The cricket world watched in amazement at the weekend as the West Indies and New Zealand played out one of the greatest games in Cricket World Cup history. UCFB’s Neil Hawkins was at Old Trafford to witness it…

It’s often said that sport produces drama that Hollywood can’t even dream of, and Saturday’s thrilling match between the West Indies and New Zealand at Old Trafford proved exactly that.

From the first ball at 1.30pm, when New Zealand’s Martin Guptill went for LBW following a review, to the Windies’ Carlos Braithwaite being caught on the ropes – just inches from an improbable six and victory – eight hours later, the game has gone down as one of the greatest in the competition’s history.

Old Trafford witnessed a classic on Saturday night.

After weeks of rain, the sun shone in Manchester as fans gathered at Old Trafford, with many packing into the monstrous 8,500 capacity temporary stand installed specifically for the tournament and the upcoming Ashes test match in September. 

The Windies won the toss and decided to put their New Zealand counterparts into bat, and after Sheldon Cottrell took the wickets of openers Guptill and Colin Munro in the first over, their decision looked vindicated. However, Kane Williamson had other ideas. His 148 steadied the ship and helped the Black Caps make 291 from their 50 overs, setting the Windies a difficult but chase-able 292 to win.

Huge amounts of scaffolding supports the huge temporary stand for this summer's tournament.

Now with the Windies coming into bat and opener Chris Gayle walking to the crease, the fun was about to begin. Charismatic, flamboyant, and a big hitter. Gayle, 39, is all of these and more and cricket is in a far better place with him in it after he announced a U-turn on his retirement plans. They raced to 142-2 before it all went wrong. In the blink of an eye they were 164-7 and staring down the barrel of a defeat that would leave their chances of making the semi-finals nearly impossible.

However, Braithwaite, who was feeling his way into his innings, decided to take the game to the Kiwis. When Cottrell went for 15, the Windies were 245-9 and left needing 33 off the final 18 balls. Braithwaite remained on strike though, and struck three massive sixes in the 48th over and then a four. He then made his century with a two. Suddenly the Windies needed six from seven balls for the most unlikely of victories.

As day turned to night, the action became more intense.

Time then stood still. Jimmy Neesham delivered and Brathwaite swung for the big finish. Old Trafford went silent as the ball hung in the summer air, lost amongst the glare of colossal floodlights. This was it, the perfect end to the most incredible game. NO! Out of nowhere, Trent Boult ran onto the ball and caught it just inches from the rope – incredible.

Braithwaite slumped to the floor, the Kiwis went wild, and Old Trafford stood collectively as one and applauded. Everyone knew they had just witnessed a classic. This was the night the 2019 Cricket World Cup came alive.