Cricket would have had a historic moment if West Indies skipper Jason Holder accepted Steve Smith’s offer to chase 370 in 72 overs to create excitement. But Holder denied. But, cricket has seen only once a brave decision to make a rain-marred boring Test match an exciting Test match.
In 2000, England’s tour of South Africa, the host was leading the series 2-0. With the last match to played at Centurion, much like the 2015/16 Aus-WI series where Australia were 2-0 up with the last match seeing such as offer. The visitors, just like West Indies, won the toss but elected to field. South Africa scored 155 for 6 on the first day before rain interrupted day’s play. In that match, the 3rd and 4th days were completely washed with the only difference being that the 2nd day has washed out without a bowl being bowled.
With the last day left for play, the match was on its way to an imminent draw. Much like Steven Smith, the South African captain Hansie Cronje made an offer to the visiting captain Nasser Hussain. The twist is here, Hussain accepted the offer.
Hansie Cronje talked to England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart before the start of the 5thday’ play and placed an offer for England to chase down 270 in 73 overs. England were not ready to accept the deal since they were how the pitch would behave after four days of rain. However, the ease with Klusener and Pollock played in the early overs of the first sessions on 5th day convinced the English skipper to take up the challenge.
Around 40 minutes into play, Nasser Hussain sent a message to Hansie Cronje to check whether the deal was still on. He asked, “how about chasing 250”? The target was intentionally kept low so that bargaining would make it around 260. However, Nasser Hussain was surprised by the ready acceptance of the deal by Hanse Cronje.
The deal was finalized as 245 in 76 overs rather than the original 270 in 73 overs. A four of the last ball of the 72nd over of the African innings made the target jump to 249 instead of the agreed 245. South Africa declared their first innings on 248 for 8, followed by England’s declaration on 0/0. South Africa forfeited
In the second innings, England chases down 249 and won the match
England were 102 for 4 when Michael Vaughan joined Alec Stewart on the crease. A partnership of 126 between the two brought life to England’s chase. However, when Alec Stewart fell on the total of 228 scoring 73 England were still had to make 21 with 5 wickets in hand. England lost three more wickets when they reached 240. The finale had become a real thrilling one with 9 required with 2 wickets left.
Darren Hough and Silverwood’s 11 run partnership saw England home with only 5 balls to go in the day. Michael Vaughan was adjudged man of the match for his match-winning knock of 69 runs off 108 balls.
The match was however later on tainted when five months after the conclusion of the match, Hansie Cronje confessed that he made his deal when some bookmaker had asked him to bring a result of the match. This was the first instance when match fixing was proven in cricket.