Ashes 2005 5th Test at The Oval

For many people, this was the moment when England won the 2005 Ashes, but we didn’t see it like that. We actually found the whole Test – and the last day in particular – a slightly maudlin experience.

It was the last Test, a great Ashes series was nearly over and it was September, meaning no more cricket and no more daylight. We had mixed feelings. Plus it was a draw. The series was won with wins, not draws.

But England did need a draw and they got it amid the drama that characterised the series. Matthew Hayden seemed to be batting for the draw (or himself) in Australia’s first innings, but he gave them a good start. Even so, 264-1 became 367 all out after Flintoff’s final act of the series (5-78).

Ironically, this collapse gave the Australians their best chance of a win and with England falling to 126-5 and 199-7, things looked shaky – but Kevin Pietersen sorted it out.

Being as more and more people got interested in the 2005 Ashes as it progressed, Pietersen’s innings seems to have taken on massive significance, but this was largely down to the increased level of attention and the media frenzy at this point. Its series-defining reputation is hugely unfair on the events that preceded it, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a blinding innings.

The defining moment came early. England were collapsing and put simply, Brett Lee was going to get Pietersen out. It seemed inevitable. Rather than adopt the classic English tactic of attempting to ride it out, Pietersen recognised that the status quo would lead to his dismissal, so he set out to change the situation. How should he do this? By hooking sixes, of course.

It seemed risky, but to Pietersen it made sense. It was the best way of changing what was happening and if it came off, he was free. It was very brave and very effective. He ended up with 158.

The final moment was a title-taking anti-climax. The match ended because of bad light with a weird stump-withdrawing ceremony being carried out by the umpires.

The MBEs that followed were English self-congratulation at its worst. It was only such a significant victory because the Aussies had been so superior for so long, yet they didn’t seem to need such overt acknowledgement of their years of dominance. The victories were reward in themselves.

We didn’t watch any of the open-topped bus thing or pay any attention to it on the news either, because the actual cricket was over and the Ashes is a cricket series. It was good to know that people were affected though. It was good to see the England cricket team not the butt of dated, mindless jokes any more.

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7 Appeals

  1. It would be nice to think that there was some status in between the extremes of ‘butt of mindless jokes’ and ‘MBE’ which could be afforded to the England cricket team. But there doesn’t seem to be.

  2. I was back in the operating theatre (with TMS on in the background) on the Monday that it all ended. Helen (one of the Queens of Spain) had somehow wangled a ticket to the Oval and was sending me texts through the day to say how brilliant it all was.
    When the operating list finished, I knew that if I went home I would miss the end of the match. I had to see it as it happened rather than on the highlights programme later. So I stayed at work watching the rather dodgy TV in the theatre common room. It was the same TV that we had all crowded round watching the events of 9/11 as they unfolded.
    This time there was just me defending my right to watch history being made, while the other staff wanted to watch Countdown or what ever passes for entertainment on early evening television.

  3. i would be interested to find out what people who have daytime jobs and no sky sports are planning to do during this series.

    are the channel 5 highlights going to be enough?

  4. We have TMS on long wave

  5. …and Cricinfo, which for all its American-corporate-ness remains a wonderful way to “watch” cricket.

    2.6 Flintoff to Ponting, OUT. Big wicket there as Flintoff hits Ponting full on in the bollocks, causing him to fall over onto his stumps. Australia in trouble here at 14 for eight.

  6. As an ex-pat living in Cal I have no idea why Cricinfo is here, it is no more American than chicken tikka masala with loads of popadums.

    What the heck is Flintoff doing, opening the bowling with Anderson? They have aleady leaked 14 runs in only 6 overs! Lee has just joined Hussey and I forecast about 250 for the 8th wicket stand.

  7. In a fit of the most absurd optimism (or so it seemed at the time), I had bought 6 tickets for Day 5 at the Oval on application “just in case”. They were £10 a pop and I told myself when I bought them that I would never be able to live with myself if, by some strange twist of fortune, the series went down to the last day of the last match.

    So Daisy, myself and 4 friends who will owe me one for ever were there on that last day. I had already been there on Day 2 with some other folks, btw.

    Zambesi Jeff, one of our number, was too nervous to eat. But not too nervous to drink. So he got quietly (and subsequently noisily) blotto.

    Mat, the Aussie in our party, made his excuses and left before the end. He admitted afterwards that he really can’t stand losing but blamed his Aussie ethnicity for this failing which I suppose required me to be understanding.

    Daisy had her ticket framed and has it on the wall of her bedroom, which is quite a transformation for a lass who told me she couldn’t stand cricket when I first met her all those years ago.

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