Sport, and especially cricket, is all about numbers.
Runs, wickets, averages, strike rates. So as bleary-eyed sports fans got to work this morning, there were three certain numbers we couldn’t stop talking about.
53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. 53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. 53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. 53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. 53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. 53 off 43 required with 10 wickets in hand. #BBLFinal
— Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) February 17, 2019
Reading it back, it’s still difficult to process. How did they lose from that position? The Stars froze, plain and simple. With the champers already on ice, ready to pop, they buckled.
The schadenfreude was rampant. ‘I wanna see Eddie!’, we said in unison, as the wickets continued to tumble. When DJ Bravo, aka ‘Hottest Man Alive’ (Dwayne doesn’t really help himself, does he?), top-edged a leg side full toss to cover (again – how?) the collapse of 7/19 was complete, and with it the hopes of the Stars claiming their first BBL title.
The loss got us thinking – is that the biggest choke we’ve seen on Aussie soil? Certainly, there’s been bigger around the world, some even involving Australians. Greg Norman’s effort at the 1996 US Masters immediately springs to mind, while our win over South Africa at the 1999 World Cup is another that would make any chokey list. Going further abroad, AC Milan’s capitulation to Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final and the Falcons’ 2017 Super Bowl choke also rank highly.
But as far as chokes on Aussie soil go, where does the Stars loss rank? Here’s our (new) top five:
5: Central Coast Mariners, 2011 A-League Grand Final
After playing out a 0-0 draw in normal time, the Mariners had one hand on the toilet-lid trophy when they went up 2-0. With just four minutes to play, they were all but assured of breaking their GF hoodoo and finally claim their first title. But Brisbane had other ideas and equalised in the 120th minute, and the shift in momentum carried them over the final in the penalty shootout. Scenes at Suncorp.
4: Parramatta Eels, 1998 NRL Preliminary Final
Leading 18-2 with 10 minutes to play, the Eels brought new meaning to the term ‘bottle job’. With the Dogs running in three tries within seven minutes, scores were all of a sudden level at 18-18 on the siren. The Dogs romped it in during extra-time, winning 32-20.
3: Melbourne Stars, BBL08 Final
Into number three they go. The choker tag isn’t leaving the Green Machine any time soon, either. Having made seven finals series (of eight), they haven’t got it done when it’s mattered most.
2: Collingwood, 1970 VFL Grand Final
Into the sheds at half-time, the Pies were 44 points to the good and looked set to bury the Colliwobbles tag. After losing the 1964 and 1966 grand finals by less than a kick, this was going to be their time. But Carlton stormed home, overrunning their rivals to win by 10 points. Oh, and the game was played in a front of a record 121,696 people. A choke of epic proportions.
1: Australia v Iran, 1997 World Cup Qualifier
Sometimes it’s not just the manner of the choke, but what’s on the line. A generation of football (soccer) fans in Australia were yet to see their country in a World Cup, and the 24-year drought looked set to be broken as the Socceroos went up 2-0 against Iran in front of a packed MCG. With 15 minutes to go, they would still lead 2-0. As we know, the unthinkable happened, and Iran equalised to progress on the away goals rule.
Peter Hore’s antics aside. It was heartbreak, tears, and a Socceroos choke on the biggest and most important stage.