This was a seven-ODI series, and the first four matches had proved to be as interesting as the preceding Test series which had finished in a 2-2 draw. Going into the fifth ODI, the series stood tied at 2-2, with all the matches having been well-contested.
The game was reduced to a 30-over affair because of rain. Australia skipper Steve Waugh won the toss and chose to field first. The West Indies made 173 in their allotted overs, with handy contributions from Ridley Jacobs, Sherwin Campbell, Stuart Williams.
Australia didn’t off get to the best of starts, losing Mark Waugh and Ricky Ponting off back-to-back balls at the beginning of the sixth over. Thereafter, Australia lost wickets at regular intervals, and at 119-7 at the end of 23rd over, the game seemed to be firmly secured in the West Indies’ favor.
However, Steve Waugh kept fighting and brought Australia as close to the target as possible. At the end of 29th over, Australia needed only six runs off the final over, when some members of the crowd ran in and disrupted the proceedings. There was complete chaos, as crowd ran in and snatched the stumps off the ground.
Tony Cozier, commentating on air, said, “The crowd’s coming onto the field. They think the match is over, there is no question that it isn’t. There’s a real invasion of the ground here now.”
The crowd ran across the ground, including the pitch, and the security arrangements proved to be far from satisfactory. However, the guards were able to resume order in some time, though this shook and angered the players from both the sides. The 30th over was to continue, even as the skies kept getting darker. Waugh took strike against Keith Arthurton for the final over.
Waugh hit the first ball of the over towards the cow corner and took a risky two, but Arthurton came back brilliantly over the next four balls. Not a single run was scored, even as Waugh struggled to place the ball towards the leg-side. Four were needed off the final ball, and the West Indies captain Jimmy Adams sent keeper Ridley Jacobs back as they anticipated that Waugh would try to score a boundary.
And he did hit the ball well over the mid-wicket, but not well enough to reach the fence. Waugh and Shane Warne scrambled for two runs, and Waugh tried to make a third happen to secure a tie. Arthurton, meanwhile, received the ball at the bowler’s end and broke the stumps. However, despite measures taken by the police, the crowd had already broken in. They made away with stumps on both the ends. One could see the Australia skipper being shoved around, and someone even tried to steal his bat.
Tony Cozier was aghast at what was happening, “Madness here… absolute chaos, someone is going to get injured out there. They’re harassing the players. This is dangerous for the players out in the middle.”
Waugh stated after the game, “That was just crazy, an embarrassment for cricket, something has got to be done. You are risking your life. It only takes one guy with plenty to drink to take out a knife a la Monica Seles and it’s over for you.”
The match referee Raman Subba Row viewed the video footage, and found that Arthurton had actually taken the bails off while Warne had made his ground. He then tried to secure the stumps to effect a run-out again, but the crowd had made off with them. Though Australia had taken only two runs, keeping the circumstances in mind, the game was declared as a tie. Row said, “I think when you get chaos like that, you’ve got to make sure that common sense prevails. And, I personally think that a tie is the right answer.”