Following the conclusion of the second test in Australia, South Africans celebrated the great escape like no other when they forced a draw. Now a draw means there is no winner, which in sport makes very little sense, however, sometimes when that happens, we witness one of the great sporting sites. Two warriors fighting it out, blow by blow, only to emerge with a victorious fist pump to say both are winners or something like that. So after Dr Ali Bacher, who I was fortunate enough to meet at the SAB Boucher Conservation launch, declared this the greatest draw of all time the mental cogs started churning. And what I have come up with is a list of the greatest draws in sporting history. Sometimes as fans we are the winners as we see entertainment of the highest value in a draw. What do you think? Who makes yours?
Cricket – Australia vs. South Africa – Cricket World Cup 1999
Well South Africans will not look back at delight at this game; it is constantly included in lists of the greatest ODI games ever played (Behind 438 of course). Australia batted first and scored a measly 213 and although South Africa battled through the innings (Even losing Cronje to a ball that wasn’t out) Zulu was at the crease and was taking the Protea’s home. He hit two fours to leave SA tie with Aus. And then that moment, the moment that would leave a dent in the heater I had just kicked and more tears than when a man hears he must watch the Notebook. The game was a tie, but Aussie progressed to the Final due to finishing higher in the Super 6.
Rugby – Free State Cheetahs vs. Blue Bulls – Currie Cup Final 2006
A topsy turvy game in Bloemfontein was played at a frantic pace and was far more balanced than the one-sided final that the Bulls had dominated but then lost 12 months earlier. The Cheetahs scored 2 tries through Phillip Burger and Kabamba Floors and the Bulls scored through JP Nel twice and Marius Delport. Willem de Waal kept the Cheetahs in the game through his accuracy and the match became the first final Currie Cup history to go to extra time. 25-25 finally became 28-28 as the teams could not be separated and both names would go on the famous trophy. Like kissing your sister became a term that would have been trending had twitter been around.
Football – Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal – FA Premier League 2008
A match which will be forever associated with an exceptional display from Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin which hit Liverpool’s title challenge. His first strike in off the bar gave Arsenal a half-time lead. And after Fernando Torres’ header and Yossi Benayoun’s bundled finish put Liverpool ahead, the Russian scored a beauty with an unstoppable drive. He pounced for a third, Torres levelled again, and then Arshavin finished off a breakaway for number four. Benayoun’s injury-time leveller denied Arshavin the label of match-winner, but it was a fitting conclusion to an amazing contest.
Golf – The Internationals vs. USA – The Presidents Cup 2003
The 2003 Presidents Cup was an incredible spectacle where teams International and USA ended the scheduled matches tied at 17-17. Captains Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus picked Ernie Els and Tiger Woods, respectively to represent their teams in the playoff. Woods and Els proceeded to play three playoff holes, halving each of those three holes with pars. By the time the third playoff hole ended, Els and Woods were playing in very dim light – twilight was minutes away from turning into night time. Captains Nicklaus and Player huddled to discuss what to do: Continue playing in darkness? Return the next day to continue the playoff? There was no precedent. What the captains decided was to simply call it a tie – no winner, no loser, with the two teams sharing the cup (as co-holders of the Presidents Cup) until the 2005 matches arrived.
American Football – Rams vs. 49ers – NFL 2012
On their first possession of overtime, Rams receiver Danny Amendola’s 80-yard reception to the 49ers’ 2-yard line was negated by an illegal formation penalty. St. Louis was eventually forced to punt and the 49ers marched to the Rams’ 23-yard line. However, veteran kicker David Akers missed a 41-yard field goal that could have won the game. The Rams, after driving the ball down the field, appeared to win after rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein hit a 53-yard field goal, but it was called back on a delay-of-game penalty. Zuerlein subsequently missed the longer 58-yard attempt wide right. After the 49ers went three-and-out, the Rams could only advance to near midfield before time expired, securing a tie game.