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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 17:25 UK

How the Ashes were won

Andrew Strauss lifts aloft the Ashes urn as he is showered in champagne by his team-mates
England celebrate winning the Ashes for the 30th time in 75 series

By Pranav Soneji

The dramatic twists of the 2009 Ashes series would make the plot of the Usual Suspects look as complex as a Chuck Norris film.

The five-Test series ebbed and flowed, swinging one way then the other as England avenged their abject 5-0 drubbing in 2006/07 with their second successive 2-1 home series win.

Statistically, Australia may wonder how they lost. Eight centuries to England's two, six batsmen averaging over 40, compared with two for England. Three bowlers taking 20 wickets or more, Stuart Broad topping England's chart with 18.

Captain Ricky Ponting suggested after Sunday's dramatic finale at The Oval that England had won the "big moments". So what were the key ones over the last seven memorable weeks?

THE GREAT ESCAPE IN CARDIFF

First Test, Cardiff - England drew with Australia

At 1800 BST on the final day, after 344 pain-staking, crease-shuffling minutes, Paul Collingwood's 245-ball, 74-run vigil ended when he meekly guided Peter Siddle to Mike Hussey at gully.

At 1802 BST, Monty Panesar - a number 11 with an average half his batting position - joined James Anderson with Australia primed to celebrate their sixth successive Ashes Test victory.

But for 69 hair-pulling, jaw-aching deliveries, the last-wicket pair fended off everything the tourists launched at them.

Every defensive prod was celebrated as if the crowd were watching a full-length Shane Williams try at the Millennium Stadium, with Ricky Ponting's patience wearing increasingly thin.

James Anderson and Monty Panesar secure the draw at Cardiff
Anderson and Panesar conducted the miracle of Cardiff

The Australia captain became apoplectic with rage over England's apparent time-consuming tactics, with acting 12th man Bilal Shafayat and physiotherapist Steve McCaig both despatched to the middle.

However, it all became too much for the umpires and Anderson, who promptly sent Shafayat back to the pavilion.

But despite the increasing tension, Panesar's bat, as broad as the River Taff, grew wider the more frustrated the tourists became, while Anderson's defence remained obstinate through 53 deliveries.

"We got away with it, we know that, and we must come back and play better," said England captain Andrew Strauss.

And didn't they just...

FIRED-UP FREDDIE'S FIVE-FOR AT LORD'S

Second Test, Lord's - England beat Australia by 115 runs

Whoever writes Andrew Flintoff's scripts should retire now, forever content with their role in etching the all-rounder's name into the annals of English cricket history at the game's spiritual's home.

After announcing he would retire from Test cricket because of a chronic knee injury after the Ashes, Freddie's awesome second-innings bowling spell ensured England's blushes were spared after setting Australia a record 522 for victory.

Although his 5-92 was only his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket, it was undoubtedly his most important, piqued when he dismissed Brad Haddin in the second over of the final morning at Lord's.

The wicketkeeper shared a 185-run sixth-wicket stand with Michael Clarke, the type of partnership which was on its way to germinating from a seed of doubt into a full-blown privet hedge of horror.

Andrew Flintoff celebrates dismissing Nathan Hauritz
Freddie's ready to be mobbed by his team-mates

But with Haddin on 80, Flintoff induced a thick outside edge to the hands of Paul Collingwood at second slip, and the game was up for Australia.

Flintoff's reaction was priceless - he just stood there, as if looking for wife Rachael deep in the recesses of the Mound Stand, before being mobbed by his jubilant team-mates.

He went one better an hour later, clean bowling Nathan Hauritz before descending on one knee, arms spread, like a stadium rock star as England ended their 75-year wait for a win at Lord's.

SIZZLING ONIONS GRILLS AUSTRALIA

Third Test, Edgbaston - England drew with Australia

After watching rain pelt down for hours on the sodden Edgbaston outfield, England's bowlers were flogged to all parts as Australia's openers made hay when the sun finally shone in Birmingham.

Without Kevin Pietersen, ruled out following surgery on his right Achilles' tendon, England looked as flat as the Edgbaston wicket.

But it's amazing what a scattering of low-lying clouds and humidity can do to a semi-shiny Dukes ball.

With Australia resuming on 126-1, Graham Onions altered the complexion of the match with the first two deliveries of day two.

Graham Onions celebrates bowling Mike Hussey
Onions early wickets put England in charge on day two at Edgbaston

Up went umpire Aleem Dar's right index finger when the Durham fast bowler trapped Shane Watson dead in front for 62, before bowling Mike Hussey - inexplicably shouldering arms to a delivery hurtling into his off stump for a golden duck.

Suddenly the ball was swinging like a Benny Goodman number, and James Anderson cleaned up the tourists with an inspired 5-80, while Onions collected 4-58.

The momentum was back in England's favour, but a 185-run second-innings stand between Michael Clarke and Marcus North for Australia snuffed out any hopes of a sneaky victory.

FRIDAY MOURNING IN LEEDS

Fourth Test, Headingley - Australia beat England by innings and 80 runs

When Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat on an overcast Friday morning in Leeds, Ricky Ponting did not seem overly perturbed.

With a four-pronged pace attack - the metronomic Stuart Clark returning at the expense of off-spinner Nathan Hauritz - Australia had an Andrew Flintoff-less England by the jugular when Strauss was trapped plumb in front by Ben Hilfenhaus with the very first delivery.

The crooked finger of umpire Billy Bowden remained motionless, like Australian mouths, but the reprieve was brief as the England captain was back in the pavilion 14 minutes later after a brilliant one-handed catch by Marcus North at third slip.

Peter Siddle celebrates after dismissing Andrew Strauss
Peter Siddle was the main benefactor as England folded at Headingley

The rot began to set in as Peter Siddle and Clark ran amok, decimating England's middle and lower order with a brilliant exhibition of good old-fashioned Headingley swing bowling.

The hosts were 72-6 at lunch, the misery ending early in the afternoon session when Graham Onions was caught at short leg for Siddle's fifth wicket as the hosts were dismissed for 102, their lowest total for 100 years in Ashes Tests at Headingley.

The humiliation was complete when Mitchell Johnson cleaned up poor old Onions less than two days later for one of England's most emphatic defeats against the tourists on home soil.

BROAD TAKES CENTRE STAGE WITH ENGLAND HOT TO TROTT

Fifth Test, The Oval - England beat Australia by 197 runs

Amid the media clamour to reinstate 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash and persuade Marcus Trescothick to come out of retirement, England's selectors opted for consistency and chose Jonathan Trott to replace the struggling Ravi Bopara.

With Australia in the ascendency at 73 without loss replying to England's 332 in the series decider, the fate of the fragile, six-inch urn turned on a destructive spell of fast bowling from Stuart Broad on a parched Oval wicket.

The 23-year-old reduced Australia to 111-7, the apogee of his 5-37 an unplayable outswinging delivery to rearrange Brad Haddin's furniture to seal his second successive five-wicket Test haul, and the third of his career.

With Australia 172 runs short of England's first-innings total, Trott became an instant hero with a debut century to take the game beyond the tourists, setting Ricky Ponting's men an impossible winning target of 546.

Stuart Broad removes Ricky Ponting at The Oval
Ponting's dismissal particularly delighted Broad at The Oval

England supporters started to sweat as Ponting and the hitherto vulnerable Mike Hussey compiled a 127-run partnership with steely determination.

But Flintoff - relatively muted on his finale - conjured one final trick from his sunhat, uprooting Ponting's off stump with a direct hit from mid-on as the Australia captain fatally hesitated scampering for an ill-judged single.

As the match - and series - drew to its now inevitable denouement, Graeme Swann ended Australia's misery when he had centurion Hussey caught by Alastair Cook off bat-pad, sparking pandemonium in SE11.

England celebrate winning the Ashes

Relive the moment England won the Ashes



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see also
Flintoff wants England domination
24 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff's Test career in pictures
28 Sep 09 |  England
Strauss targets top of rankings
24 Aug 09 |  England
Cricket Australia backs Ponting
24 Aug 09 |  Australia
Media reaction to Ashes victory
24 Aug 09 |  England
England celebration pictures
24 Aug 09 |  England
Victorious England regain Ashes
23 Aug 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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