4th Test – Trent Bridge

England 1st Innings – 477 all out (123.1 overs)
Australia 1st Innings – 218 all out (49.1 overs)
Australia 2ns Innings – 387 all out (124.0 overs)
England 2ns Innings – 129 for 7 (31.5 overs)
England won by 3 wickets

Take your mind back to the start of the Summer. England were putting Bangladesh to the sword and their top order batsmen were piling on the runs. Trescothick was averaging 172.5 for the summer, Vaughan 82 and Bell had scored 227 runs without being defeated. If someone had suggested to you that England would go 2-1 up in the series at Trent Bridge with one batsman playing an elegant cover drive off a 95mph Brett Lee inswinger and other clipping Shane Warne off his legs to win the game, who would your money have been on?

I bet it wouldn’t have been Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles!

Brett Lee pings one in

Old Man McGrath was injured again so Kasprowicz came back into the side and the Aussie selectors finally came to the same conclusion the rest of the World had come to. Gillespie was crap. A first Test match for young Shaun Tait, a quick bowler who had done well in the Australian domestic season but could he do the business at Test level? He wouldn’t have long to wait as Vaughan won the toss and decided to bat on a flat Trent Bridge wicket.

Ponting does a mean YMCA

The morning session went the way of England, helped by an incredible 18 no-balls by the Aussie bowlers. Tresco and Strauss looked in great form, hitting the cricket ball all over the park. Tait was tossed the ball early by his skipper but found that Test match cricket is a different level and looked out of his depth in his first spell. England moved effortlessly to 105 before the Pie Man had Strauss caught off his boot by Hayden. Michael Vaughan came to the crease on a high after his Old Trafford century and smacked his first ball to the boundary. Australia’s problems with no-balls were compounded when Brett Lee bowled Trescothick only to turn round and see the outstretched arm of umpire Bucknor.

Rain stopped the fun after lunch and play didn’t resume until just before 4pm. The wicket had received a sprinkling of rain and was offering more to the bowlers. Tait got his first Test match wicket with an inswinger to Trescothick and Bell swiftly became his second scalp. Pieterson came in and was dropped by Kasper on 14. Vaughan had similar good fortune when Hayden dropped him on 30.

Desperate times for the Aussie skipper. So desperate he decided to have a bowl himself and was as surprised as everyone when he picked up the wicket of his opposite number as Vaughan edged one to Gilchrist on 58. England closed on Day One on 229-4.

Freddie Flintoff hits his maiden Ashes century

This site isn’t called Flintoff’s Ashes for nothing, you know. Day Two belonged to Andrew Flintoff as he registered his maiden Ashes century, sharing a 177 run partnership with the under fire Geraint Jones.

Pieterson had gone for 45 early in the day and Australia were looking to rattle through the English tail and keep them to a manageable target. The key wicket would be Flintoff. Everyone in the ground knew it, especially the man himself.

The Pie Man troubled Freddie early in his innings but Flintoff and Jones batted well under pressure. Freddie went to 50 with a six over mid-wicket and was playing Warne brilliantly. Jones at the other end was showing the form with the bat that vindicated the selectors faith in him and a few lusty blows by Freddie meant that England made it to lunch on Day Two at 344-5.

Freddie registered his fifth Test century, and first against Australia, shortly after lunch off 121 balls including 14 fours and a six. His joy was short lived, though, as he became Tait’s third victim. Jones was unlucky not to post a Ton himself and fell 15 runs short with the score on 450. The last four English wickets fell for only 27 runs – 23 of them scored by the last two.

Hoggard appeals for another wicket

The Trent Bridge pitch had shown what a great batting track it was. What would the World Champions do on it? In Hoggard and Jones, England had two bowlers who could swing the ball and that was to prove to be the undoing of the Australians in their First Innings as they were forced to follow on for the first time in 191 Tests.

Hoggard was the man early on he picked up Hayden and Martyn cheaply. Simon Jones nabbed Ponting and Australia were 22-3 on a featherbed of a pitch. TV replays suggested that Martyn was unlucky to be given out, edging a delivery onto his pads and given LBW. Oh well.

Simple Simon gets the Pie Man

Langer and Clarke briefly steadied the ship before Langer gloved one to Bell off Hoggard and Clarke fell LBW to Harmison off the last ball of the day. 99-5.

Gilchrist and Katich started Day Three in positive style, taking 22 runs off one Hoggard over. Simon Jones replaced him at the Pavilion End and, once again, his first over of a spell meant wickets. Firstly he had Katich caught by Strauss and then Fatty first ball. Would you like some orange sauce for the golden duck, Mr Warne?

Three overs later and possibly the turning point of the entire Ashes series.

Andrew Strauss takes a memorable catch

Adam Gilchrist, possibly the most destructive batsman in world cricket, fell to a catch by Andrew Strauss off the bowling of Freddie Flintoff. Strauss was totally airborne and horizontal as his fingers wrapped around the ball at second slip. A wonder catch!

Brett Lee once again showed his countrymen how to bat putting on 47 off just 44 balls including three enormous sixes but Australia were all out for 281 with Simon Jones recording figures of 5-44. Australia were going to follow-on for the first time since 1988.

Jones was given the new ball after his efforts in the first innings but an ankle injury meant he only bowled 4 overs. How much would England miss his ability to swing the old ball? Langer and Hayden were starting to look like building an ominous partnership when Hayden edged Flintoff with the score on 50. Strauss couldn’t repeat his earlier catch as he dropped Langer on 37 and Australia were taking full advantage of the excellent batting track, edging ever closer to the 260 runs which meant England would have to bat again.

Ricky Ponting has a word or two to say after his dismissal

Ashley Giles finally got the breakthrough England were looking for just after tea as he had Langer caught by Bell at short leg with the score on 129. Martyn and Ponting carried on accumulating runs until Ponting was called for a quick single by his partner. Substitute fielder, Gary Pratt who was on for the injured Simon Jones, picked up the ball in the covers and threw down the stumps to run out the Aussie skipper who was incensed with England’s tactics of using rolling subs. He stormed off the pitch “voicing his objections” according to the BBC Sport website. He later apologised for “voicing his objections” but was still fined 75% of his match fee for so vocally making his objections known.

Over the last few years Australian wine has become very popular in the UK. The 2005 vintage, however, will not be recommended as the grapes are most definitely sour.

Flintoff appeals

Ricky was probably still “voicing his objections” to anyone in earshot (i.e. a 200 mile radius of Trent Bridge) when Martyn edged Flintoff to Geraint Jones six runs later. 155-2 had suddenly become 161-4. Australia still needed another hundred runs to make England bat again.

Katich and Clarke rallied and at the close of play on Day Three, Australia were 222-4 although it could have been very different had Jones completed a routine stumping off Giles to Clarke.

Despite his batting performance, Geraint Jones was having a poor series with the gloves and, once again, questions were being asked about how long it would be before he made a mistake which could cost England the Ashes.

The morning session of Day Four saw the Australian batsmen continue where they had left off. Clarke recorded his fifty and put on 100 runs with Katich before he edged Hoggard behind and, mercifully, Jones held on. Australia made it to lunch, much to the relief of Warne who hadn’t eaten in minutes, at 270-5.

Simon Katich makes his feelings known about his dismissal. Bless.

Gilchrist fell shortly after lunch with the score on 277. The Pie Man came in and made his intentions clear by hitting Flintoff for three boundaries in one over. Having finished his spell, Freddie went off for a much needed rest, massage and lay down which would have pleased Ricky Ponting no end. The Australian captain’s mood wouldn’t have improved a great deal when Katich was on the receiving end of a shocking umpiring decision which saw him given out LBW on 59 off the bowling of Harmison. He too left the field “voicing his objections”.

A dramatic half an hour of play saw Jones spill Brett Lee off the bowling of Harmison when the ball was going straight into the hands of Tresco at first slip. Warne hammered Giles back over his head for six, survived a clear cut LBW decision against the ‘King of Spain’ and Lee should have been run out cheekily taking a single as the English fielders were still appealing but Jones broke the stumps with his gloves. This highly charged period of play finally came to and end as Jones made ammends by stumping Warne who had made 45 off only 42 deliveries.

England celebrate another wicket

Brett Lee continued his great form with the bat and with Kasprowicz put on 31 for the 9th wicket, during which time Kevin Pieterson managed to drop his sixth successive catch in Test cricket. The score was on 387 when new boy Tait showed his inexperience by walking across his stumps and getting bowled by a straight one by Harmison, leaving Lee high and dry at the other end on 26. Lee has impressed with both bat and ball throughout the series and now has a batting average of 30.4 – Fat Boy is averaging 31.12, bettered only by Ponting, Clarke and Langer.

England need only 129 runs to win and take a lead in an Ashes series for the first time since 1997. On a batting track against an Australian bowling line up missing Old Man McGrath and relying on a 35 year old leg spinner who can’t bowl the googly, this should be an easy ask.

Have you not watched England play before?

Flintoff strikes another boundary

Brett Lee came out bowling possibly his quickest spell of the Ashes series but fire was met with fire as England, and Trescothick in particular, went about their business in aggressive style and were 32-0 after just five overs. The introduction of Warne saw the immediate return to the pavilion of Tresco for 27 and he was quickly followed by Vaughan (0), Strauss (23) and Bell (3). England were wobbling on 57-4. Shane Warne was just wobbling. One of Pieterson and Flintoff had to make a score here or the Ashes were lost.

Freddie Flintoff had been waiting for too long to play in an Ashes series to let Australia off the hook and played magnificently well in a partnership with Electric Hands Pieterson that saw England to 103-5. No lusty blows in this innings but selective batting strokes to ease England towards victory.

However Freddie was undone by a snorter of a delivery from Brett Lee that was over 90mph and pegged back his off stump. Australia were now into the English tail with only Geraint Jones left as a recognised batsman and the pressure must have got to the English keeper as he tried to put Warne into the stands but only succeeded in picking out Kasprowicz at long off. England were 116-7 and the tension was unbearable. Giles and Hoggard at the crease. Harmison on the toilet. Simon Jones in the sick bay.

Freddie takes a dump on the balcony at Trest Bridge

And that’s where we came in. For most of this summer, Matthew Hoggard didn’t look like he knew how to spell the word bat, let alone use one, but his drive through the covers off Brett Lee was one of the best shots of the series. Ashley Giles clipped Warne off his legs and it was all over – England had won the Fourth Test and now just needed to avoid defeat at The Oval to win the Ashes.

After 18 years of hurt, was cricket finally coming home or did this incredible Test series have another sting left in it’s tail?

Andrew Flintoff – Ashes 2005 Performance
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