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  Monday, 20 August, 2001, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
England's glorious day
England had plenty to celebrate at Headingley
England had plenty to celebrate at Headingley
BBC Sport Online reflects on England's epic run chase to claim an unlikely victory in the fourth Ashes Test.

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It began as a day that even the most ardent England fans would have been hard-pressed to believe a win was possible.

England went into the final day of the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley with the seemingly impossible task of scoring 315 runs to win the match.

Nothing in the previous three Tests had given an indication that they were capable of chasing such an imposing total.

Any talk of a repeat of the heroics of Headingley 1981 was absent - Australia's much vaunted attack were expected to wipe the floor with England's batsmen on a deteriorating wicket.

Spirits were raised when Mike Atherton crashed the first ball of the day to the boundary but any inflated hopes were pricked two balls later when Glenn McGrath responded to remove the opener.

Brett Lee
Australia's bowlers were frustrated
So often has he epitomised the resolve shown by England in past Tests that his dismissal was greeted with resigned looks around the ground.

Those expressions turned into despair when Marcus Trescothick - Atherton's heir apparent in the role as England's dogged battler - went shortly after.

It was surely only a matter of time before England meekly surrendered.

The pitch wore a devilish grin. One moment the ball would leap alarmingly, the next it would scuttle along the ground.

But Mark Butcher, the left-hander who only got his chance in the series because of injury, and Nasser Hussain, returning after a wretched run of finger injuries dug deep to take the battle to the world champions.

Anything remotely loose was capitalised on and when Hussain dispatched Jason Gillespie over the square leg boundary England had bullied their way to a position of control.

Australia's bowling, so dominant in the previous matches, suddenly started to lose its way.

Jason Gillespie snares the wicket of Nasser Hussain
Hussain's late departure did not upset the momentum
Brett Lee went for 13 in his opening over, Shane Warne's threat was nullified and the pitch's evil spirits were suddenly exorcised.

Under pressure the Australians wavered, bowlers lost their line, their fielding erred, overthrows were conceded and England, for perhaps the first time in the series had the tourists rattled.

Without the imposing influence of Steve Waugh on the pitch, Australia suddenly lost their way.

In earlier innings Australia would go about their business and things would happen. Now, with England in the ascendancy they were suddenly bereft of ideas.

And yet no one wanted to get carried away, such is England's predilection for imploding.

One wicket would, invariably, lead to more and Australia would be right back into it.

Simon Katich, head down in the field
Australia's effort in the field fell apart
But despite a scare before Butcher notched his third Test century England went from strength to strength.

Even an over of express pace from Lee which saw every delivery top the 90 miles an hour mark failed to break the gutsy partnership.

Despite the loss of Hussain, Mark Ramprakash maintained the momentum.

Every boundary was greeted with ecstasy in the ground, standing ovations rippled around the packed West Stand and the inflatable kangaroos were subdues.

Butcher's assault continued relentlessly and when the end came it was fitting that it was from his flashing blade.

The crowd, who had played such a part in inspiring England, stood in unison and applauded his unbeaten 173.

Twenty years after Headingley 1981 had captured the imaginations Butcher had repeated the dose and rekindled belief in English cricket.

Day five

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one

Headingley '81

Test match reports




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