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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - England win 2005 Ashes Test at Edgbaston - the greatest Test of all time

England's Harmison celebrates victory against Australia with team mates in the second test of The Ashes series in Birmingham.
England's Harmison celebrates victory against Australia with team mates in the second test of The Ashes series in Birmingham.
©Reuters

August 7, 2005 - When Steve Harmison outfoxed Michael Clarke, the last recognised Australian batsman, on what turned out to be the last ball of day 3, with the visitors in pursuit of 282 to win the 2nd Ashes Test, the commentator could not help but beam in excitement, "brilliant delivery from Harmison. Change of pace. Surely it's all over now."

 

Australia were reduced to 175 for 8 and needed 107 more to win with just Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz left in the bank. Surely it was over, or was it? Had it been so, cricket fans would not have been witness to perhaps the greatest test match of all time.

Warne and Lee went on to add 45 runs, both getting past 40 before Warne stepped on his stamps in one of the strangest dismissals ever. 62 were still needed to win for Australia. What followed was a strange assortment of edges, byes and some crisp boundaries as Lee and Kasprowicz held on.

It was an era of Australian dominance. Australia had been almost invincible in the first decade of this century with England having last won the Ashes in 1987.

However, under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan, the team was beginning to rise back up and had won 14 of their last 18 Test matches. When the two teams met in the 2005 Ashes, neither side was willing to accept defeat.

 

 

Australia were successful in starting on another dominant note with a 239-run victory over England at Lord's. It was now England's turn to return the favour.

When Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss added 112 in the first innings and England scored a mammoth 407, an English victory looked likely. Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles then shared 6 wickets as Australia were bowled out for 308.

However, England collapsed for just 182 in the 3rd innings, with all-rounder Flintoff being the highest scorer with an 86-ball 73.

Australia needed 282 to win in the final innings and Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden added a cautious 47. But once the doors opened, England had Australia down at 175-8. Shane Warne (42) and Brett Lee (43) then pitched their tents at the crease once the ball got a bit old.

At last, it was down to Lee and Michael Kasprowicz (20) to take Australia home and it was looking quite likely despite a 4-wicket haul from Flintoff.

As it turned out, with just 3 runs to win, Kasprowicz gloved one from Steve Harmison and Geraint Jones accepted it gleefully behind the wickets as England scripted a historic two-run Ashes victory.

Kasprowicz's hand was off the handle when the ball struck him, but then he was also plumb lbw and was not given. So, who's to say what's right and what's wrong? At the end of the day, it was just destiny, as fans were treated to arguably the greatest test match of all time.

“If we’d have lost that game, I think it could possibly have even been a whitewash," recalls Michael Vaughan. The team wouldn’t have been able to respond - we’d played so well. I was thinking ‘how do I pick this team up if we lose this game?’ I don’t think there would have been any positivity to take to Old Trafford just a few days later. We were in the series now. We had a sniff. The players were confident, particularly the pivotal members of the side. Flintoff playing the game he did, it was time to start getting a little excited about winning the Ashes.”

If you've not been living under a rock, you'd know that England did win 2-1.

 

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