People forget about the one-day series that preceded the 2005 Ashes, but they were a key part of it. They were ingeniously scheduled before the Test series, so that tension mounted. In 2009, they’re afterwards, like vegetable soup after a six-course meal.
England won the Ashes because they actually dared to attack Australia for once. They got themselves in the right frame of mind during the one-off Twenty20 match that opened the summer.
Australia might not have given it their all, which was stupid of them, because England summoned the fury. Paul Collingwood hit 46 off 26 balls, but the most important part was Darren Gough’s hat trick ball.
“I was thinking about bowling another yorker for the hat-trick, but Vaughany came over to me and said: ‘No, remember the tone we’re trying to set. Bowl it short’. I said, ‘Don’t worry, that’s what’s happening’. The passion was running through my veins and that was that. I was pumped up and it was a sight that got people right behind England.”
Gough bounced Symonds, spurning the hat trick and five further wickets fell in the next three overs. England won by 100 runs.
NatWest Series 2005
The Natwest Series also featured Bangladesh, who chased down 250 to beat Australia when those teams first met in one of the more hilarious one-day matches in recent memory.
Those who think Harmison didn’t contribute as much to England’s 2005 Ashes victory would do well to look at his contribution in this series, where he frightened the life out of the Aussie batsmen.
In the opening match between the two sides, he dismissed Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting, Martyn and Hussey, finishing with 5-33. Kevin Pietersen hit 91 off 65 balls in England’s succsesful run chase.
In the final, Harmison took 3-27 off ten, but England fell to 33-5 chasing. Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones rescued the innings and a thrilling match ended in a tie.
The NatWest Challenge
The NatWest Challenge was a seemingly superfluous three match one-day series. Australia actually won this 2-1, which set the scene rather well for the Ashes proper, with England still rank underdogs.