Soon after Roger Federer defied age – again – to push Novak Djokovic within figurative inches of the crown, England took the World Cup, by literally a metre.
Never has the notion of not knowing what was going to happen been more relevant. At 9-8 in the fifth set in the tennis, a commentator mentioned there would be a match tiebreaker should it get to 12-12.
By the time Djokovic was speaking about his extraordinary victory, commentators on the cricket were explaining that should the super over be tied, England would win the trophy having scored more boundaries through the match.
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
I was aware of neither rule.
The tennis seemed to reach impossible levels of drama. The general perception that Novak is the world’s best player, plus his lengthy dominance over perhaps the world’s greatest ever player, suggested that he would surely finish the job in a canter at 4-2 in the fifth.
Then Federer reminded us for the millionth time that he is no ordinary human being, and broke Djokovic back. Then Federer lead 8-7, 40-15, with two championship points.
There was a brief moment to reminisce about a famous US Open semi-final in which Federer also had two match points against Djokovic, but the Serb came back. He couldn’t possibly do it again.
Then he did.
No time to reflect, of course, because the cricket was shaping up as even more dramatic.
Impossible, but true. Three balls to go, England need nine runs to win. New Zealand are closing, Ben Stokes is tiring. The ball is thrown at the stumps and Stokes dives.
Then the old and ridiculous adage of ‘what if it happened in a World Cup final?’ is ridiculous no longer. The ball deflects of Stokes’ bat and runs to the boundary for four for a total of six off that single ball.
Convention says you don’t run, but the rule says it must count if it reaches the boundary. Two balls later, the match is tied.
Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson are hopping, lunging and fending. Never before in their Test careers have I seen this champion Kiwi pair look so unsettled. New Zealand might have climbed to second in the Test rankings but the challenge they’re facing now is an alien one.