Nathan Astle 222, New Zealand v England, 2002


England 228 (Hussain 106; Drum 3-36, Cairns 3-58) & 468-6dec (Thorpe 200, Flintoff 137) beat New Zealand 147 (Hoggard 7-63) & 451 (Astle 222; Caddick 6-122) by 98 runs

OPPOSITION ATTACK: Andrew Caddick, Matthew Hoggard, Ashley Giles, Andrew Flintoff

After watching the Black Caps’ decapitation by New Zealand-born Andy Caddick for most of the fourth day, I’d had enough. It takes a lot for me to switch the telly off when there is cricket to be watched, but this had reached that threshold of pain.

My pregnant wife and I got in our Mitsubishi and headed to a shopping mall to buy a baby cot. That’s how thick the doom and gloom was.

And then Nathan Astle happened. Batting with the world’s greatest No.11, an injured Chris Cairns, at 333-9 Astle was producing a blitzkrieg of epic proportions in the hopeless chase for 550.

In a Porirua furniture shop, I wandered past a TV and joined a horde of fellow cricket fans to soak it all up. The 39-ball smash-fest that took him from 100 to 200 was some of the greatest hitting ever seen on this earth.

Yes, it was full of majestic timing and brute force; but it was the sheer relentlessness of the assault that took your breath away as the constant thwacking reverberated around the Christchurch concrete jungle. The trio of consecutive sixes off Caddick, and the one over long-on from Matthew Hoggard, were unforgettable.

The furniture shoppers and I dared to dream as the runs required dipped under 100, but then it was over. Astle was out, caught behind off Hoggard, with 99 still to get. A glorious and wonderful defeat was over.

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