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Ashes memories: Edgbaston

Brett Lee, Andrew Flintoff
The iconic picture that encapsulated a superb series as Flintoff consoles Lee

You don't have to go far back in time to find an outstanding Test at Edgbaston as probably the greatest Ashes Test of all time took place at the Birmingham ground just four years ago.

It is generally felt the atmosphere created there is the most partisan of all the English venues and it was the perfect location for the second match of the magnificent 2005 Ashes series.

Having lost the first Test at Lord's by 239 runs, England knew they needed fortune to smile upon them swiftly if they were to get back into the series against the formidable Australians, who had held the Ashes since 1989.

Few could have imagined it would begin with their tormentor in chief Glenn McGrath, who had taken nine wickets at Lord's, being helped from the ground in agony after tearing ankle ligaments when he tripped over a ball during the warm-up.

England passed 400 in the first innings and the fact they also did so in the next two Tests went a long way to their 2-1 series victory.

HIGHEST TOTALS AT EDGBASTON
633-5 dec Eng v Ind, 1979
608-7 dec Pkn, v Eng, 1971
606 WI v Eng, 1984

Marcus Trescothick shared an opening partnership of 112 with Andrew Strauss, while crowd favourites Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff shared their first Test century stand together.

Pietersen hit 10 fours and a six in his 71, while Flintoff smashed five sixes in a thrilling 68.

The tail also played a significant part, the last four contributing 75 between them and numbers 10 and 11, Steve Harmison and Simon Jones, both hitting sixes.

England dismissed Matthew Hayden first ball on day two, and despite a typically defiant 82 from Justin Langer, the redoubtable Flintoff wrapped up the innings with two wickets in two balls to earn his team a first-innings advantage of 99.

In the second innings Shane Warne produced a stunning leg-break that turned from way outside the off-stump of Strauss and fizzed past his attempt to pad it away before rattling the leg stump, but England finished day two with a lead of 124 and nine wickets intact.

Brett Lee dismissed Trescothick and Michael Vaughan in the same over early on the Saturday and added the wicket of nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard in his next over.

Michael Clarke
The dramatic wicket of Clarke at the end of day three was a vital moment

It needed another bullish innings from Flintoff, who fired four more sixes and six fours in 73 from 86 balls, to help England muster 182 and leave Australia 282 to win in two and a half days.

Although skipper Ricky Ponting succumbed to a fifth ball duck, ousted by the inimitable Flintoff, several Australia batsmen made starts as they made good progress towards their target.

However, slow left-armer Ashley Giles removed Simon Katich before adding the important scalp of Adam Gilchrist in his next over.

Then came one of the most memorable moments of the series as Harmison totally bamboozled Michael Clarke in the final over with a superb slower ball to signal the end of the day's play.

With Australia still 107 runs short, England were considered firm favourites to claim the two further wickets needed for victory.

But the drama that unfolded on the Sunday morning reached almost unbearable proportions for the packed crowd, and the millions more watching in the final year of terrestrial television coverage, as Australia inched towards 282.

Warne, resuming on 20, hit two sixes in a belligerent 42 and shared a fifty stand with an equally confident Lee, who rode his luck and was twice hit by the hostile Flintoff.

They took the score to 220 before Warne fell in unusual circumstances, treading on his wicket playing back to Flintoff, leaving England one wicket away.

But last man Michael Kasprowicz, in the side for the injured McGrath, joined Lee for another fifty partnership and three boundaries came in an over off Giles as England's bowlers grew increasingly anxious.

Umpire Billy Bowden removes the bails
Despair for Australia batsmen Michael Kasprowicz and Brett Lee after defeat

When Simon Jones dropped a difficult Kasprowicz top-edge at third man with 15 runs needed, it seemed as though the match was slipping away from England.

When a Flintoff no-ball squeezed through for four leg-byes the Australians were just three runs from victory, but Kasprowicz then fended away a short-pitched ball from Harmison and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones held the catch diving low to his left.

Replays showed that technically the catch should not have been given by umpire Billy Bowden as Kasprowicz's hand was off the bat when his glove made contact with the ball, but the jubilant crowd cared not one iota as England sealed an epic encounter by two runs.

It was the closest ever winning margin by runs in an Ashes contest.

England's second city first held a Test match back in 1902 but the most successful Test batsman at the ground is from the modern era.

The elegant David Gower enjoyed his time at Edgbaston in the late 1970s and 1980s and leads the way with 767 Test runs from 14 innings, at an average of 59.

Anyone who witnessed his majestic 215 against Australia during his golden year of 1985 will be far the better for it and he scored another double century there in 1979 against India, plus three fifties.

Members of the victorious England team celebrate their Ashes win in 2005

Relive England's 2005 Ashes glory

The leading overseas batsman is South African captain Graeme Smith, who plundered 277 in 2003 and boasts an average of 174.

'Fiery' Fred Trueman holds the record for the most wickets at Edgbaston, with 39 from his seven matches between 1957-65.

Ian Botham claimed 29 wickets, while Australian spin wizard Warne is third on the list with 25 victims from only four Tests at an average of 21.

England certainly seem to enjoy the spirited Edgbaston atmosphere, winning 22, drawing 13 and losing only eight of their 43 Test matches played there.

OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS IN 2005

George Bush began his second term as US president after being re-elected in 2004, Pope John Paull II died, Rover went into receivership, Prince Charles finally married Camilla Parker Bowles and terrorists wrought havoc with bomb attacks on three London underground stations and a bus.

On 1 October, 26 people were killed after more suicide bombings, this time in Bali.

Former soldier James Blunt was top of the charts with his charming/saccharine, opinion-dividing debut single 'You're Beautiful,' which remained at number one for five weeks.



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see also
Bell to bat at four for England
28 Jul 09 |  England
Johnson toils in Australian win
26 Jul 09 |  Australia
England without Pietersen
22 Jul 09 |  England
Edgbaston Test pitch like 'jelly'
23 Jul 09 |  England
England clinch thrilling victory
07 Aug 05 |  England


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