Jimmy Anderson stood with the bat in hand. All he needed to do was score two more runs for England to win the Test match and series against New Zealand. At a packed out Basin Reserve, he lined up to face Neil Wagner and as the ball came flying in, could do nothing but turn it into the grateful hands of Tom Blundell.
England had lost by one run. They became only the second Test team in history to lose by the narrowest possible margin and only the fourth team to lose a match having forced the opposition to follow on. We’ve already written about the impact that this defeat could have on the team, but Bazball produced one of the finest finishes to a Test match that we have ever seen.
Sporting finishes often provide great drama and we’ve taken a look at some of the other stunning finishes we’ve seen over the years.
England v New Zealand - Cricket World Cup - 2019
These two teams just love to produce drama.
Back in 2019, they produced arguably the greatest cricket match of all time. Both sides finished their 50 overs on 241 runs apiece, which led us to a Super Over - the likes of which we are unlikely to see in a final ever again. Stokes was heroic that day, somehow dragging his team (with a healthy dollop of luck as well) to that point.
Stokes and Jos Buttler came in for six pivotal balls and managed to score 15, but it didn’t look to be enough as Jofra Archer bowled a no ball with his first, and saw his third ball hit for six. However, come the final delivery with Marvin Guptill on strike, New Zealand still needed two runs to win.
“This is the moment!” Ian Smith iconic commentary began. “It's Archer to Guptill: 2 to win. (Guptill hits the delivery) Guptill's gonna push for 2! They've got to go! It's [the ball] gonna...(Roy fields) Roy's gonna go to the keeper's end...(Buttler takes the throw and downs the wicket) He's got it! England have won the World Cup! By the barest of margins! By the barest of all margins! Absolute ecstasy for England! Agony, agony for New Zealand!
The New Zealander’s words only added to what is possibly the greatest sporting moment of all time, and he managed to produce them when his country had just suffered the most heartbreaking loss. Simply stunning - on and off the pitch.
Liverpool v Arsenal - Division One - 1989
Who better than Clive Tyldesley to talk you through the greatest football finish of all time?
“Which has been the greatest English modern title decider? Was it 2012 Aguerooooo, or was it 1989?” he discussed with The Sportsman.
“What happened in 2012, not just one goal, but two Manchester City goals in stoppage time, even what we saw this season doesn't compare to the extraordinary drama of those few minutes. Martin Tyler, and Guy Mowbray on Match of the Day, captured those moments wonderfully. "I swear you'll never see anything like this ever again..." it is a big statement to make but actually - editorially - correct. We will never see anything like it again.
“But which was the greatest title decider? 1989... The two protagonists on the same field together. This was not like today, looking at the mobile phone to see how Liverpool are getting on, you had your eyes on the prize. The two teams were there.
“The other element, the obvious element that every Arsenal fan would know, is that 1-0 was not enough. When Alan Smith scored, Liverpool were still going to be champions. The goal difference was identical as indeed the points tally was at the end of the night, it was goals scored that gave Arsenal the title and so that second goal, scored ironically by a player who scored for Liverpool in an FA Cup final three years later, Michael Thomas - you cannot beat that in the top flight... I hate to talk about the Premier League because we weren't even in the Premier League era, but it is all the same. It is the top-flight English football - 92 didn't change that much, there was football before 1992.
"That is just the most dramatic last-day story that will ever be told."
Hamilton v Vestappen - F1 Abu Dhabi - 2021
The greatest sporting finish? Perhaps not. The most controversial? Almost certainly.
Sporting drama is so brilliant because it is natural. You can’t fake the emotion, or put the protagonists in a fake situation. With a few laps remaining of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was streaks ahead, racing away to win his record-breaking eighth world title.
Then, Nicolas Latifi crashed into a wall and brought out the safety car. Having trailed by 12 seconds, Max Verstappen was able to pit onto fresh tyres and as the cars queued up behind the safety car, more controversy struck. The lapped cars in between Hamilton in 1st and Verstappen in 5th were allowed to overtake, which left a one on one duel for the championship.
With the Dutchman on fresh tyres, there was only going to be one winner as he made a move stick on Hamilton and snatched victory from absolutely nowhere. Christian Horner was left delighted on the pit wall, while the rest of the planet cried foul play. Despite an appeal, Verstappen's first world title stood. It will never be beaten as the most staggering finish Formula One will ever see.