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HOW A CRICKET MATCH CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY

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  • michael berrell
    I ve just finished watching the second part of a documentary on Margaret Thatcher which aired on the A.B.C. tonight. It covered her 11 and a half year reign as
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18 4:48 AM
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      I've just finished watching the second part of a documentary on
      Margaret Thatcher which aired on the A.B.C. tonight. It covered her
      11 and a half year reign as Prime Minister from May 1979 until
      November 1990.

      The ideas she introduced have had an enormous impact not only in
      Britain but throughout the world. Social Democratic Parties around
      the world accepted and adopted many of her policies. It is often
      forgotten now but in the northern summer of 1981, Margaret Thatcher
      was the most unpopular Prime Minister in Britain's history, Britain
      suffered from record unemployment and was plagued by race riots
      particularly in areas such as Toxteth and Brixton. In 1981 it was
      generally accepted that the Neo-Liberal Policies introduced by
      Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States had been
      a spectacular failure and that they would soon be consigned to the
      dustbin of history but instead they went on to conquer the world.
      How did this happen?


      The Australian Cricket Team was touring England at the time
      captained by Kim Hughes. By July 1981 England's prospects of
      regaining the Ashes looked as bleak as the prospects for Margaret
      Thatcher's Government. Australia had won the first test at Trent
      Bridge , after having a scare chasing a small total in the last
      innings(a portent of things to come), and drawn the second test at
      Lords, Ian Botham bagged a 'pair' and was subquently relieved of the
      England captaincy(another portent).

      Then came the Third Test at Headingley. By the fourth day
      Australia were on the verge of going two-nil up. Australia had
      forced England to Follow On 227 runs in arrears. England lost her
      seventh second innings wicket still 80 runs short of making
      Australia bat again. Then came one of the freakiest, spectacular and
      brilliant test innings ever seen in Test Cricket. Ian Botham threw
      caution to the wind and with the support of the tailenders scored
      149 priceless runs and in so doing gave England a lead of 129 runs.
      The Botham heroics were spectacular but surely they had just delayed
      the inevitable. On the night before the last day England was rocked
      by some of the worst rioting in its history even revolution seemed a
      possibility. Thatcherism had reached its lowest ebb.

      What followed the next day resurrected a nation's spirit and I
      believe in no small way helped to resurrect Thatcherism as well. As
      an 11 year old I can remember listening on the radio with increasing
      dismay as Australian wickets tumbled on a spiteful Headingley pitch.
      Australia had reached 1 for 56 and then England Captain Mike
      Brearley had Bob Willis change ends, it was a last throw of the
      dice. Willis went on to take 8 for 43 and Australia was bundled out
      for 111, England had won by 18 runs, no side had ever won a test
      match after having been forced to Follow On. Tales have been told
      how the fall of each Australian Wicket was relayed to expectant
      patrons at railway stations across England.

      From that moment on Margaret Thatcher never looked back. A couple
      of weeks later Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and
      Australia lost the Fourth Test as well when it failed to chase 150
      in the last innings at Edgbaston. But Margaret Thatcher's fortunes
      changed that last afternoon at Headingley in July, 1981 and now the
      story can be told how a cricket match rescued one of Britain's most
      unpopular Prime Ministers and changed the course of history.
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