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4 English victories and one draw

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Ashes_England_Australia_cricket_TestAustralia may have dominated in the 90s and early 2000s, but they weren’t invincible. Here are 4 great Tests from recent Ashes history where England emerged victorious, and one where they came very close.

1. Edgbaston, 2005

After losing the Ashes in 1989, England would not regain it for over a decade. Their turnaround came in the 2nd match at Edgbaston in 2005. Australia had won the 1st Test and experts had already ruled England out of the competition.

England scored 407 and managed to bowl out the Aussies for 308, taking a crucial lead of 99 runs. But the Australians, as always, fought back. England could manage just a paltry 182 in their 2nd innings, setting a target of 281 for the visitors. Australia had two and a half days to get 282. But Flintoff and Harmison had other plans. They ran through Australian top order and Australia were crumbling at 175 for 8 at the end of day 3.

England seemed certain to level the series at 1–1: Australia still needed 107 runs to win with two wickets standing. A packed Edgbaston began to fret as Brett Lee and Shane Warne added 45 breezy runs. But then Warne got out hit wicket bringing Kasprowicz, the last man for Australia, to the middle.

The last pair started putting runs together and suddenly there was tension in England camp. Adding to that, Michael Kasprowicz top-edged to third man with Australia nine wickets down and needing 15 runs to complete an astonishing victory, and the catch was dropped!

Finally, it came down to Australia needing just 2 runs to win. But in the final twist, Kasprowicz gloved one to the keeper off Harmison and that was it: the series level at 1-1. England would go on to win the Ashes back after more than a decade.

2. MCG, 1982

Having won the 3 previous Ashes, England were looking to claim the urn a 4th consecutive time in the series down under. However, Greg Chappell’s Australia was better prepared and gave nothing away to England. In the 4th test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Australia were leading 2-0, all set to regain the Ashes.

England put on 284 in 1st innings. The hosts replied with a lead of 3 runs, following which England managed to score 294, setting a target of 292. They were cornered by Thompson and Lawson at 160 for 6 but Ian Botham played a gutsy knock of 46 runs with some assistance from the tail.

Australia looked comfortable at 171 for 3 but lanky English bowler Norman Cowans emerged the hero, bringing England back into the match with a magnificent spell. Australia lost many wickets in quick succession as they were reduced to 218 for 8 with 73 runs still required to seal the match and series.

Jeff Thomson and Alan Border was the last pair for Australia and made England fight hard for that last wicket. The duo added 70 runs and Australia’s victory looked almost certain, just a boundary away from a win. But Ian Botham once again came to England’s rescue. He managed to get Thomson out and England won by just 3 runs. The series was 2-1 with 1 match to be played. Although England couldn’t win the last match of the series, this game was still an epic encounter.

3. Headingley, 1981

It is rare that a team declares in the 1st innings and then loses the Test. It happened with Australia in the 3rd Ashes Test during the 1981 tour of England. Having secured a 1-0 lead, they declared on the back of a good score of 401/9 in the 1st innings.

The trio of Lillee, Alderman and Lawson bundled England out for 174 runs. Everything was going Australia’s way as they looked in a position to extend their lead to 2-0. They enforced follow-on on England and once again their bowlers ran through England’s batting lineup.

Ian Botham then rose to the occasion and single-handedly turned the match around. While wickets were falling at the other end, Botham counter-attacked the Australian bowlers. He scored 149 from 148 balls to help England set a target of 129 for the visitors.

It looked like a cakewalk for Australian team. However, Bob Willis bowled best spell of his career. He displayed his consummate skills of swing bowling to claim 8 Australian wickets and end with figures of 15.1-3-43-8. Australia fell short by 18 runs as England sealed the victory to level the series 1-1. This win was crucial also because it provided momentum to England. They won their next two matches and took home the Ashes.

4. Old Trafford, 2005

After a spectacular game at Edgbaston, England were all charged up. The series was level at 1-1 before the 3rd Test. England scored 444 in the 1st innings as captain Michael Vaughn made an inspiring 166. Thanks to Simon Jones’ 6 wickets, Australia could manage only 302, giving England a crucial lead of 142.

England accelerated their run rate in the 2nd innings. Andrew Strauss played a magnificent innings of 106 runs and England declared on 280/6. The target set for Australia was 423 runs with 3 and half sessions remaining: an arduous task for even the best batsmen in the world.

It turned out to be a captain’s match. In the 4th innings, Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting scored a classy 156. The score was 354 for 8 with Ponting still batting. Australia was right back into the game. Then, with 24 balls remaining in the match, Ricky Ponting was dismissed by Harmison!

McGrath joined Lee for what was going to be a battle of survival. England’s bowlers tried their best but could not claim the vital last wicket. McGrath and Lee successfully played out remaining overs as the Test ended in a draw. The series was still level at 1-1 which made the final 2 matches crucial. This series was an epitome of the best battle between bat and ball. Though Australia managed a draw, they lost the next match and eventually the Ashes to England after 16 years.

5. Nottingham, 2013

One of the recent epic Ashes Tests, Australia was touring England in 2013. The 1st match in Nottingham was dramatic with many twists and turns. England opted to bat after winning the toss but could only score 215. But that looked enough at one stage as Australia were 9 wickets down for just 117 runs. Anderson was at the peak of his form as he claimed 5 wickets.

19-year-old debutant Ashton Agar walked in to join Phillip Hughes for the last wicket. Australia trailed by 98 runs and it was almost certain that England would get a handy 1st innings lead. But the debutant stunned one and all with his batting. He built a partnership of 163 runs for the last wicket with Hughes and made a world record 98 runs- the highest by a Number 11 batsman.

Australia got a lead of 65 runs but England came back strongly to put on 375 runs on board. Thanks to Ian Bell’s century, England set a target of 311. Anderson was once again all over the Australian batsmen. A victory looked certain for England as Australia were 231/9. Last man James Pattinson took some inspiration from Agar and kept the scoreboard ticking with keeper Brad Haddin at the other end.

England did their best to get the final breakthrough with little success. Once again, Alastair Cook turned to Anderson for a breakthrough. Anderson bowled 14 overs on the trot and finally England appealed for an edge off Brad Haddin’s bat to the wicketkeeper. The appeal was turned down but England reviewed the decision and DRS gave the call in England’s favour.

Anderson completed 10 wickets in the match. Australia couldn’t make use of the advantage of the 1st innings lead. They couldn’t win a single match and eventually lost the series 3-0.

 

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