Australia v. Pakistan
18th-22nd November 1999
Bellerive Oval, Hobart
It is hard to believe that there was a time when Australia were merely thought of as “very good”. It took a staggering run-chase as the 20th century drew to a close before they were compared to the West Indies side of the 70’s and 80’s. Pakistan set Australia an enormous 369 to win. By the time Adam Gilchrist comes to join Justin Langer, Australia are 126/5 and almost down and out. Langer has scored 1 hundred in his last 12 tests, and Gilchrist is in his second test. Spin has already accounted for 15 wickets in the match, and Saqlain is responsible 7 of them.
It is Saqlain who takes the next wicket, only it falls at 364. Australia win the unwinnable and Gilchrist has arrived. Australia go on to win 16 matches in a row at the start of the 00’s, and the aura of invincibility gets stronger and stronger.
Despite this being in 1999, it is the moment when the dominant side of the noughties was set in stone.
Australia v Sri Lanka
WC Final 2007 – 28th April 2007
Kensington Oval, Barbados
Twenty20 cricket is taking the world by storm. Administrators, players and journalists are worried for the future of ODI cricket, and the World Cup needs to deliver. What it doesn’t need is over a month a half and 52 games of mostly meaningless cricket. By the time Australia beat Sri Lanka in typically farcical circumstances in the final, the world has lost interest
West Indies v. England
10th-14th April 2004
Antigua Recreation Ground, Antigua
In 1994, Brian Lara broke the world record for the first time against England in Antigua. Since then, the West Indies have declined at such an alarming rate that they have already lost at home to England for the first time in a generation. Hayden has made 380 against Zimbabwe to take the record. Lara himself looks finished – he struggles throughout the series against Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, and with the burden of captaincy has the tired eyes of a man performing the last rites of his career. On 0 in the final test of the series, in Antigua naturally, he is seemingly caught behind by Geraint Jones. Darrell Hair gives him not out, and replays prove inconclusive.
From there, he is unstoppable. In 582 balls of batting masterclass, he makes 400*. The king retains his crown, and the West Indies finally have something to cheer about. Lara makes 9 more centuries in two years before calling time on a career we will never see the likes of again.