• A two-run nail-biter

    July 8, 2015

    There have been few Tests that have finished closer than the two-run win England secured over Australia at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes. In winning they levelled the series at 1-1.

    Australia were on the brink of victory when last man Michael Kasprowicz gloved Steve Harmison behind for 20. Kasprowicz and Brett Lee, who hit 43 not out, put on 59 for the last wicket, chasing a ground record target of 282.

    Shane Warne had begun the day with a defiant 42 before he trod on his wicket playing back to Andrew Flintoff.

    Man of the match Flintoff, who did the damage on the third day with an innings of 73 in England’s second innings 182 then taking three wickets, finished with 4-79. The result was the tightest ever by a runs margin in the 128-year history of the Ashes. The last time England came from behind to level an Ashes series was in 1981, with the Ian Botham-inspired victory at Headingley, and they went on to win 3-1.

    Australia were teetering on the brink as the day began but they refused to give up without a fight. Warne and Lee shared a partnership of 45 in just nine overs, both mixing orthodox shots with some lucky nicks and edges. And Kasprowicz looked anything but a No11 batsman when he flayed spinner Ashley Giles over mid-off in an over that brought three boundaries. Harmison was hit out of the attack and Giles fared little better as England stuck with defensive field placings and a standard slip cordon.

    Pakistan’s record of 79 runs made for the last two wickets to win a Test, secured against Australia in 1994, was in serious jeopardy.

    England missed a chance to clinch victory when Simon Jones put down a difficult catch at third man from a Kasprowicz upper-cut off Flintoff with Australia 15 runs short. When Flintoff over-stepped with his next delivery for a no ball and squirted four byes down the leg side, the match looked lost. Lee batted on despite being struck two painful blows by Flintoff, first on the elbow and then on the left hand.

    Harmison switched with more success to the City End but captain Michael Vaughan had little option but to persevere with him and Flintoff. Flintoff got through 10 overs on the fourth morning, bowling at speeds clocked around 90mph despite the pain in his left shoulder. And Harmison claimed the vital final wicket, keeper Geraint Jones tumbling down the leg side to spark the celebrations.

    TV replays showed that the dismissal should not have been given, Kasprowicz taking his lower hand off the bat before ball hit glove. But England and a packed Edgbaston were already celebrating a famous England victory.



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