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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Barbados pair rise to the occasion
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at The Oval

Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne
When I was losing it, he was there for me and when he was losing it, I was there for him
Courtney Browne

When Paul Collingwood shifted the resolute Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the cheer that echoed around the ranks of England fans clad in scarves and winter coats was tinged with relief.

The last recognised batsman was out and only two more wickets were needed for England's first win in a major cricket final.

The 71 runs still needed looked beyond the capabilities of West Indies' ninth-wicket pair.

But there was just one problem - somebody forgot to read Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw the script.

Who were these two?

West Indies captain Brian Lara was later to comment that he was not sure whether Bradshaw, his left-arm opening bowler, had done any batting in the nets during the tournament.

But the man who comes out at number 10 for West Indies is no cannon-fodder for opposition bowlers.

With one first-class century to his name and a batting average of 29 in domestic limited-overs cricket, the Barbados captain is competent with bat in hand.

And it was he who played with more confidence than Browne, twice hitting Collingwood for boundaries in a single over at a crucial stage in the middle of that extraordinary partnership.

Right-handed Browne, 33, presumably would have reckoned his days of international cricket were over earlier in the summer.

Carlton Baugh had been the recognised understudy to regular wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs, but when Jacobs got injured, the selectors hauled Browne out of the wilderness.

He proved to be one of the best wicket-keepers in the tournament. And his batting at The Oval, despite his awkward stance, was one of studied calm.

He needed Bradshaw to play out of his skin to help him get West Indies to the magic mark of 218 with only Corey Collymore, an old-school number 11, still padded up in the dressing-room.

Later, Browne said of his fellow Barbadian: "I've known Ian for most of my life playing cricket and I knew he would stay with me. He is a big game man.

"When I was losing it, he was there for me and when he was losing it, I was there for him."

A moment to cherish for Browne and Bradshaw as reality sinks in
A moment to cherish for Browne and Bradshaw as reality sinks in

In recent times, international finals of this ilk had failed to produce even-sided contests.

The last two World Cup finals featured Australia in juggernaut mode and the previous Champions Trophy final in Sri Lanka was abandoned because of rain.

But on this occasion, a tournament that had been vilified at its start for featuring unequal contests had ended with one of the best international matches of all time.

Meanwhile, back at the ground, half an hour after hitting his fifth boundary to win the match, Bradshaw was fielding questions.

He looked quizzically at dumb-founded journalists who could not believe what he had done.

"I knew I was batting with the last recognised batsman but I always thought we would win from the moment I walked out there," said Bradshaw.

"When we were offered the chance to go off we had the momentum and we didn't want to come back on Sunday.

"We made a joint decision and went for it."

Incredulously, he had no realisations of the magnitude of his achievement.

And that engaging humility, at a time when professional sport is awash with hubris, is just one of many memories.

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