227 DELIVERIES, 23 FOURS, 1 SIX
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA, 4TH TEST, HEADINGLEY, 2001
Australia 447 (Ponting 144, Martyn 118; Gough 5-103) & 176-4dec (Ponting 72) lost to England 309 (Stewart 76*; McGrath 7-76) & 315-4 (Butcher 173*, Hussain 55) by six wickets
OPPOSITION ATTACK: Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Mark Waugh
Mark Butcher’s talent had never been in doubt but after 27 Tests between 1997 and 2000 in which he’d averaged 25 and scored just two centuries it looked as though his England career had been and gone when he was dropped after the 1999/00 tour of South Africa.
He took the opportunity to remodel his technique with his dad – “my grip, my stance, my back-lift, everything” – and was handed a reprieve ahead of the 2001 Ashes after a spate of injuries.
After an 80 at Lord’s and a few starts, Butcher survived a breach of curfew to keep his place for the third Test at Headingley and produce a magical innings in an otherwise bleak summer for England.
‘I WAS GOING TO HAVE AS MUCH FUN AS POSSIBLE’
I’d got back into the side totally unexpectedly but I was going to be dropped for Headingley until Nasser managed to change [Duncan] Fletcher’s mind. I was out later than I ought to have been during the Trent Bridge Test but Nasser pointed out I was the only bloke to have made a score in the series, so I lived to fight another day. The weather intervened and Australia declared; McGrath cleaned up Athers early, as usual, and it was a hairy first session with the ball swinging all over the place. It was the best I ever batted for England. I’d got picked for no real reason other than injuries and I ended up flaying the best bowling attack in the world around the park. The whole summer was a fairytale for me. I decided if I was going to have another shot at this, I was going to have as much fun as possible. The whole thing was incredible really.
Mark Butcher, ‘The Definitive’, AOC 116