around those precious radios, the crackling commentary from what seemed a world away had us all hypnotised. Anyone daring to voice his doubt at the miracle being achieved was banished from sight. All hands, whether sweaty or trembling, had to be on deck for this one, even from across the Atlantic.

And then it happened: Roberts tapping Wasim Raja to midwicket for the winning run with two balls to spare, triggering an explosion of youthful celebration throughout the school that had the old lady next door wondering if the building was on fire. It was, but only with the passion of cricket-crazy schoolboys experiencing the joy of an amazing West Indian victory.

Fazeer Mohammed is a writer and broadcaster in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine