Mid-off was too deep; it was an easy single.
Perhaps it was a single being offered.
Either way, Kane Williamson saw the fuller delivery from Mitchell Starc, and weighted it beautifully for a run.
“Ooh, no, I think he’s going to regret that.”
As far as predictions go, I fear I was alone with it. No commentator made note of it, the ESPNCricinfo live scores failed to see the imminent doom.
It brought back to me the fourth Test of the 1998-99 Ashes. In the Australian first innings, Steve Waugh had taken singles, played along with Alec Stewart’s attempts to get Stuart MacGill on strike. It had worked; Waugh made a century, MacGill 43.
In the second innings, and the final innings of the match, Waugh and MacGill were again saving the Australian batting performance. This time, however, they were crawling to the win.
Waugh claimed the extra half hour at the end of the day’s play; better to face the bowlers while they’re exhausted, than tomorrow when they’re refreshed, he figured.
Darren Gough ran in, Waugh took a single. Twelve to win. No reason to shepherd the tailenders; it’d worked so well in the first innings. Waugh’s reasoning was almost faultless.
“As Stuart MacGill had batted so well in the first innings, I decided to show faith and back him to do the job….Adrenaline pumping, I clipped the first ball and set off madly in search of two, but in my haste misjudged the pace with which I’d hit it and the intuition of the fieldsman. I quickly realised that the second run would be suicidal. Instantly, my gut reaction told me that the fact I was now off strike was trouble, but I tried to quell my uneasiness by thinking about the resilience Stuey had shown in the first innings. However, within three balls my worst fears had materialised, with a bowled and an lbw leaving us losers by 12 runs”.
Back to Eden Park.
Mitchell Starc came running in. The number nine suddenly seemed totally out of place. Starc looked the perfect fit.
The stumps were scattered. Eight down, six to win.
Tim Southee. A First Class 150 under his belt. A bit of a tendency to slog.
A lot of a tendency to slog.
And slogging 150km/h yorkers doesn’t work.
Nine down, six to win.
Trent Boult. The perma-eleven, despite a Test match half-ton. Despite countless resilient knocks.
Starc visualising the delivery, Boult just needing to defend.
Dead on…but a dot ball.
One ball left. One wicket left. Six to win.
Starc tearing in again, for what will almost certainly be his last delivery, no matter who wins.
The length is perfect, a searing yorker…
But it’s well outside off.
End of the over. Kane Stuart Williamson takes strike. Patrick Cummins delivers a perfectly reasonable delivery, but Williamson plays a gorgeous lofted drive. Six runs. None to win – New Zealand are victors by a solitary wicket.
It was a knock of 45 not out; yet it was one of the best Williamson has ever played. It was mature, calculated. Every shot, every delivery was calibrated by New Zealand’s batting enigma-breaker.
But that one moment: a beautiful shot, perfectly played, judged well. How wrong could it have gone?
Kane Williamson, the hero of New Zealand, could so easily have been the villain.