On Saturday morning gone, on what was day three of a delayed test match between two commonwealth nations, players from England and South Africa walked out of the Pavilion at the Oval Cricket Ground to deathly silence, despite over 25,000 spectators being in attendance.
The whole crowd, stood to pay their respects for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in a sombre but touchingly iconic sporting moment that had Goosebumps and pride bursting from within. Both sets of players, led by their captains, Ben Stokes of England, Dean Elgar of South Africa, walking down the steps and onto the lush green playing surface to the eery noise of nothing but the London traffic in the background.
As the players stood to line up in crisp white uniform with black armbands over their left biceps, a single bell was rung by a Queens Guard and the National Anthem of South Africa was sung by the sensational voice of Laura Wright, before a first, capacity crowd sporting rendition of God Save The King.
If football got it wrong, by cancelling the weekend’s full fixture programme so that fans, spectators and participants of the game in the UK would miss out on paying their respects across the country. Cricket got it right, a match that was delayed from its initial start on Thursday due to rain, postponed on Friday as a mark of respect for the sad passing of QEII, but re-invigorated on Saturday, with touching gestures and pure emotion, everything still heartfelt, respect of the highest order, before battle commenced, with an energy at the Oval not seen since Devon Malcolm took 9 for 57 against the same opponents of South Africa in 1994.
England ripping through their opposition front and back end with Nottinghamshire fast bowler Stuart Broad as reliable as ever, at the heart of the action.
Broad took four first innings wickets, Ollie Robinson went one better with five, as South Africa were bowled out for 118. England’s response wasn’t too pretty, all out themselves for just forty more runs scoring 158 in total, but Stuart Broad and co were in no mood to go easy on Sunday, Broad taking three second innings wickets as the touring party were again bowled out in rapid time, for 169, by the time stumps were called for bad light, England needed just 33 runs with a day to play and ten wickets in hand.
One of Broad’s wickets, that of South Africa skipper and opener Dean Elger, was his 564th wicket in test cricket, surpassing the great Glenn McGrath on the all-time list, Broad now fifth in the standings of highest all time wicket takers, behind top dog Muttiah Muralitharan who retired with a whopping 800, the legendary late Shane Wane who managed an incredible 708 scalps, team-mate Jimmy Anderson, the highest wicket taking fast bowler on the planet, with 666, and Indian spinner Anil Kumble, who has 619.
Broad, now one of two fast bowlers in the top five of leading wicket takers, cementing his own legend, on a weekend where legends past and present, were very much the thought of everybody in this country.
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @englandcricket the England team lines up to tribute the passing of QEII.