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The Stuff Of Our Century (21-30)

To celebrate the recent publication of our 100th issueAOC staffers and contributors put their heads together and came up with list of the hundred things that made our century what it was (starting May 2004). In no particular order, here is the third part of our ton.

West Indies World T20 Win


Articulated by Dwayne Bravo in the immediate aftermath of the West Indies’ win over Sri Lanka in the ICC World Twenty20 final, we believe the direct translation is: “We’re back!” Only time will tell if it proves to be the beginning of the sustained revival we all crave, but the early signs are good with Chris Gayle ‘reintegrated’ and Marlon Samuels batting like a world-beater. Jeff Thomas

Why we love it: Freewheelin’ fun gave a glimpse of a brighter future.

Match-Saving Tenth-Wicket Partnerships

England’s last wicket pair hung on to Heimlich a draw from the oesophagus of defeat just four times in their first 886 Test matches. Then, beginning in Cardiff in 2009, they did so three more times in just eight Tests. Monty Panesar defied those who thought he would never become an Ashes-winning batsman, then Graham Onions carved his name into No.11 folklore by twice defying South Africa. England won and drew two series they could easily have drawn and lost, and – duly emboldened – went on to win their next six rubbers and rise to No.1 in the Test rankings. For a while. Andy Zaltzman

Why we love it: It shows balls. Serious balls.

Monty In The Slips

Monty is not renowned for his fielding abilities. Well, he is… but not in the way he would like. The thought of him as a slip fielder seems, therefore, a tad ridiculous. But as England chased the final wicket that would clinch the 2008 series in New Zealand with rabbit Chris Martin at the crease, we were treated to the sight of Monty, poised and ready for action, at fourth slip. Ryan Sidebottom wisely opted for the yorker to wrap things up. Paul Winslow

Why we love it: The ungainly crouch.

The Sidearm

Every coach’s best friend. Every batsman’s nightmare. Gone are the days when you could ask the coach for a few simple throwdowns. Thanks to this hell-born piece of strengthened plastic, batters are now exposed to slower balls, bouncers and questionably unintentional beamers. Ban them. The sidearm that is, not the coaches. Will Smith

Why we love it: Because Goochie does. And what he says goes.

Sachin’s Hundredth Hundred

Stranded on 99 international centuries after the 2011 World Cup, for over a year we waited. The scene was set at Lord’s in 2011; the chance to finally make the honours board, but it was not to be. Twice out in the 90s, it was becoming a major headache for the Little Master until, in a drab defeat to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, he finally reached the milestone. It wasn’t how we’d envisaged it, but history had been made. James Scragg

Why we love it: The look of relief on Tendulkar’s face, proving he is mortal after all.

Sachin Tendulkar scores his hundredth hundredSachin looks to the heavens after finally getting the 100 centuries monkey off his back

Swanny’s Ashes Diary

Swanny’s video diary gave us the insider’s view of the England team on tour for the first time ever. Genuinely funny, it had songs, gags, an impassive Monty Panesar and introduced the world to the Sprinkler. And, of course, it was recorded on one of the greatest Ashes tours, the mounting excitement within the team clear for all to see. James Holland

Why we love it: A priceless glimpse into the inner world of the England team – and Swanny’s brain.

Harold Larwood By Duncan Hamilton

The wiry Nottinghamshire paceman obediently obeyed Jardine in hurling down the short stuff that helped England win the 1932/33 Bodyline Ashes but, in the words of Rockley Wilson, “almost lost a dominion.” Hamilton’s award- winning book describes how Larwood was subsequently “cast off like toxic waste” by England, and that when he sailed off (in the same ship that transported him to the Bodyline series) to be welcomed in the country that once detested him, only John Arlott was there to watch him go. Ironically, his sporting foes appeared to forgive far more readily than the establishment that originally picked him. Richard H Thomas

Why we love it: Belated recognition for a dignified hero.

Mark Nicholas And The Summer Everyone Watched

All good stories need a compelling narrator. Had Morgan Freeman’s role in The Shawshank Redemption gone to Danny Dyer I very much doubt it would be held up as the classic it is today. The ’05 Ashes produced so many abiding memories: Punter being bloodied at Lord’s, England roaring back at Edgbaston, Hoggard and Gilo doing the business at Trent Bridge, the emergence of KP and his skunk, Warne dropping the Ashes at The Oval… all beautifully accompanied by the silky-smooth tones of MCJ Nicholas. Jeff Thomas

Why we love it: Dulcet tones to dramatic events.

England Playing Test Matches In Wales

A mere stone’s throw from the Millennium Stadium, Glamorgan’s SWALEC Stadium was an enlightened choice to host home Tests. While in the rugby fortress down the road Welsh fans bay for English blood, at the SWALEC traditional rivalries are cast aside; never more so than in 2009 when England clung on to secure an unlikely draw in the first Ashes Test. Messrs Collingwood, Anderson and Panesar were cheered off as though they were Shane Williams. Richard H Thomas

Why we love it: It almost makes the Severn Crossing toll good value.

The Rec’s Last Hurrah

When the second West Indies v England Test in ’09 was abandoned after just 10 balls because the bowlers’ run-up at the sparkling new Sir Vivian Richards Stadium was more akin to a sandpit, the fixture was switched to the Antigua Recreation Ground. Somehow the great old ground was ready in time, despite the dilapidated Oil Drum Stand looking on its last legs, and it just about stayed in one piece for the duration. Paul Winslow

Why we love it:  Health and safety be damned!

Stay tuned for the rest of the gear, gizmos, gaffes and spine-tingling moments that made our century what it was.

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