The Best View in the House
June 27th 2013 by Alex Cusack |
Alex Cusack played an absolutely crucial role in Ireland’s infamous win over England at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, he put on 162 in just 17 overs with Kevin O’Brien and was also privvy to the best view possible of the fastest century in the history of the Cricket World Cup.
Cricket Ireland’s series of articles continues to build up to the biggest cricket match ever to come to Ireland, the RSA Challenge, which sees Ireland play England at the new international ground in Malahide on September 3rd. Every week, cricketireland.ie will have a different guest author writing about something relating to one of cricket’s oldest rivalries. This week with 10 weeks to go, Alex Cusack takes a look back on that famous balmy night in Bangalore.
It seems like a funny thing to say about one of the biggest days of your life, but I have to really think hard to remember back to that day against England two years ago in Bangalore.
It was our second group game in the 2011 World Cup and England were favourites, of course. We had been really disappointed to lose to Bangladesh two days before, where we felt we could have chased down their 200 odd. It was difficult to pick ourselves up but we put the loss behind us and we were looking forward to taking on the giants next door, to testing ourselves against one of the best teams around.
There is nothing like the nerves in your stomach when you’re waiting to go out and play in a big game, and there are not many occasions bigger than facing the old enemy in a World Cup. The boys were buzzing around the dressing room and the atmosphere was unbelievable. We just couldn’t wait to get out there.
We fielded first and the Poms made a daunting 327/8. I remember watching Trott and Bell bat together and thinking just how good a pitch it was. It could have been a whole lot worse, though, as we did well to restrict them in the last 10 overs and Johnboy picked up 4 wickets late which were crucial.
After keeping the score down somewhat, we went into the break with a more positive mindset than we might have. It wasn’t easy to pick ourselves up for the second innings but finishing well definitely helped us to put the first innings behind us and look ahead to the job at hand.
You’re always hopeful that two of the top order will get a good partnership going and score all the runs for you, but obviously that can’t happen all of the time and it didn’t happen that day. Stirlo (Paul Stirling) got off to a flyer and watching him blast it around was a great lift for the team in the face of a huge chase, we were up with the rate early and the pitch was batting like a dream.
Unfortunately, we suffered a collapse when we went from 102/2 to 111/5. As the wickets were falling I remember getting ready to bat and staying really calm. I wasn’t panicking, just thinking about what I had to do.
Before I went out to join Kevin (O’Brien), Simmo (Phil Simmons) told me just to play straight and I remember thinking that I should bring what I had been working on into the game, which is batting with intensity. I was looking to get my feet moving early on and get a start - that’s all. I suppose I was looking at the immediate future rather than the bigger picture, it was such a big picture!
When I made my way out to the middle, Kevvy and I had a quick chat. We spoke about keeping the scoreboard ticking over and settling things down a bit. We had lost some quick wickets and we didn’t want to lose another one but we had to keep scoring, so it was a case of balancing risk and reward. We said we would get a partnership going and sort it out from there.
What people forget about Kev’s innings is that he started relatively slowly. I mean, he wasn’t going berserk or anything but he’s still Kev, so we were going along pretty well. At one point around drinks we had a chat and decided to take the batting powerplay early and take the game to them - put the pressure on England and
As soon as we took that, Kev got going and started hitting sixes. I was just sitting back and watching him go for it. We’ve actually had a similar partnership before when we played against Hampshire. He was hitting big runs and I just got him the strike, so I did that again and it was spectacular to watch!
It was great to see players like Jimmy Anderson and Tim Bresnan getting frustrated and having a word with Kev, and then Kevvy smashing them for six! When he gets in the mood when he’s hitting the ball like that, you don’t need to say anything to him if you’re batting with him - you just let him at it!
He smashed some huge maximums that day, so it was nice to contribute a bit myself, I remember hitting Paul Collingwood for six. It’s always good to reach the boundary, especially against the English, even if mine only just crept over compared to Kev’s!
When Kevvy was approaching his century, Andrew Strauss had a half chance to catch him. The ball went up and I wasn’t thinking about anything at the time other than calling a run through and then we snuck through for a second after he put the catch down. They say luck favours the brave and you always need a bit of luck to win a game like that.
After Kev got his 100, we were up with the rate and some of the English guys started having a few more words; it was then that I realised we were in with a great chance of winning the game.
Press box at Bangalore stand and applaud Kevin O'Brien's fastest World Cup hundred. Don't often see that. Astonishing innings. #bbcworldcup— Adam Mountford (@tmsproducer) March 2, 2011
50 - Kevin O'Brien has the fastest ever World Cup century off just 50 balls. Dominating.— OptaJim (@OptaJim) March 2, 2011
When we needed about 60 to win, Ian Bell kindly told me not to mess it up. I asked him if he was starting to get worried - at that point I think the whole England team were more nervous than anyone watching could have imagined.
When we still needed over 50 to win, Kevin called me through for a run and then sent me back. You could say I sacrificed my wicket but I didn’t see it like that at the time, I just did what you do - tried my best to get back in at the bowler’s end and I thought I had made it until I saw the replay and I was out by a very small margin.
When I got back to the dressing room I was so frustrated, frustrated that I was out and there was still so much for the lads to do to get over the line. I took my gear off and took a moment to myself before I went out to sit by myself to watch the agonizing last few moments bit. I just hoped and prayed that the boys would do the last bit - I always preferred playing than watching and to have to watch as each run was counted down was excruciating, John and Trent were exceptional at the end.
Words can’t describe what I felt when we won, I was on top of the world. It was a privilege to be a part of one of the greatest games of cricket Ireland has ever played, and to have the best view in the house of the fastest century in Cricket World Cup history.
What a fantastic performance!! Kevin O'Brien was amazing! Should we laugh or cry: 338 to tie with India, then utterly stuffed by the Irish!!— Henry Blofeld (@blowersh) March 2, 2011
It is just 10 weeks to the RSA Challenge at Malahide