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by Matt Fotia |
As we all wearily push through our Monday, weak from the lack of sleep garnered by watching another test classic last night, let’s run through the enormity of what we all witnessed, should you have stayed up for it all.


In the final overs we saw raw emotion which created the final chaos.
And whilst we can point the blame at those in some of the starring roles, let’s all take a big deep breath and put ourselves in their shoes and feel some empathy for what they’re feeling.


The man of the hour is Ben Stokes.
Stokes bowled 24.2 overs in the second innings as a number five batsmen. He willed his side with the ball to a position where they could feasibly win. He was driven by his errors in the first innings. He wasn’t going to let them down again.


With the bat he started circumspectly. It was obvious he and Root were determined to win the grinding battle against Australia. Wear them down and edge closer. Do not allow the Aussies to run through us in a morning. Don’t let the country down.


He was two off 50 balls. He gradually sped up, egged on by fellow red head Bairstow who got the ball moving. Then he went to one of, if not his slowest ever half century.


He burnt his fellow wizard in Jos Buttler, but rather than crumbling with the guilt it seemed to will him on. Woakes came and went, King Jofra threatened but buckled and Stuart Broad copped another one on the toe, eerily similar to one from Mitchell Johnson a few summers ago. This time his tattooed vanquisher was James Pattinson.


Then he went for it, and he couldn’t miss. Ramps, switch hits, straight drives, slog sweeps, the lot. 70 became 60, which became 50 which quickly became 20.


20 became 10 and eight became two.


Now we all have surely had sporting moments where we are so nervous we cannot watch. But never have we been a player in the game.
Stokes does not watch Leach face two balls from Pat Cummins, the worlds number one bowler. He keeps his head down, almost using the crowd’s voice to inform him of the result. A combination of fatigue and the overarching adrenaline.


Whatever you think about Ben Stokes you have to appreciate his immense skill. He was unstoppable. Such was his ability, the Australian’s optimistically reviewed an LBW in an attempt to avoid bowling to him.
That’s twice this summer that Stokes has dragged his team – and nation – to glorious victory.


And the summer isn’t done yet.


Don’t forget Jack Leach.
His innings was for every number 11 around. Not attacking enough to bat at nine or 10, but solid enough that he can will himself to stand in line, determined to get through. Every ball is a new challenge.


Visibly shaking as he cleaned his glasses between balls, slowly calming himself down before each ball, pretending to be cool and calm as he undoes his gloves, his heart no doubt ready to burst through his chest, his arms filled with the weird sensation that comes from being so nervous.


He only scored one run, but what a run.


Now our boys;
Whilst we can throw out what they should’ve done on social media with the power of 20-20 hindsight, we can never understand the pressure they would’ve felt.


The whole crowd swinging with the momentum. They pretend they cannot hear them, that it doesn’t get through. But it does, they hear all of the songs, they tense up. The closer he (Stokes) gets to reeling them in, the more important each move becomes.


The sun beating down, their grip on the test match slowly loosening.
Every boundary Stokes hits seems to give him extra powers. Balls that were perfect for the previous 270 overs are now flying into the stands.


A chance comes your way – you give your all, so desperate to be the hero and fumble. You don’t have time to think.


Yes, they are professionals and they train for these situations, but it doesn’t make them immune to pressure. You cannot recreate that pressure.


We are all professionals at what we do, and all of us have made mistakes at work, often in desperation to finish the task at hand, or under the watchful eye of a superior.


Our mistakes usually don’t come on an international broadcast, with a nations hopes on the line.


Nor do they come with 30,000 people – inebriated ones at that – cheering on our demise.


And they don’t come after three frantic days in the sun. Or for majority of the squad, almost six months away from home.


Think before you tweet today. Remember these players are human.


Joel Wilson;
Fresh off being labelled a dunce on every possible media sphere, with the added pressure of a computer analysing and checking his every decision, Umpire Wilson will also be tense, desperate to avoid that new age public stoning again.


Umpires do not have a rest period.
They don’t get to put their feet up after the first innings. They are back out there again, needing to concentrate, whilst chaos unfurls around them.
What goes through their head is incomprehensible.


Watching the front line, where did it pitch ? Where did he release it from ? Is it angling down? Did he hit it ? Is it spinning or swinging? What about the bounce? What If I get this wrong ? What will people say about me?


We are entitled to feel frustration towards Joel Wilson for not giving that last LBW, as we willed on our side.


But remember that he is also human.


He is under pressure.


He has so little time to calibrate all of the possibilities, with 11 men pleading in his face, two staring on with their hearts in their mouths and the aforementioned 30,000 – those same well liquored ones – poised to burn him at the stake, should he raise his right index finger.


Rather then be hung out to dry as he was a couple of weeks ago at Birmingham, he decides to play it safe.


It is not crumbling under pressure.


It is weighing everything up and making an educated decision. It turned out to be wrong, but refer to the aforementioned words about the Australians.


We all make mistakes. Umpire Wilson’s just happens to be broadcast everywhere.


So rather than spending your day angrily posting, tweeting and venting, let’s all take a deep breath, step back and appreciate the history we just witnessed and anticipate the history we could witness in the coming weeks.


All of the players in the drama that unfolded last night are human. They have worries, anxieties, they feel pressure and they will be riding their respective emotions for a while. They are just like us, except we know about their every move.


We should feel privileged to have seen what we saw.


Appreciate the enormity of it all.


Don’t condemn the split second decisions and minor mistakes, that in grand scheme of life mean nothing at all.


Because overall, it was just a game – a bloody amazing one at that.

hese situations, but it doesn’t make them immune to pressure. You cannot recreate that pressure.
We are all professionals at what we do, and all of us have made mistakes at work, often in desperation to finish the task at hand, or under the watchful eye of a superior.
Our mistakes usually don’t come on an international broadcast, with a nations hopes on the line.
Nor do they come with 30,000 people – inebriated ones at that – cheering on our demise.
And they don’t come after three frantic days in the sun. Or for majority of the squad, almost six months away from home.
Think before you tweet today. Remember these players are human.
Joel Wilson;
Fresh off being labelled a dunce on every possible media sphere, with the added pressure of a computer analysing and checking his every decision, Umpire Wilson will also be tense, desperate to avoid that new age public stoning again.
Umpires do not have a rest period.
They don’t get to put their feet up after the first innings. They are back out there again, needing to concentrate, whilst chaos unfurls around them.
What goes through their head is incomprehensible.
Watching the front line, where did it pitch ? Where did he release it from ? Is it angling down? Did he hit it ? Is it spinning or swinging? What about the bounce? What If I get this wrong ? What will people say about me?
We are entitled to feel frustration towards Joel Wilson for not giving that last LBW, as we willed on our side.
But remember that he is also human.
He is under pressure.
He has so little time to calibrate all of the possibilities, with 11 men pleading in his face, two staring on with their hearts in their mouths and the aforementioned 30,000 – those same well liquored ones – poised to burn him at the stake, should he raise his right index finger.
Rather then be hung out to dry as he was a couple of weeks ago at Birmingham, he decides to play it safe.
It is not crumbling under pressure.
It is weighing everything up and making an educated decision. It turned out to be wrong, but refer to the aforementioned words about the Australian’s.
We all make mistakes. Umpire Wilson’s just happens to be broadcast everywhere.
So rather than spending your day angrily posting, tweeting and venting, let’s all take a deep breath, step back and appreciate the history we just witnessed and anticipate the history we could witness in the coming weeks.
All of the players in the drama that unfolded last night are human. They have worries, anxieties, they feel pressure and they will be riding their respective emotions for a while. They are just like us, except we know about their every move.
We should feel privileged to have seen what we saw.
Appreciate the enormity of it all.
Don’t condemn the split second decisions and minor mistakes, that in grand scheme of life mean nothing at all.
Because overall, it was just a game – a bloody amazing one at that.