2nd Test – Edgbaston

2nd Test - Edgbaston - 04 August 2005

England 1st Innings – 407 all out (70.2 overs)
Australia 1st Innings – 308 all out (76.0 overs)
England 2nd Innings – 182 all out (52.1 overs)
Australia 2nd Innings – 279 all out (64.3 overs)
England beat Australia by 2 runs

There are certain defining moments in everyone’s life. Events that occur that, no matter what, you can always recall where you were when they happened. JFK being assassinated. Armstrong landing on the Moon. Princess Diana’s death. Cameron winning Big Brother 4.

Sunday 7 August 2005 will be one of those days that will live on long in the memory of those who witnessed the culmination of four days Test cricket that were simply breathtaking. This wasn’t just a Test match. This was THE Test match and it started just as dramatically as it finished.

Old Man McGrath takes a tumble and is out of the 2nd Test

“Strewth, Warney. Old Man McGrath is crook” one Australian player was heard to say as the teams limbered up on the morning of the first days play. Warney put down his pie for long enough to realise that, indeed, his old sparring partner wasn’t looking too good. In fact McGrath had torn ligaments in his right ankle when he accidentally trod on a cricket ball as the team had their pre-match warm up. He was out of the Test match and Michael Kasprowicz was to take his place in the team.

With his main seam bowler out of the game and the Edgbaston pitch looking like a batsman’s dream, the obvious thing to do upon winning the toss would have been for Ponting to inform Michael Vaughan that his team were going to spend best part of the next 2 days chasing leather. But he didn’t. Sporting lot, those Aussies. And so began Flintoff’s Ashes.

Marcus Trescothick celebrates his century in the 2nd Test

Strauss and Trescothick got England off to another great start by playing positive cricket from the word go. Strauss was dropped by Warne early in his innings as the Spin King failed to juggle both ball and pie. The England openers went on to record a 112 run opening stand before Warne finally stopped eating for long enough to take a wicket. Trescothick was looking set for his maiden Test century against Australia but fell 10 runs short just after lunch.

Bell and Vaughan fell in quick succession and England appeared to have thrown away their early advantage with the score at 187-4. Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pieterson had other ideas, however, and entertained the vocal Edgbaston crowd with some scintillating and, at times, brutal batting.

Freddie Flintoff blats another one to the boundary

Freddie Flintoff hit a total of five 6′s in his innings of 62 including three off Warne. When Flintoff eventually edged Gillespie to Gilchrist, the pair had put on 103 for the fifth wicket and put England back in the driving seat. Pieterson was playing some outlandish cricket shots at the other end and had completed his third 50 in three Test match innings.

At 290-5, England should realistically have been looking to set a 500+ score. It wasn’t to be, though, as Geraint Jones fell cheaply and after Giles and Pieterson fell in quick succession, England were 348-8.

The tail wagged and England finished on 407 all out. Rain meant that the Australians missed out on a tricky 20 minute session at the end of the first day. Would England’s bowlers be able to match the efforts of the batsmen on Day Two?

Vaughan had said that he had a plan for each of the Australian batsmen and this proved to be the case when Matthew Hayden recorded a golden duck, driving straight to Strauss off Hoggard in an unorthodox short extra-cover position. Despite a close run out attempt, there were no more scares for Australia until just before lunch when Ponting gifted Michael Vaughan a catch off Ashley Giles’ bowling. Defiant knocks by Langer and Clarke kept Australia in the hunt but the English bowlers proved too good and dismissed the tourists 99 runs short of England’s score with Flintoff taking 3-52.

Shane Warne says I want a pie thiiiiiis big

He may be old, eat too much and his wife has left him but Shane Warne is still an outstanding cricketer as his delivery to dismiss Andrew Strauss late on the second day proved. Not too many cricketers can claim to have bowled successive “balls of the Century” but this one was as good as the infamous Gatting ball of ’93.

England finished the day on 25-1, a lead of 124. Two days gone, 740 runs and 21 wickets. Who said Test match cricket was boring ?

Freddie Flintoff after his terrific knock

Day three produced 332 runs and 17 wickets. The two best teams in world cricket slugging it out in front of a packed Edgbaston with millions more glued to their TV sets. Vaughan’s young lions against Ponting’s arthritic old goats. This was Test match cricket of the highest calibre.

The day started with Australia on top, reducing England to 31-4 as Brett Lee blasted out the top order in an electrifying spell of fast bowling. Warne (he’s one to look out for – he might have a future in this game) bowled a spell of 22 overs of beguiling spin and England were in all sorts of trouble. Flintoff was batting with an injured shoulder and at 75-6, Australia looked favourites to win the match and secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

With England staring down the barrel, Andrew Flintoff launched a blistering attack on the Australian bowlers, hitting six 4′s and four 6′s in a knock of 73 and was the last man out, bowled by a pensioner sponsored by Pukka Pies, after having put on 51 for the tenth wicket with Simon Jones. England were all out for 182. Lardy had finished the match with 6-46 – his 9th ten wicket haul in a Test match. The Australians needed 282 runs to win the match. No Test match side had scored more than 277 in the fourth innings at Edgbaston.

Flintoff celebrates another wicket

Langer and Hayden got off to a positive start and were looking comfortable when a certain A.Flintoff was introduced into the attack. 47-0 quickly became 48-2 as Freddie bagged Langer and Ponting in his first over. The Aussies rallied and reached 82 before Simon Jones accounted for Matthew Hayden. Hoggard got Martyn with the score on 107. Katich and Clarke put on a useful 27 before the man dubbed “The Wheelie Bin”, Ashley Giles, claimed Katich and Gilchrist in successive balls. Sir Frederick picked up the wicket of Gillespie who graciously offered to tarmac Flintoff’s drive for a monkey and the Aussies were reeling at 137-7.

Michael Clarke fell to the last ball of the day leaving the ex-convicts on 175-8. England needed 2 wickets with only Fat Boy and a couple of tail enders, with a combined Test match batting average of 30 between them, standing in the way of a series levelling win. The Aussies would never get close to scoring the 107 runs would they? Would they?

Flintoff takes a bit of tap from the Aussies

And then it was Sunday. The traditional day of rest. Only someone forgot to tell Gutsy and the rest of the boys.

By the time Warne trod on his stumps off the bowling of Flintoff, he and Brett Lee had put on 45 for the 9th wicket in just nine overs. The relief all around the country was palpable. Australia had looked like they might just pull off an escape that Steve McQueen would have been proud of. Now they needed another 61 runs with only one wicket in hand.

Brett Lee hadn’t scored more than 25 runs in a test innings since January 2003. Michael Kasprowicz since March 1998. On paper the result was in the bag. Unfortunately, Test match cricket is not played on paper. It is played on batting strips like Edgbaston.

England won the match by 2 runs. The tightest ever winning margin in the 128 year history of the Ashes.

This statement does not even come close to encapsulating the emotions felt as Lee and Kasprowicz defied the English attack and so nearly took them to, what would have been, a series winning 2-0 lead. Words cannot ever encapsulate the emotions felt. You simply had to witness it. Like JFK. Like Armstrong. Like Princess Diana. Like Cameron.

England celebrate a historic victory in the 2nd Test at Edbaston and it's all square in the Ashes series

1-1. Everything to play for at Old Trafford which was just four short days away.

England had levelled an Ashes series for the first time since 1981 – the series dubbed “Botham’s Ashes”.

The main architect behind this was Andrew Flintoff with 7 wickets and 141 runs. His nine sixes in the match beat the previous Ashes record of Ian Botham set at Old Trafford in 1981.

Was this really the beginning of “Flintoff’s Ashes” ?

Only time would tell.

Andrew Flintoff – Ashes 2005 Performance
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