A tie would have been good enough

by Harry on August 27, 2019

When Leach was facing, with 2 to win, the tie was gone. If he was out, Australia would win. If he scored 2, England would win. And if he scored 1, Stokes would score the winning runs. But, from the point of view of the Ashes, a tie was as good as a win: either way England has to win more of the subsequent 2 matches than Australia: if Australia win one, or both are drawn, Australia keep the Ashes.

I tried to describe the scale of Stokes’s feat to someone who had no knowledge of cricket. Unfortunately, she proved to be completely ignorant of all sports, a remarkable accomplishment, but one that left me at a complete loss for analogies (I was going to reach for tennis, but even then — winning from 2 sets down and 5 games down in the third set doesn’t really capture it).

Lots of young people have said that this was the greatest innings ever, better even than Jessop at the Oval, or Botham at Headingley, and that this was a greater victory than Headingley 1981. But they weren’t born at the time and have only seen highlights of 1981, so what do they know? Even those of us who are old didn’t see Jessop in 1903, but we did watch Headingley ’81 with the same stunned disbelief as we watched Headingley ’19. Maybe, just maybe, Jessop’s innings matched this one. But those of us who saw Headingley ’81 and Headingley ’19, albeit on telly, surely agree that the youngsters are right.

What nobody has talked about is Watson and Bailey’s draw. If any of our readers witnessed Sunday’s game, and Watson and Bailey, please let us know how they compare. If you google “Watson and Bailey” from my location, you get a hairstylist in California.

On twitter, in response to a request from Ben Stokes, specsavers agreed to provide Jack Leach with a lifetime supply of eyeglasses.