One of the great Test innings from Ben Stokes has seen England win the Third Test by one wicket- but the Aussies had two golden chances to retain the Ashes.
The events which transpired on the stage of world cricket in the past 48 hours carry much greater significance than they would had the results been reversed.
Victories to the West Indies over England on foreign soil, followed by Bangladesh’s historic first every Test victory over Australia at home, have been touted as calamitous for the losers by many.
Yet, had the spoils fallen on what was predictable, question marks surrounding gaps in quality between Test-cricketing nations would have only persevered, and praise for the victors would have been shunned until they play a ‘real’ side.
But for these cricketing nations, their triumphs stand to symbolise what may have faded in the absence of victory.
For the visitors to the mother-land of Test cricket, the unlikely success is representative of Hope for the future – pun intended.
Their series was scheduled on the backend of a three-match series against ‘worthy’ opponents, South Africa – the main event. To justify their presence in the series, they were handed the inaugural day-night Test match for both teams, clearly set up for England’s benefit to prepare them for the day-night Ashes Test in Adelaide in December.
If the Windies were not already red-faced after their first match belting, they were labelled as the “worst ever Test side” ex-English batsman Geoffrey Boycott had seen, who went on to find himself in hot water by making a racist remark, saying he would have to “black my face” to have a better chance of knighthood – something he later apologised for.
Whether these circumstances provided any motivation towards an unlikely Test victory is insignificant. The West Indies were admittedly trounced in the first Test, beaten by an innings and 209 runs, making their victory by five wickets on Tuesday all the more remarkable.
They were given a glimmer of hope in their first dig, with opener Kraigg Brathwaite combining with number five Shai Hope for 281 runs between them, only to back that up with a further 213 runs in the second innings.
There is always symmetry to be found in Test cricket, making it beautiful by definition. Here is no exception.
The last time the West Indies won a Test series was against Bangladesh in 2014. The last time Bangladesh won a Test series was the series which succeeded it in 2014-15.
Now the eighth and ninth-ranked Test cricketing nations, respectively, have an opportunity to claim their first Test series win in three years against those who are ranked third and fourth.
Both undoubtedly see these series as nothing more than an opportunity to gather momentum leading into the Ashes later this year.
But, while the Windies have needed to stretch for respect in the recent past through individual efforts, the Bangladesh Tigers have collectively demanded recognition of their cricketing abilities since reaching the quarter-finals in the 2015 World Cup and drawing four Test series against top cricketing nations since.
However, they were still yet to achieve the feat of beating Australia, anywhere.
Amid North Korea teetering on the brink of global disaster, Tropical Storm Harvey displacing thousands of Houstonians, and over 18,000 refugees fleeing from Myanmar into Bangladesh itself, the Tigers’ classy victory has unequivocally brought joy to many more individuals threatened by international tragedies than had the probable occurred.
In a global context, the West Indies victory can give symbolic hope to civilians who have none, and Bangladesh’s win might point to momentum swings towards those who have demanded liberty.
From a cricketing perspective, these victories will re-ignite a withering West Indian flame, and will only amplify the sound of that Tiger roar for all cricketing nations to hear.
If anything, these defeats may only serve England and Australia well as they each continue to find the right balance to their sides for the clash of greatest consequences in just three months’ time.
If they were to each lose their current respective series’, the Ashes tale will only grow.