English cricket fans will fondly remember the summer of 2005 because the Ashes were finally regained after a gap of nearly 20 years. However, it was a close-run thing, and might well have gone the other way but for a very close finish in the second Test match, at Edgbaston.
The action began in Lord’s, where England suffered their now customary defeat.
Australia won the toss on a green pitch that saw 17 wickets fall on the first day and batted. They scored 190, Justin Langer top-scoring with 40 and Steve Harmison taking 5-43.
In reply, England were 21/5 before recovering to 155, largely thanks to 57 from debutant Kevin Pietersen. With 5-53, Glenn McGrath was once again the scourge of the English.
Australia did much better second time round with the bat, making 384, Michael Clarke leading the way with 91, while Simon Katich scored 67 and Damien Martyn 65.
That meant England needed 420 to win. Despite an unbeaten 64 from Pietersen, they were dismissed for 180, McGrath taking 4-29 this time and Shane Warne 4-64. Australia had won by 239 runs.
The Edgbaston Test produced one of the closest finishes in history.
This time England batted first after being put in. They managed to compile 407, largely due to 90 from opener Marcus Trescothick, 71 from Pietersen and 68 from Andrew Flintoff, who produced a Player of the Match performance with bat and ball.
Despite 82 from Langer and 61 from skipper Ricky Ponting, Australia were then bowled out for 308 in turn, Flintoff the most successful English bowler with 3-52.
With the pitch decaying, England were all out for 182 in their second innings, largely thanks to an innings of 73 from Flintoff that included four sixes. Warne took 6-46, while McGrath took the other four wickets.
Set 262 to win, Flintoff’s aggressive fast bowling put Australia on the back foot/ At 220/9 they seemed on the verge of defeat, but the last-wicket pair of Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz combined in a stand that threatened to bring an unlikely victory.
Kasprowicz was finally caught behind with just three runs needed, and England had won the match. Lee was unbeaten on 43.