No. 15

AB and Thommo fall short

They took it down to the wire; then the final, fatal stumble

Mike Coward

March 29, 2009

Text size: A | A


Thomson c Miller via Tavare b Botham © Getty Images
Enlarge
 

Melbourne, 30 December 1982

It has long been said that Melbourne is one of the truly great sporting capitals of the world. On the penultimate day of 1982, 18,000 burghers streamed through the city and across Yarra Park to reach the grand Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness the conclusion to one of the greatest Ashes matches.

The gates had been flung open. Australia required just 37 runs to regain the game's oldest and most glittering prize. What's more, the last two batsmen were at the crease. It was possible the mob would see but one delivery.

Requiring 292 for victory, Australia were 218 for 9 when Jeff Thomson, once the world's fastest bowler, joined emerging champion Allan Border on the nerve-racking fourth day. By stumps they had advanced the score to 255. Hope springs eternal in the eager breast, and to a man the crowd was strong in its belief that Border and Thomson would somehow conjure the 37 needed for victory. And but for a desperate last throw of the dice by England's captain, Bob Willis, the bravura of Ian Botham, and the reflexes of offspinner Geoff Miller, the most improbable Australian victory would have been achieved.

Not even the new ball at 259 caused problems. But Thomson poked at the first delivery of Botham's 26th over and provided a straightforward catch to Chris Tavaré at second slip. Tavaré could only parry the chance, and Miller, fielding deeper at first slip, took a couple of quick strides and managed to complete a remarkable catch, the ball just 18 inches off the turf. England won by three runs and Willis dubbed Botham "golden bollocks".

Mike Coward is a cricket writer with The Australian. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine in 2007

RSS Feeds: Mike Coward

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Mike CowardClose

    Top dog of the underdogs

My Favourite Cricketer: Jack Russell brought a neatness to the keeper's art that was matched by his meticulous scruffiness in other regards. By Scott Oliver

    Rewarding times for Hashim Amla

Numbers Game: The rate at which he has accumulated ODI hundreds and MoM awards is among the fastest in history

'Ponting was an instinctive, aggressive player'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Ricky Ponting's technique

    MacLeod spells hope for Scotland

Allrounder Calum MacLeod's return from a faulty action is key to Scotland's World Cup hopes. By Tim Wigmore

How boring is boring cricket?

Probably not as much as boring periods in the likes of rugby, football and tennis, Russell Jackson thinks

News | Features Last 7 days

Manic one-day chases, and daddy partnerships

Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries

Has international cricket begun to break up?

The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

Well worth the wait

Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin

Younis Khan and the art of scoring hundreds

Out of 70 batsmen who've scored 15 or more Test hundreds only five are from Pakistan, but Younis Khan's appetite for hundreds matches that of some of the top contemporary batsmen

Australia outdone in every way

Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

News | Features Last 7 days

    Has international cricket begun to break up? (83)

    The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

    Lyon low after high of 2013 (51)

    The offspinner was Australia's highest wicket-taker in 2013, but his form has dipped sharply this year

    Australia outdone in every way (51)

    Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

    Rewarding times for Hashim Amla (49)

    The rate at which Amla has accumulated ODI hundreds and MoM awards is among the fastest in history. And his runs-per-innings figure is easily the best of the lot

    Well worth the wait (36)

    Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin