That is a variation on what Sir Alex Ferguson said after Manchester United sneaked a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 final, I think it was, of the European Champions Cup/League/whatever they call it nowadays, with two late late goals in time added on for injuries.
This morning, England were overwhelming favourites to wrap this up by a hundred odd runs, with only two tail end wickets to get. But nobody had told the Assie batsmen that they were tail enders. They batted like batsmen, in conditions which, unlike yesterday when seventeen wickets fell, suddenly looked perfect for batting again. Shane Warne, having got himself out like a pub amateur in the first innings, batted beautifully, until, unbelievably, he was out hit wicket. He kicked his stumps over! And with sixty more runs needed that looked to be it. England were about to win a meaningful test match against Australia by fifty odd runs. Hurrah! When was the last time that happened?
But Lee and Kasparowicz carried right on. There was a close LBW that might have been given. A dropped catch at third man. And suddenly Australia were only one edged four from a win that would have given them a 2-0 lead in the Ashes series and England the biggest kick in the stomach in many a year. But then, Kaspar fended off yet another short ball from Harmison, Jones the Gloves held onto it, show-off umpire Billy Bowden raised his finger, and it was suddenly 1-1 when 2-0 to the Aussies looked a certainty. Two runs. Two runs!! Second narrowest test match win ever, apparently.
This has been a terrific game, which quite blotted me off the Samizdata screen for the duration. The commentators have a concept which they sometimes wheel out called the “champagne moment” of the match. Well this match had two champagne moments at least that will live long in the cricketing memory. There was Warne’s ball that bowled Strauss round his legs on Friday just before the close (Warne’s bowling throughout was a wonder), leaving England jittery instead of confident coming into Saturday. And then there was the perfect slower ball that Harmison bowled Clarke with, with the last ball of yesterday, which seemed to make England’s task this morning easy. There was the great game-turning over by Flintoff, which took Australia from 47-0 to 48-2 (Langer and Ponting) yesterday afternoon. There were eighteen sixes in this game, which is almost two per session, i.e. two more than you usually get.
And just to put the cherry on the cake, that geek-maniac Hughes who works for Channel 4 reckons that the final Jones catch was not out, because Kasparowicz’s hand was not touching the bat when the ball hit it. That LBW, on the other hand… There have been the usual crop of umpiring disagreements with the technologically better informed commentators, and they really must give the umpires the same toys as the commentators have.
You do not have to know what hit wicket or LBW or third man means to get the idea. Just translate all of the above into your preferred sport, and slap a hellishly tight finish on the end.
It really is humiliating how much this nonsense still matters to me. I keep telling myself that it – test match cricket between Australia and England – is only a game. Which is true. And King Lear is only a play, and Asia is only a continent.
And because of this particular only-a-game game, the rest of this Ashes series is going to twist my guts around for many more weeks yet.
Plenty more on this game here.