The most interesting product of this match is the emergence, I think, of a new era in world cricket. Arguably, this process may have started since Johannesburg, but I think this match indicates the existence of a trend. No longer are the Ozzies automatically dominant in all forms of the game. The South Africans now occupy the number one spot in ODIs. Yet, this is not a change of hegemon, it is a duopoly. International cricket has two powerful sides that fight each other as equals, pushing each other forward and ultimately improving the global standard.
This last point is vital. No other Big Fish would have been able to seriously challenge the Australian score as the South Africans did in St. Kitts. Maintaining over seven runs an over throughout the course of an entire innings would have quickly exhausted most batting line-ups. Although the Ozzies did bowl out the South Africans, the steel and determination never left the Proteas’ chase. England would have simply folded without a squeak. Well, maybe a squeak, but nothing more than that. Bloody squeaking is all they do.
Anyway, these two mighty teams are driving each other to achieve greater feats. The performances required for victory are ever bigger in scale. What was impossible is rapidly becoming accepted as standard. The Australians hit 11 sixes in their innings, the SAs only 6. This may not have been the decisive statistic in the match, but it illuminates a change in the nature of modern cricket: exceptional and sustained batting is the norm in the highest level of cricket. At the moment, there is no way that any other nation can compete with either of these sides. Yet, the rivalry between two truly great sides is certainly engrossing. Long may they both continue to improve world cricket.
Whilst I was watching this match, I saw possibly the second-greatest catch of all time. It was a spectator, who, I believe, caught one of Ricky Ponting’s massive sixes. The ball shot from Punter’s bat like teeth from gran’s mouth – a real wizzer. This beer-belly in the crowd was merrily chatting away to his mate, whereupon he saw a missile streaming over his head. In a flash, a pork-pie sized fist jabbed into the air and plucked this rocket from out of the air before it broke the stand behind. Only one hand was available for this deed, as the other was holding a beer. I was stunned by this skill. I was going to put a picture of this accomplishment on my blog, but I think a cartoon will better convey the brilliance and instinct of the moment.
It was like that, only more beautiful.