3rd Test – Old Trafford

3rd Test - Old Trafford 11 August 2005

England 1st Innings – 444 all out (113.2 overs)
Australia 1st Innings – 302 all out (84.5 overs)
England 2nd Innings – 280 for 6 (61.5 overs)
Australia 2nd Innings – 371 for 9 (108.0 overs)
Match Drawn

Two Test matches. 2085 runs. 80 wickets. Series levelled at 1-1. High octane cricket from the two best teams in the world. Bring back Chris Tavaré ! Bring back Geoff Boycott ! This Ashes series is in serious danger of becoming exciting.

Fat Boy Slim, a.k.a. Shane Warne, claimed his 600th Test wicket by having Trescothick caught behind by Gilchrist on 63 but England skipper, Michael Vaughan, claimed bragging rights on the first day with a superb knock of 166. And so continued the most talked about Ashes series since the infamous Harold Larwood “bodyline” series in 1932/33.   

Saturday marked the start of the English football Premiership season but all attention was on the “real” Old Trafford as these two sporting greats slugged it out in yet another mesmerising Test match.

England were unchanged for the third match running but the major surprise was the inclusion of Old Man McGrath in the Australian line up. He seemed destined to miss the match after his freak injury at Edgbaston. Just a couple of days before the start of the Test match, McGrath was hobbling around on crutches. Added to this, Brett Lee was supposed to be 50-50 following a knee injury which required hospital treatment.

Michael Vaughan celebrates during his knock of 166

Brett Lee claimed the early wicket of Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan walked to the crease as a man under pressure. He had only scored 32 runs in the series and questions were being asked about his ability. This was despite his previous batting form against the Old Enemy that had earned him the Wisden cover in 2002.

Vaughan certainly rode his luck throughout his innings but ended up with a majestic 166. Highlights of the innings were being dropped and then bowled off a no-ball by McGrath off successive balls. His score at the time was 41.

Old Man McGrath would have got away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids….

England piled on the runs and ended the day on 341-5. Vaughan top scored with 166 and was ably assisted by Trescothick (66) and Ian Bell (59*). McGrath’s inclusion in the starting XI seemed to have backfired with figures of 0-76 after the opening day.

Flintoff hooks one to the boundary

Bell went early on the second day without adding to his overnight score and this brought an out of form Geraint Jones to the middle. He’d only been averaging 10.5 in the series and had not performed well with the wicket keeping gloves. It was Jones who brought up the England 400 as he and Flintoff put on 87 for the 7th wicket. Freddie fell four short of a third successive fifty and Jones went for 42 just before lunch as Gillespie stopped selling lucky heather to the fans for long enough to have a bowl. Warne quickly finished off the tail immediately after lunch and rushed back to the pavilion to see if there were any seconds.

Australia got off to a good start before Ian Bell pulled off a stunning reflex catch at short leg to dismiss Langer with the score on 58. The final session of the day was, once again, breathtaking cricket. Simon Jones got Ponting with the first ball of the session, Giles picked up Hayden and Flintoff bowled Katich with a beauty. Ashley Giles bowled Damien Martyn with a bowl that spun from outside leg stump to hit off. Gilchrist was dropped twice before finally falling to Jones who continued his remarkable knack for picking up a wicket with the first ball of a spell and Australia finished the day 210-7, still 234 runs behind England and requiring 35 to avoid the follow on.

Rain prevented play for much of the third day. Only 14 overs were bowled in the day but it was enough for Shane Warne to register his best score in an Ashes Test and take Australia to 264-7 and avoid the follow on. Geraint Jones missed stumping Warne when he was on 55 and then dropped him of the bowling of Flintoff on 68. Could Tubbs be on his way to a maiden Test century ?

Andrew Strauss celebrates his hundred with a silly plaster on his ear

Day four started with Flintoff and Harmison struggling to contain the Australian batsmen and it was the introduction of Simon Jones which saw the downfall of Shane Warne just 10 runs short of his century. Shame. Australia were finally dismissed for 302, a deficit of 142 and Simon Jones had picked up 6-53.

Strauss was hit on the head by Lee early in his innings and looked vulnerable but he and Trescothick put on 64 before Bangers played on to a McGrath delivery. It was Old Man McGrath’s first wicket of the Test match.

Vaughan couldn’t match his first innings heroics and went for 14 but then it was the Strauss and Bell show. Strauss pulled Lee for six, swept Fat Boy to the boundary to register his fifty whilst Bell dispatched Gillespie to all corners of the ground. Dizzy went for 23 runs off his four overs and skulked back to the boundary to start writing his retirement speech.

Strauss pulled McGrath to the boundary to register his maiden Ashes century but fell shortly after to the old timer on 106. Pieterson and Flintoff came and went in quick succession and Ian Bell finally went for 65. Geraint Jones hit a rapid 27 off just 12 balls including two sixes off McGrath and England declared on 280 leaving Australia needing a world record 423 runs to win.

Some of the people locked out of the final days play at Old Trafford

21,000 packed into Old Trafford with another 10,000 turned away as Australia started the final day on 24-0. The equation was simple. Australia needed to bat out a minimum of 98 overs to secure a draw or score 399 runs in the day to win. England needed 10 wickets.

The hosts got off to a great start with Hoggard capturing Justin Langer, caught behind by Geraint Jones. 9 wickets to go !

Enter Ricky Ponting, Australia’s beleaguered captain. Series average 23.8. He had a few lives with a closing stumping appeal, edging through the slips and LBW appeals but six hours later he was still there. Hayden fell to Flintoff before lunch, Martyn got a shocking decision just after lunch. Freddie gets Katich and Gilchrist and it’s 182-5 with one and a half sessions still to play.

Monkey Man Ponting  bats like a dream on the last day

Ponting continued to frustrate England’s bowlers and reached tea on 91 not out and the score at 216-5. 42 overs left, 207 runs to win for Australia and 5 wickets to take for England.

Within half an hour of the final session of the match, Australia pass 250 and suddenly look like they might win the match. The bookmakers slash their odds from 25-1 at tea to 13-2. Ponting is looking impregnable and young Michael Clarke is batting beyond his years. Could Australia do the impossible ?

Jones finally cleans up Clarke with an inswinger and it’s 263-6. The hapless Gillespie goes for a duck. 264-7.

Out waddles Warne to join his captain, dusting pie crumbs off his sweater. An hour later he’s still there and Australia are edging ever closer to winning the match. Electric Hands Pieterson drops his Hampshire team mate and there are 15 overs to go. Ponting is playing the innings of his life and the nerves spread around Old Trafford and in millions of homes around the country. Australia need 83 runs from the final 10 overs.

Warne finally goes for 34 at 6 o’clock. The Aussies are 340-8 and surely it’s now a matter of survival. Ponting goes past 150. Lee is hit on the arm by Harmison. It’s all happening out there and the packed Old Trafford roar on the England bowlers every delivery.

After a marathon innings, Ponting finally gloves a Harmison delivery to Geraint Jones. Brett Lee and Old Man McGrath have 25 deliveries to survive which they duly do and at 6.46pm, Lee clips a Harmison full toss away and Australia have secured an unlikely draw having been outplayed throughout the whole Test.

England require 1 wicket from 1 ball

Andrew Flintoff – Ashes 2005 Performance
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