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Match Analysis

Carlos Brathwaite, Ian Bishop, Jimmy Neesham and what gets remembered

It seemed impossible, but Carlos Brathwaite so nearly pulled it off. From both sides the skills on show were incredible

Carlos Brathwaite smashes a six over point, New Zealand v West Indies, World Cup 2019, Manchester, June 22, 2019

Carlos Brathwaite smashes a six over point  •  Getty Images

The things we remember.
Carlos Brathwaite lives with the burden of three words spoken more than three years ago. "Remember the name," screamed - justifiably - Ian Bishop into the microphone as Brathwaite hit Ben Stokes for four straight sixes in the final over of the World T20 final in Kolkata to win a lost title.
Three years later, at Old Trafford, Brathwaite is facing Matt Henry, whose World Cup so far reads: 42.2 overs, two maidens, 211 runs and eight wickets. That is an economy of just under five and an average of 26.38. Tonight has been an off night for him. He has gone for 51 in his eight.
Brathwaite - 74 off 70 - has a No. 11 for company. There is 33 required off the last three overs. Brathwaite gets a top edge for two, but then unleashes mayhem. Three straight sixes. Three morale-crushing, soul-destroying sixes for the bowlers. Henry is trying to execute a plan. A short-of-a-length ball has flown over long-on. A wide yorker - slightly off the mark - has flown over point. By the next one Henry is a wreck and offers a full toss.
Stokes is reminded of that night three years ago by his mentions, but Brathwaite is not reminded of it. He is thinking of his struggling team, his coach - who is remembered as the captain who led them to a series defeat against Bangladesh and now needs this win as coach, his own fledgling career. Since that Kolkata final, he has played 158 innings in official cricket - all first-class, List A and T20 cricket - and has reached fifty only five times. There is no innings in the last three years to remember him by.
"Remember the name" has become a bit of a joke whenever Brathwaite's name comes up. That match is the last thing he remembers right now. He remembers the defeat to Afghanistan that came before the win in the final. Bet you don't. Bet you don't believe this ever happened to him. West Indies need 10, seven balls to get, tail for company. Brathwaite taps a full toss for a single to leave himself nine to get in the last over. He fails.
Brathwaite remembers his dismissal to Mitchell Starc this World Cup. They need 47 off 28, and he is trying to be responsible. He lobs up a full toss from Starc instead of smacking him. He can't clear mid-on. It haunts him. This is what happens in cricket. You fail more often than you succeed. You can end up remembering failure more than success.
So it is these things that have gone through Brathwaite's mind as Jimmy Neesham bowls an over full of bouncers. West Indies need six off seven. He still has a No. 11 for company. He has to decide whether to look for one or hit a six. If he misses with the big hit, does he trust Oshane Thomas to get him back on strike? In a 41-run stand, Thomas hasn't scored a run. All he has had to do is get bat on ball. Just stay there. Somehow not get out. Does he take a single, repeat what he has done and failed before, or does he go for the big hit and then risk having Thomas on strike if he misses or if he even hits a four?
Brathwaite remembers what happened when he didn't go for the six. He tells Thomas to be on the "high alert" for the single, but if it is in his zone, he is going for the six. "Stay still, react to the ball; don't premeditate; if it is not in your zone, get single; if it is, maximise and get a six."
Same man Bishop is on air, Brathwaite is still in his stance, bat held high, ready to pounce on an error, Neesham continues with the short ball, Brathwaite gives it all he has got. The ball goes up in the air towards the long-on fence.


So you enjoyed the game? The chaos. The nerves. The possibilities. The glory. The heartbreak. You felt emotions. Raw emotions. You loved and hated cricket at the same time. Now it is time to appreciate how deliberate and precise these extraordinary cricketers can be in such tense, nervous, chaotic, emotional times.
Could Brathwaite have taken the single off the last ball? Could Klusener have waited another ball all those years ago? Could Steyn have bowled a yorker or a bouncer instead of length in the semi-final four years ago? These are questions we on the outside will debate more than those who make them
Brathwaite has lost No. 10 Sheldon Cottrell to a beauty from Lockie Ferguson, who has been amping the pace up all tournament. This is the end of the 45th over, West Indies still have 47 to get. Brathwaite meets Thomas and tells him the next two overs are going to be bowled by Trent Boult and Ferguson. They are also going to be their last overs. If they can survive that, they can target the last three. Brathwaite tells him to forget about scoring. Just defend your wicket with your life. He tells Thomas if they can bat through those two overs, they will need around 30 off the last three overs. They need 33.
Brathwaite makes sure Thomas faces only four of these 12 balls. He has planned everything out perfectly. He believes he can now do it is sixes, and he has started to do it.
The man bowling the 49th over, Neesham, almost gave up cricket. He was in a funk over many issues, one of which was coming to terms with not getting results that match your effort. In other jobs there is usually a tangible result. In cricket, you need to be philosophical about the outcome because of the luck and many other variables involved. He has come back at peace with results. This is a time when you do with the newfound philosophical attitude, but that doesn't mean you leave it to luck. You plan the hell out of it.
The plan then is: if you try a yorker, forget about the game. Brathwaite needs eight off 12, and these modern batsmen spend hours trying to hit low full tosses or full balls for sixes. Brathwaite has already shown bowling full is a no-go. Neesham has one advantage Henry didn't: from this end, the leg-side boundary is big. So he and Williamson talk. Nothing in the wheelhouse. Not even on a length. Stack the leg-side field and make him pull or hook.
Now there is a fine line between a good bouncer and a wide ball on height. And you can bowl only two of those above the shoulder. You are taking inches here. Neesham knows he has another advantage here. Brathwaite is close to six-and-a-half-feet tall. So he tells himself he is going to try to get it as high as he can, which at his pace might only be to the shoulder and the chin. He has mid-on and mid-off up; he reckons there could be a catch there.
The first ball is slightly off, but it is still short enough to not let Brathwaite get under it. He can't drive it, he can't hook it, but this only draws a defensive shot. The next two are proper bouncers. One of them is called one for the over, Neesham thinks. Some feel neither of them is. Be that as it may, New Zealand now feel they have done too much of the same thing. The line for all three is outside off, and that is the plan. To make him drag it across and hopefully top-edge. These three balls have gone exactly according to a pin-point plan. Just as Brathwaite has gone with his.
Now they bring the cover up, and send long-on back. They are telling Brathwaite if he plays the inside-out shot over the covers, he is the better man and deserves the win. But they also covering the long-on fence because he might be lining him up. And with the field change, Neesham changes the line, moving it towards the stumps. There is no error. Only precision. Brathwaite gets the better of the first one, pulling it to deep midwicket, where Martin Guptill is not at his absolute best and lets Brathwaite steal the strike again.
The couple allows a momentary break in the tension. Brathwaite celebrates his hundred, New Zealand wicketkeeper Tom Latham even claps him, and it is back to business again. Now Neesham is back to the bouncer. He rolls his wrist on this one. Beats Brathwaite. He looks nervously at the umpire for a signal that he believes could bar him from bowling another bouncer. The umpires show they are extremely precise too. They see the slower bouncer has dipped enough when crossing the batsman for it to not be called one for the over. Replays back them up. Everybody is on top of his game here.
Neesham now knows he has a bouncer in the tank. He is going to bowl it. Brathwaite, waiting for any change-up, knows deep within it is going to be a bouncer. Neesham knows he has had some success at making Brathwaite make more decisions than he wants to, but he doesn't know of the demons inside Brathwaite's head. He still believes Brathwaite is going to go for a six because as a batsman he knows when you are striking so cleanly and you are just one shot away, it is tempting to back yourself to do that one more time.
"Remember the name" has become a bit of a joke whenever Brathwaite's name comes up. That match is the last thing he remembers right now
Same man Bishop is on air, Brathwaite is still in his stance, bat held high, ready to pounce on an error, Neesham continues with the short ball, Brathwaite gives it all he has got. The ball goes up in the air towards the long-on fence.
Neesham knows this is not sweetly connected. "There is a pretty distinct sound when the West Indies boys connect." Imagine the intimidation when you know the hits sound different. This one, though, is not out of the screws, but Neesham also knows Brathwaite doesn't need to nail it to get it over the fielder.


If he doesn't do anything else the rest of his cricketing life, Boult can retire with a perfectly acceptable and exciting highlight reel of stunning - ridiculous, really - catches. He has failed to add to it this evening. Running back, keeping an eye on the ball as he does, diving full length, but failing to latch on to a top edge from Chris Gayle. Gayle has unleashed carnage after that. If Boult had added to the highlight reel, we wouldn't have come down to this.
But we have come down to this. Boult is the man sent back to the long-on fence on the fourth ball of the 49th over. They are expecting Brathwaite to take that man on if he wants to go for a six. That man, though, is expecting Brathwaite to tap it for one and take on five off the last over. Boult doesn't even know who is going to bowl the 50th over if that happens. Perhaps even captain Kane Williamson doesn't.
Brathwaite doesn't wait for it, though. This one is not short enough to a proper bouncer, and Brathwaite feels this is his ball. The line is straighter than earlier, which cramps him up a touch, which means he doesn't time it sweetly, but remember he doesn't need to. He can mis-hit sixes, but these are not small boundaries. Okay the straight one is shorter than the square ones, but Old Trafford is not a small playing field.
Boult thinks it is going to land "quite a way inside the rope", but he is surprised by the power Brathwaite has got on it. He back-tracks a little, and parks himself near the rope, but you can see he is not on the edge because of the slight initial misjudgement. He times his jump perfectly, overhead and to his right, both hands to it, and looks immediately at the rope. He is ready to do the old trick of lobbing it up, stepping out and coming back in to take the catch. Guptill, from deep midwicket, has come around in case Boult wants a relay catch. As it turns out he is well in - well it is only a couple of metres, but in this precise environment it is a comfortable margin.
Same man Bishop is on air. "The dream is diminished for Carlos Brathwaite," he screams.


Could Brathwaite have taken the single off the last ball? Could Klusener have waited another ball all those years ago? Could Steyn have bowled a yorker or a bouncer instead of length in the semi-final four years ago?
These are questions we on the outside will debate more than those who make them. Or at least that should be the case. For often, there are no right or wrong decisions at such times. Both have equal merit. What matters is how clearly you execute the decision you make. Most professional dressing rooms analyse these situations that way. Brathwaite's dressing room too. He is not going to beat himself up over choosing to go for it. Nor should he.


Brathwaite is down on his knees. You wonder what he is thinking in that moment. Is he at all? He says he is not even aware of his senses enough to register the congratulations and commiserations from the graceful New Zealand players. Ross Taylor is the first one to go to him. He is on his knees at this time, his sinking head kept afloat only by his bat handle. We are humans too, Taylor says. We felt sorry for him. Brathwaite is honest enough to admit it didn't mean much at all at that time, but he knows New Zealanders are "some of the best people" to be opponents or team-mates with.
Brathwaite is more honest about his feelings about the century. It is a cliché to say it doesn't mean anything if it doesn't result in a win, he says. This one has taken a lot of pressure off him. To know he can bat, to know how he should bat, but not having done it for a long time has been killing him. "It is a result of all the hard work I put in. It is finally good to see it come to fruition."
And yet, the dream is diminished. The things we will remember.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo