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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2005, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Jonathan Agnew column
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Nottingham

You could have picked any of England's batsmen to walk off Trent Bridge as match-winners, but Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard would have come a long way down the list of probables.

Ashley Giles
Giles and Hoggard deserved their liquid celebration
However, their small but crucial partnership of 13 steered England to victory when moments earlier, at 116 for 7, Australia suddenly realised that retaining the Ashes was a real possibility.

Another excruciatingly close finish had cricket lovers gripped with what is now all too familiar tension - and the Australians deserve great credit for that as Shane Warne, in particular, made England fight furiously for every run.

Warne, in another era, would have made an extremely effective torturer.

You can imagine him turning the rack or the thumbscrew inch by inch to cause his victim unimaginable pain and distress - and that is exactly how he bowls when the pressure is on.

He comes into his element, of course, when bowling in the fourth innings of a Test match and the pitch is assisting him.

Once again he performed manfully, claiming three wickets in five overs after England had got away to a flying start to their small run chase.

But while Brett Lee also bowled heroically at the other end, Ricky Ponting simply could not staunch the flow of runs.

Shaun Tait is bowled
Harmison ended Australia's innings in emphatic manner

How he missed Glenn McGrath, to whom he could have thrown the ball and stifled the scoring rate.

McGrath's absence was an important factor again here, and it is of paramount importance to Australia that they get him fit for the showdown at the Oval.

Michael Vaughan quite rightly singled out his bowlers for special praise.

Without Simon Jones to call on in the second innings, Vaughan had to ask for even more from Hoggard, Flintoff and Harmison and although the pitch gave them nothing, they ran in without flagging until they completed their task.

Jones is clearly a serious doubt for The Oval, which is gearing itself up for the most eagerly anticipated sporting occasion here since the 1966 World Cup final.

He will have intensive treatment on his ankle in the meantime, and England will be desperate to get their most effective 'reverse-swinger' fit on a ground that suits his style of bowling.




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