Ashes 2005 2nd Test at Edgbaston

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In the middle of the Edgbaston Test, we genuinely thought to ourself that cricket had got too good. We actually thought that cricket needed to be worse so that we could appreciate it properly. There was so much brilliant cricket to take in and not enough time to process things.

That was in the MIDDLE of this match. Now think of how it ended. That ending alone would be enough to elevate it to being the best match we’ve ever seen, but it was shaping up that way anyway.

That the third 2005 Ashes Test was scheduled for a couple of days afterwards did this match a monumental disservice. Back to back Tests should never happen, but they do happen. There’ll be two sets of back-to-back Tests in the 2009 Ashes, as if the series is something to be rushed through en route to something better. It’s bullshit. Here’s why.

Day one

There were so many crucial moments in this summer on which everything else seemed to hinge, but this was a huge one. England had been beaten at Lord’s, as usual and the batting had collapsed, as usual. Marcus Trescothick put that right on the opening morning with some searing seat-of-the-pants batting which frightened everyone, including England.

He only just about made it past the lunch break, but by that point he’d hit 90 in 102 balls. The rest of England’s batsmen thought: ‘Meh, seems to work,’ and set about the bowling with frequently rash, but effective gusto.

It was a rare occasion where Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff batted okay together. Pietersen made 71 off 76 balls. Flintoff made 68 off 62 balls, hitting no fewer than five sixes. Even Steve Harmison made 17 off 11.

Day two

Australia adopted a similar sort of batting approach, only with less risk and less success. All out for 308 before the second new ball, England were batting again by the evening. Flintoff finished the innings with two wickets in two balls.

Day three

This was when too much happened. Brett Lee and Shane Warne sent England spiralling to 31-4 then 75-6. No matter. Enter Flintoff.

It was counterattack time. We’re not entirely sure how much adrenaline is stored in a human body, but Flintoff’s body is larger than most and seems to have plenty of room for it. At the point when Australia had all their fielders on the fence and Flintoff was still aiming for sixes, you knew that this wasn’t the England of old.

And he wasn’t even finished. To crown what must rate as one of the finest days of cricket for a single individual, he then went to town on Australia’s top order in his opening over.

The first ball (a hat trick ball) brought no wicket, but that was as long as we had to wait. Justin Langer could only elbow the next delivery into his stumps, allowing Ricky Ponting to endure one of the most torrid overs imaginable.

Repeatedly beaten, Ponting survived two lbw shouts and then edged the final ball to Geraint Jones in an almost inevitable climax to a stupendous over.

Australia folded to 175-8 at the close of play, needing 282 and we all retired to our beds for some rest. We didn’t know how much we would need it.

Day four

Where were you? Like all the most important moments in history, everyone knows. We were at mum and dad’s, which was just about the perfect place to be, because everyone gave a shit what happened.

We were probably starting to get nervous before Shane Warne managed to tread on his own stumps, but nervousness was about to be redefined, so that this level of nerves barely registered. We move that ‘the Edgbaston’ be the new unit of measurement for nervousness.

Brett Lee batted brilliantly. He seemed to get hit about a million times, but he just carried on making runs. Mike Kasprowicz did the same. As Australia edged ever closer to their target, you realised why cricket is the greatest sport of all. No scripted drama could ever recreate something like this.

While football might give you five minutes of anxiety and a few shots at goal in that period, cricket can give you an hour of excruciating suffering with every delivery the equivalent of a ‘chance’. We paced about, we shouted, we swore – but then there was the release. And the roar.

Sport will never top that in our lifetime. Decades of English cricketing defeat and years of Australian victory had all gone into creating that one, perfect moment when Michael Kasprowicz was caught behind with Australia one shot from victory.

Still not quite finished with this match, Flintoff immediately consoled the distraught Brett Lee. This pretty much made us cry (although we were a bit fragile by this point). Flintoff later joked that he’d whispered to him: “That’s 1-1, you Aussie bastard.”


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  1. I’m welling up.

    Perfectly recreated the test, KC – in fact, I’m ditching my Ashes 2005 DVD Box set now and putting this page as my desktop wallpaper.

  2. There’s no point in having “The Edgbaston” as a unit for nervousness, because everything else will then need to be measured in microEdgbastons.

  3. For reasons I cannot go into on here, that was a weekend I’ll never forget!

    As far as the cricket goes, a bunch of us stayed well past the Travelodge Sunday checkout time, crowded into one room willing England to get that final wicket. Apparently our shrieks of frustration and, eventually, delight, caused quite some amusement amongst the staff and other guests.

  4. Brilliant post, man. That test has to go down as one of the best I’ve ever seen, along with the Australia-India encounter at Eden Gardens.

  5. That Saturday was the best day of my life. Bar none. The highlight was the Harmison slower ball to get Clarke. He hasn’t bowled it since sadly.

    The day ended at about 3am on some dancefloor somewhere doing the Bowden hooked finger dance.

    Sunday with a hangover was almost the worst day of my life. Almost.

  6. Can someone tell the BBC that still photos getting bigger or smaller is NOT video?

  7. The only thing missing from this report is the Day One events that really swung the match – Glenn McGrath’s cricket ball incident before the start of play and then Ricky Ponting’s nonsensical decision to field even though his best strike bowler had gone down in a heap.

    Unusually, we did not get to the ground early to see the warm ups at Edgbaston that year. We were still queuing to get in. We learnt of the incident by text from an Aussie friend, Kyle, and assumed for about 45 seconds that Kyle was pulling our legs. But soon it was the talk of the queue as word from the broadcasts filtered round.

    Little did we know how hugely significant that accident would turn out to be. Frankly, I cannot imagine England having done so much damage Day One if McGrath had been playing. And frankly, I cannot imagine what Ponting was thinking of by electing to field.

  8. I experienced Day 2 of this test at my wife’s cousin’s wedding. I had my phone on silent, and a work colleague primed to send me a text when anything happened. Since the Aussies were batting, this meant that my phone vibrated in my pocket whenever an Aussie wicket went down.

    I had never previously realised quite how pleasurable it can be to have a vibrating object pressed against the upper part of ones leg. It certainly brought a smile to my face, I can tell you.

  9. I was at my Dad’s for the weekend – he thought we’d have some culture so we went to the National Gallery. I had my Roberts long wave transistor so we ended up sitting on a bench on the Embankment listening to TMS all afternoon (one earpiece each).
    Sunday morning we stayed at home, watched the telly and waited for the inevitable England throwing-it-away ending…

  10. I had just flown back from a business trip to the Ashanti goldfields of Ghana. Normally I don’t travel well and end up losing most of my intake ….nuff said!!
    This trip was so short that it was the Sunday morning before I found my self on our downstairs loo getting a commentary on proceedings from my father-in-law through the open doors of the loo and utility room. So I can say in all honesty when you were all bricking it I was literally s*******g it!

  11. Us Aussies stayed up to the early hours of the morning on the edge of our seats on that fifth day – only for Billy F’n Bowden to give Kasper out when clearly (well not exactly clearly, but clear enough after 3426 replays) he didn’t have his hand on the bat and it wasn’t technically out after all.

    However twas meant to happen as they say in the classics, and it set the scene for some epic cricket to follow it as well. You could go as far as to say that the result saved the series (no way England would have come back from 2-0) and sealed the fate of several players in the Aussie side who were well past it anyway and were only in there because they held the incumbency and the side was winning absolutely everything. I brought the DVD and although most of it is very painful to watch, I just hope that this series is somewhere (anywhere) near the heights of 2005 for both sides.

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