Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Michael Slater, Andy Caddick and Alec Stewart star in exhilarating 236-run session in 2001 Ashes opener
July 5, 2001 - 427 runs were scored on day one of the first Ashes Test in 2001, with contributions from both sides. While England's last pair of Andy Caddick and Alec Stewart added 103 runs, Australia's opening pair of Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden blazed away with a rapid partnership of 98.
Australia had been unbeaten in their last five Test series. Although the team had lost the iconic Eden Gardens Test despite inflicting a follow-on against India, courtesy of career-defining performances from VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh, the Steve Waugh-led side had recently won a monumental Test series against West Indies - a series victory that came after 31 years.
Australia had not won the Ashes series for almost 14 years and wanted to cash in on their hot streak.
With Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Alex Stewart, Ashley Giles and Darren Gough in their ranks, England were ready for the contest. However, it was a huge jolt for the home team when Graham Thorpe was out of the first Test due to a calf strain. Michael Vaughan suffered a knee injury and Mark Ramprakash had issues with his hamstring.
This led to the inclusion of Mark Butcher, Ian Ward and Usman Afzaal, thus weakening the England XI. This is perhaps the reason why Steve Waugh made an interesting call of inviting England to bat first after winning the toss on the morning of the first Ashes Test in 2001 at Edgbaston.
Jason Gillespie removed opener Marcus Trescothick on his very first ball of the day but Butcher and Atherton joined hands for a 100+ partnership. Butcher was dismissed at the stroke of lunch when Steve Waugh threw the ball to Shane Warne for the last over before the break.
This led to a collapse which saw England lose 5 wickets for just 85 runs in the post-lunch session. The team which had crossed the 100-run mark for the loss of just one wicket was now reeling at 191 for 7 at tea.
The beginning of the post-tea session was no better for the home side as they lost two more wickets for the same score with Shane Warne banging his 17th 5-wicket haul. Alec Stewart was stranded at 20-odd at one end.
This is when Andy Caddick, with an average of 3.56 from 18 Test innings, walked out to bat in what would turn out to be his finest batting display. Caddick stuck into the Australian bowlers. The No. 11 smoked an unbeaten 49 runs off just 40 deliveries, including 7 fours and 1 six at a strike rate of 122.50.
On the other end, Stewart was also going at a strike rate of almost 80 but was adjudged lbw off Glenn McGrath on 65 off 82 deliveries. The team had added 103 runs for the last wicket, off just 76 deliveries - the highest 10th-wicket partnership in Test cricket since October 1997. England, who seemed to be headed towards a score of below 200, managed a respectable 294 in their first innings.
Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden, who had been watching the onslaught from the field, decided to give England a taste of their own medicine. Slater was particularly determined to take the attack to the opposition and struck 4 fours in the very first over from Darren Gough.
Slater was dominant that day for his 77 runs, which came off just 82 deliveries, before being bowled by Gough. Matthew Hayden wasn't as assertive but still scored at a strike rate of 85 .
By the time Ricky Ponting was dismissed late in the day, Australia had scored 133 runs and were only 161 runs behind the England total.
A total of 236 runs were scored in the last session at a jaw-dropping rate of 6.84 RPO. With centuries from Steve Waugh, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist, Australia went on to win the match by an innings, and eventually the Ashes 4-1.
© Cricket World 2020