England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day August 25, 2013

Light fades on Oval party

It was a celebration of England. A celebration for Test cricket. It was loud. It was fun. It was nonsensical.
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David Warner made his way to the boundary and the crowd cheered. Then they gave him the Rocky theme song. Then they chanted "Warner, Warner give us a punch." Then Dave Warner scratched his backside and the crowd cheered.

The last day of the Ashes crowd was essentially like being in a T20 crowd where people actually understood the game.

People who have never screamed wide in their life, screamed at a ball slightly wide of off stump. People who only ever clap politely raised their hands above their heads. Spontaneous cheering took over normal human beings. Leg byes made people shriek. If there was a fancy dress booth behind the pavilion, the members would have hired batman costumes and danced on the balcony. Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott were told to get on with it. Kevin Pietersen's arrival was celebrated like Elvis's second coming.

It was not like a normal day of Test cricket in almost any way. It was like Test cricket had a pulse and meant something deeply. One guy ripped his shirt off at an Australian wicket. Forget politeness and muted enjoyment, this was a party. The England fans were here to party with their boys.

The Australia fans sat lifeless in one area, like wallflowers at a school dance. Their faces had 3-0, and for a time probably 4-0, written all over them. Their wallets had been worked over, their national identity had been worked over and now they had to sit at the party while the other team enjoyed every single minute. There was not a smile between them.

The rest of the crowd enjoyed every shot, booed every attempt at Australia slowing down the game and couldn't believe their luck that they were about to see an amazing win that almost none of them could have believed would happen. They were probably so excited, they never even noticed the light fade. Until the lights in the pavilion became obvious, there was no need too.

Then the party was stopped, as if the police said the music was too loud. No one agreed.

The way the crowd had formed into a cheering single entity that was intent on a good time, you could have been forgiven for thinking a riot was about to happen. Instead a lot of booing and literally a handful of empty plastic beer cups were thrown at no one in particular. Between the boos the crowd made the sound of confusion, which is hard to describe, but you know it when 20,000 people do it at once.

The umpires were booed as they walked off and then booed as they got their awards. Aleem Dar waved at them. The match referee was booed as well. As was the third and fourth umpire. If the umpires had a mascot, it also would have been booed.

The ground was still virtually full, except where the Australians had left. Those Aussies who remained sat in a tight group. Safety in very small numbers.

Shane Watson receiving the Man-of the-Match award was booed. It was hard to know why. When Mike Atherton announced Warner, there was more booing. But Warner had earned it. Atherton tried his best to educate the mob about the light rulings from a stage not facing half of them with slightly delayed audio. Surprisingly it didn't work.

Then Michael Clarke was booed. And then clapped. Even on a day you saw him try and drag the umpires off for bad light, he's still not the villain Ricky Ponting was for opposition fans.

Then Alastair Cook was booed. It wasn't a personal thing. He just tried to defend the umpires, and that was a no go area, even if you had just won the Ashes.

There was far more clapping of course. Sometimes during the boos. Sometimes just after. The players were cheered for each medal. They were cheered for each gesture. People cheered for the fireworks (which would have only been useful in conditions this dark). People cheered for champagne. People cheered as the players walked around the ground with their kids. People cheered for cheering's sake.

If you were watching on TV you wouldn't have understood it. You had to be there. See the excitement. Hear the noise. Feel the party. It was Test cricket at its very best. The crowd cheered. The crowd booed. The crowd were entertained.

It was a party. An Ashes party. A Test match party. A celebration of England. A celebration for Test cricket. It was loud. It was fun. It was nonsensical. It was cricket.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Green_and_Gold on August 28, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - Test cricket is simply the best format of cricket. It is where legends are born. ODI and T20 cricket is entertaining (and i dont mean to take anything away from them) but there is nothing special about them. To sit and watch an ashes match over 5 days, to see how a batsman makes a gritty ton when his team is in trouble, to watch the tactics and to see how a game can ebb and flow is brilliant - if it comes down to the final session and all 3 results are on offer - thats just the best (its not just cause its played like T20 cause you dont have the build up of the last 4 days) . A T20 does not offer that. Watching a bowler bowl 2 overs then come off does not allow that person to execute their skill of setting up a batsman - and same with a batsman trying to have a strike rate of 100+ - in fact you are being ripped off cause you are not seeing all the skill players have to offer. I certainly hope that Test cricket is here to stay!

  • on August 27, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    As a cricket fan who enjoys all three formats of the game I can happily say that each format has a different appeal but tests are not about to get swept under the carpet and forgotten about. Take the last ashes - does anyone remember anything about any of the ODIs or the T20s without checking cricinfo? Australia or England in India over the last year - again can anyone remember anything other than the Tests? The fact is test cricket can provide all manner or scenarios over a 5 day period and that is what makes it so absorbing. In a one day match you usually have a pretty good idea on who will win by the end of the 1st innings if not before

  • warnerbasher on August 27, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    Not related to the above article of course but today is the birthdate of the greatest batsman(by a country mile) of them all.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 27, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    I think this article by Kimber provides us a prophetical vision as to why test cricket will die out in the next few years and T20 will rule the game. Even the so called TEST cricket is interesting ONLY when it is played like T20 or an ODI. I hope some of the old test cricket romantics finally begin to see the truth. It also goes to show the true interests of fans, they LOVE limited overs cricket OR pro-active cricket rather. Traditional test cricket is like a snail-fest; it bores folks, well most of them in a large part of the world, and it simply isn't interesting. Time to move on dear test cricket.

  • BillyBlue on August 26, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Huh! Its funny how the crowd behavior here is portrayed & almost glorified as passionate & carnival like, but how do u think similar crowd behaviors in the subcontinent have been portrayed as, in the past? Some words that come to kind are unsportsman like, partisan, petty, not gracious, inconsiderate, my fav 'not in the spirit of the game', etc. Yes there have been a few rotten eggs in the sub continent, particularly in India, but never has an article been wriiten about an ordinary celebration at best, being rehashed & presented as the health & vibrancy of test cricket in the nation. What a bunch of hog wash.

  • NCP1 on August 26, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    All this excitement because Clarke decided to throw a challenge much like Gary Sobers would have done. Cook or any English Captain would have never done that and survived. Goes to show that One day type cricket is more popular. Never understand why we carry on playing two innings in a test in moern era instead of one inning in three days, it would still generate the same interest and test the same skills and save two days to play more interesting games.

  • KingOwl on August 26, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    So, according to Jarrod, this was a great game of test cricket because the atmosphere was like during a T20. Isn't that a bit sad, really?

  • on August 26, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    I couldn't have chosen a better first time to attend a test match live.. One line sums up the day best: "The last day of the Ashes crowd was essentially like being in a T20 crowd where people actually understood the game."

  • David_Jockel on August 26, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    great article. forget about all this talk of whether or not we are in the middle of a great era in english cricket. we are definitely in the middle of a great era of english language CRICKET WRITING. hats of to cricinfo.

  • on August 26, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    And i was told BARMY ARMY is the best crowd in the world ..EMM not after last night show sorry ..

  • Green_and_Gold on August 28, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - Test cricket is simply the best format of cricket. It is where legends are born. ODI and T20 cricket is entertaining (and i dont mean to take anything away from them) but there is nothing special about them. To sit and watch an ashes match over 5 days, to see how a batsman makes a gritty ton when his team is in trouble, to watch the tactics and to see how a game can ebb and flow is brilliant - if it comes down to the final session and all 3 results are on offer - thats just the best (its not just cause its played like T20 cause you dont have the build up of the last 4 days) . A T20 does not offer that. Watching a bowler bowl 2 overs then come off does not allow that person to execute their skill of setting up a batsman - and same with a batsman trying to have a strike rate of 100+ - in fact you are being ripped off cause you are not seeing all the skill players have to offer. I certainly hope that Test cricket is here to stay!

  • on August 27, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    As a cricket fan who enjoys all three formats of the game I can happily say that each format has a different appeal but tests are not about to get swept under the carpet and forgotten about. Take the last ashes - does anyone remember anything about any of the ODIs or the T20s without checking cricinfo? Australia or England in India over the last year - again can anyone remember anything other than the Tests? The fact is test cricket can provide all manner or scenarios over a 5 day period and that is what makes it so absorbing. In a one day match you usually have a pretty good idea on who will win by the end of the 1st innings if not before

  • warnerbasher on August 27, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    Not related to the above article of course but today is the birthdate of the greatest batsman(by a country mile) of them all.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 27, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    I think this article by Kimber provides us a prophetical vision as to why test cricket will die out in the next few years and T20 will rule the game. Even the so called TEST cricket is interesting ONLY when it is played like T20 or an ODI. I hope some of the old test cricket romantics finally begin to see the truth. It also goes to show the true interests of fans, they LOVE limited overs cricket OR pro-active cricket rather. Traditional test cricket is like a snail-fest; it bores folks, well most of them in a large part of the world, and it simply isn't interesting. Time to move on dear test cricket.

  • BillyBlue on August 26, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Huh! Its funny how the crowd behavior here is portrayed & almost glorified as passionate & carnival like, but how do u think similar crowd behaviors in the subcontinent have been portrayed as, in the past? Some words that come to kind are unsportsman like, partisan, petty, not gracious, inconsiderate, my fav 'not in the spirit of the game', etc. Yes there have been a few rotten eggs in the sub continent, particularly in India, but never has an article been wriiten about an ordinary celebration at best, being rehashed & presented as the health & vibrancy of test cricket in the nation. What a bunch of hog wash.

  • NCP1 on August 26, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    All this excitement because Clarke decided to throw a challenge much like Gary Sobers would have done. Cook or any English Captain would have never done that and survived. Goes to show that One day type cricket is more popular. Never understand why we carry on playing two innings in a test in moern era instead of one inning in three days, it would still generate the same interest and test the same skills and save two days to play more interesting games.

  • KingOwl on August 26, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    So, according to Jarrod, this was a great game of test cricket because the atmosphere was like during a T20. Isn't that a bit sad, really?

  • on August 26, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    I couldn't have chosen a better first time to attend a test match live.. One line sums up the day best: "The last day of the Ashes crowd was essentially like being in a T20 crowd where people actually understood the game."

  • David_Jockel on August 26, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    great article. forget about all this talk of whether or not we are in the middle of a great era in english cricket. we are definitely in the middle of a great era of english language CRICKET WRITING. hats of to cricinfo.

  • on August 26, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    And i was told BARMY ARMY is the best crowd in the world ..EMM not after last night show sorry ..

  • ramli on August 26, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    For test cricket to be at its very best ... you need ODI type setting for a finish ... otherwise, test cricket will be still boring ... to the same fans who had assembled at Oval!!!

  • satishchandar on August 26, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    So, the warmup for the Ashes down under is done and dusted.. Now starts the hype for real Ashes.. Why not they make it a a 10 match series with 5 in England and 5 in Australia? Would have been more engagin.. But might have been a rap too had England been 4-0 at the end of first leg and might have lead to too much meaningless games..

  • Blade-Runner on August 26, 2013, 7:13 GMT

    That was the first time I saw the umpires being booed anywhere in the world, let alone the match referee. "The match referee ???? :O " He must be still wondering what he did wrong.

  • on August 26, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    Enjoyed the article immensely, but would have appreciated Jarrod paying more attention to skipper Clarke, who was the prime architect in making it a wonderful day of cricket. Time wasting, poor light and umpires decisions are part and parcel of the game, but after all is said and done, I can safely say, Cricket is the greatest sport on the face of the earth.

  • Wallruss on August 26, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    Great article. I love Jarrod!

  • on August 26, 2013, 5:58 GMT

    Great piece of work by the writer

  • Insult_2_Injury on August 26, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    Plumb LBW, Front-Foot-Lunge. 2.6 an over from England 1st Innings only bolstered to that by bottom order having a swing, yet you call Clarke & Watson negative? Clarke declared both innings to CREATE a match rather than the yawnfest Cook was happy to end on. So 2 declarations from a Team 3-0 down in a series is bad for cricket? It gobsmacks me how people can see only one side. Last year England had a short dash at a fourth innings target, lost wickets and closed up shop to waste the rest of the day in a boring draw. Is closing up shop only allowed with the bat? Strange how earlier in this series we saw Broad retying his shoe constantly and Cook having a summit on field placements every second ball because Australia was in a postion to push for victory. How's that not fall in the same negativity category F_F_L?

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on August 26, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Hats off to both sides, especially the Australians for not allowing the game to drift. In the end, the England innings pretty much explained why they were the better side: the hosts just found a way to crank up their game when it mattered most.

  • sweetspot on August 26, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    It was all of the above. A party, a celebration, a loud celebration, fun, nonsensical, and cricket. A little more starkly, it was RARE, and that's the problem with Test cricket.

  • Insult_2_Injury on August 26, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    Never seen a greater collection of tools than the crowd today. Mob rules? The weather conspired to potentially have this series end in a wimper and the Australian captain - already 3 down - declared twice in an attempt to WIN a game. The by product, of course, was that the paying public got to cheer Australian wickets falling and English batsmen scoring boundaries, yet still they booed. Unbelievably they booed Clarke for slowing the game. What? After England 1st Innings crawled along at 2.61 runs an over and their bowlers go off every 15 minutes to comb their hair! You're right Kimber; it was Test cricket at its best....thanks entirely to the Australian Captain for attempting to make a contest. We all know England never has and never will risk defeat to win. As for the crowd; they came to a party held by Michael Clarke and booed the host for giving them value for money.

  • humdrum on August 26, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    Now then,if only cook had not wasted so much time in nannying his bowlers and slow over rates,maybe england would have been through.So I guess he,at least,deserved his boos.

  • on August 26, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    Every time I saw an Aussie in the crowd they were smiling... probably smiling because Clarke brought life into a dead match by being aggressive and declaring so boldly in an attempt to do what every sporting team gets paid to do - win the game!

  • Dashgar on August 26, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    I hope the England fans saved a big cheer for Clarke. If not for him there would have been none of the entertainment they enjoyed. Just look at how Cook treated the crowd when the match was on his terms on day three.

  • swarzi on August 26, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    Congratulations for both England and Australia. They have shown that test cricket can be just as exciting as any of the limited overs formats. Those mean English men who used to play the game just to please themselves should understand that cricket has devolved long ago, from this boring selfish affair to a game that people expect entertainment from when they pay their money. This whole stupid idea that 'England is not going to give Australia a match' is no longer part of the psyche of international cricketers. The modern cricketer now knows that people come to see them play the best possible cricket, regardless of the outcome; and this is how the modern players play their cricket.

  • jmcilhinney on August 26, 2013, 1:00 GMT

    I have to say, I'm never a fan of booing. Someone has to do something very serious to warrant being booed as far as I'm concerned. I think that it's quite disgusting that the crowd booed the umpires. Maybe when the players were taken off you could defend it and say that they were booing the situation but to boo the umpires when receiving their medals is a disgrace. We would have no game without those men who perform a job that most of us would be woefully incapable of. They were doing as they were obliged to by the rules and, even then, they had almost certainly kept the players on longer than they should have; than they would have on almost any other day. They've made some mistakes but they do their best, ball after ball, day after day. They deserve far more respect and gratitude than they received.

  • on August 26, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    Splendid article, fantastic day of cricket. Huge credit to Pup who manufactured delightful drama, and absolutely no problem with him forcing the light issue after he'd single handedly set the day up. What a contrast to Day 3. Test cricket. Bloody hell

  • Jayzuz on August 26, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    Great that it ended in such a fun way. In the end it was only just that England did not win, as they were the second best team for 90% of the game, and by a long way. And a win for Australia was just about impossible, unless you think ten wickets in a prolonged session on a track used for only three days is a likely outcome. Given that a festive finale was the best result we could hope for.

  • MDean on August 25, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    "It was test cricket at its very best". No, it wasn't - nothing like. Test cricket can only be at its best when the series is at stake. This was a jolly inconsequentiality. A bit of fun for those who were there, but a long way from test cricket at its best. For test cricket to be at its best, the standard has to be high and the stakes have to be high. Try some of the passages of play from the England v Australia series of 2009 or 2005 if you need to be reminded of test cricket at its best. The Oval test of 2009 was test cricket several levels above the Oval test of 2013.

  • swarzi on August 25, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Congrats to both teams for reminding us all that test cricket can just be as exciting as any of the forms of limited overs cricket. Those English commentators who played the game to an almost boring death, in their days, never thought that England should have ever even tried to pursue a win out of the match, regardless to how generous Michael Clarke's declaration might have been. Most of them did not appreciate Shane Warne quizzing them about the possibilty of a win! They were looking for Alistair Cook and his men to just apply the old mean-spirited method of locking up shop and take no risk - England had already won the series 3 to nothing - that was enough! If they took the risk and tried to win, but lose, it would be Hitler reincarnated and returning successfully to invade England! But congrats to this new England team and their new paradigm of trying to win each match they play these days. They entertained the paying public and they really desrved to win, but better luck next time!

  • OhhhhhMattyMatty on August 25, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    Clarke broke the spirit of cricket today. It may never recover!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 25, 2013, 21:40 GMT

    Clarke's declaration was only because Australia needed to win at least one test but couldn't they couldn't take wickets on day 3. England just said 'try to get us out and we'll watch you wilt in the heat'. Well Clarke and Watson certainly wilted under pressure today. Timewasting and negative bowling tactics like we saw today is bad for the game and reflected very poorly on Australia right in the last breaths of the series. Needless to say England have all the momentum going into the next series. But above all, England needed just 20 in FOUR overs. Common Sense and the fact that England deserved this victory given how close they got, should've meant the game was extended for just the 10 or so minutes required to complete the game. Australia get lucky again, but on their flat pitches Cook and co are going to have yet another field day. Who could forget 2010/11, players like Root could break records over there in 3 months' time.

  • Stumay on August 25, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    I would boo you, but it's just too dark to see you as I have the lights on full blast.l

  • Inducker on August 25, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Unfortunately it was only the number 2 test team playing the number 4 test team.

  • on August 25, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    Jarrod you captured the mood perfectly. I am normally a restrained fan but somehow found myself standing with my 66 year old father and the rest of the OCS stands following the Barmie's entreaties about 3-0...

  • M.Usman-Sharif on August 25, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Let Aus fans remain in IFs and BUTs... Its 3-0... how can they take aus win for granted in 3rd test? could have been a draw easily with 70 overs left and 7 wickets in hand... eng middle order is always doing such wonders... and what if there was no rain in 5th test, Eng could have won even if Clarke had not declared... Whatever u say, its 3-0. better team won. Go home and prepare for the return ashes. Dont temper the scoreline.... And just plan for what can happen if cook and trott find form??? 517-1, anyone remember???

  • Big_Chikka on August 25, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    i do love cricket but the end was thoroughly engineered to try and smooth away the feeling of paint drying. what we witnessed was essentially a mix of genuine happiness in the victory by the team, cricket people, and those who came for a party, the latter perhaps because the Notting Hill Carnival doesn't kick in proper till tomorrow......... add to that a woeful recession and the prospect of more war and its easy to understand why people might need relief. then look at the celebrations and the anthems etc....... and its easy to understand this isn't just a game, its a business, backed up by highly paid people using social media........to make money and occupy us all. some willingly, some unwillingly.

  • CricketChat on August 25, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    With lights available, the game should have been continued since a result seemed possible. The paying fans and followers rest of the world deserved to see the match played through. It won't be long before fans would say, "No result, No Test". And rightly so.

  • on August 25, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber - by far the most entertaining cricket writer around today. please bring back the 2 chucks!

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  • on August 25, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber - by far the most entertaining cricket writer around today. please bring back the 2 chucks!

  • CricketChat on August 25, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    With lights available, the game should have been continued since a result seemed possible. The paying fans and followers rest of the world deserved to see the match played through. It won't be long before fans would say, "No result, No Test". And rightly so.

  • Big_Chikka on August 25, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    i do love cricket but the end was thoroughly engineered to try and smooth away the feeling of paint drying. what we witnessed was essentially a mix of genuine happiness in the victory by the team, cricket people, and those who came for a party, the latter perhaps because the Notting Hill Carnival doesn't kick in proper till tomorrow......... add to that a woeful recession and the prospect of more war and its easy to understand why people might need relief. then look at the celebrations and the anthems etc....... and its easy to understand this isn't just a game, its a business, backed up by highly paid people using social media........to make money and occupy us all. some willingly, some unwillingly.

  • M.Usman-Sharif on August 25, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    Let Aus fans remain in IFs and BUTs... Its 3-0... how can they take aus win for granted in 3rd test? could have been a draw easily with 70 overs left and 7 wickets in hand... eng middle order is always doing such wonders... and what if there was no rain in 5th test, Eng could have won even if Clarke had not declared... Whatever u say, its 3-0. better team won. Go home and prepare for the return ashes. Dont temper the scoreline.... And just plan for what can happen if cook and trott find form??? 517-1, anyone remember???

  • on August 25, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    Jarrod you captured the mood perfectly. I am normally a restrained fan but somehow found myself standing with my 66 year old father and the rest of the OCS stands following the Barmie's entreaties about 3-0...

  • Inducker on August 25, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Unfortunately it was only the number 2 test team playing the number 4 test team.

  • Stumay on August 25, 2013, 21:34 GMT

    I would boo you, but it's just too dark to see you as I have the lights on full blast.l

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 25, 2013, 21:40 GMT

    Clarke's declaration was only because Australia needed to win at least one test but couldn't they couldn't take wickets on day 3. England just said 'try to get us out and we'll watch you wilt in the heat'. Well Clarke and Watson certainly wilted under pressure today. Timewasting and negative bowling tactics like we saw today is bad for the game and reflected very poorly on Australia right in the last breaths of the series. Needless to say England have all the momentum going into the next series. But above all, England needed just 20 in FOUR overs. Common Sense and the fact that England deserved this victory given how close they got, should've meant the game was extended for just the 10 or so minutes required to complete the game. Australia get lucky again, but on their flat pitches Cook and co are going to have yet another field day. Who could forget 2010/11, players like Root could break records over there in 3 months' time.

  • OhhhhhMattyMatty on August 25, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    Clarke broke the spirit of cricket today. It may never recover!

  • swarzi on August 25, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Congrats to both teams for reminding us all that test cricket can just be as exciting as any of the forms of limited overs cricket. Those English commentators who played the game to an almost boring death, in their days, never thought that England should have ever even tried to pursue a win out of the match, regardless to how generous Michael Clarke's declaration might have been. Most of them did not appreciate Shane Warne quizzing them about the possibilty of a win! They were looking for Alistair Cook and his men to just apply the old mean-spirited method of locking up shop and take no risk - England had already won the series 3 to nothing - that was enough! If they took the risk and tried to win, but lose, it would be Hitler reincarnated and returning successfully to invade England! But congrats to this new England team and their new paradigm of trying to win each match they play these days. They entertained the paying public and they really desrved to win, but better luck next time!