Friday, 15 May 2020

Three of the most memorable Ashes Test matches

Australia and England have played out the fiercest rivalry in the sport of cricket since The Ashes began in 1882. The battles have been even throughout the history of the duel, with the Aussies edging the series won by one as a result of their 33 triumphs to the Three Lions’ 32.

The Baggy Greens have been more successful in individual Test matches, boasting 136 wins compared to England’s 108 – the majority of which came in a dominant hold of the urn for 16 years from 1989 to 2005. There has been little between the teams in recent years, although the 2-2 draw between the sides in 2019 allowed Australia to retain The Ashes heading into the 2021/22 series down under.

There will be no doubt be more classics to add to the number of matches that have been played over the years, but there have been some truly remarkable games to have occurred over the last 15 years. We’ll now look back at three of the best Tests that have been defining in the history of the Ashes.

Headingley 2019

England were staring down the barrel after being skittled for 67 in their first innings, facing the prospect of losing the urn for the second series in a row. Joe Root’s men required 359 to save the series to pull off a miraculous escape. Although Ben Stokes and Root put forward a brilliant effort, England’s hopes looked to be dashed when they required 73 runs with just one wicket remaining.

However, Stokes produced perhaps the finest innings seen in Ashes cricket to defy the Baggy Greens, singlehandedly dragging his team to victory – albeit aided by the resilience of Jack Leach at the other end. Stokes ended with an unbeaten century to level the series, and although Australia would retain the Ashes, England produced a rear-guard effort to maintain their unbeaten record on home soil since 2001 against their bitter rivals.

It appears the Three Lions will need Stokes firing on all cylinders in their bid to regain The Ashes next time out in Australia, with the Baggy Greens being backed as the leading contenders in the cricket betting odds to win the series in the 2021/22 when they host Stokes, Root and company.

Adelaide 2006

Australia had a point to prove after their 2005 Ashes defeat, and they came out of the traps firing on all cylinders against Andrew Flintoff’s England at Brisbane. Ricky Ponting’s men won the opener by a dominant 277 runs and headed into the second Test in Adelaide with momentum. The Three Lions hit back by scoring 551/6 in their first innings courtesy of a double-century from Paul Collingwood. England had Australia under pressure at 65/3 and it could have been even better, but Ashley Giles dropped Ponting on 35.

The Aussie skipper would go on to score 142, while a Michael Clarke century and an innings of 91 from Mike Hussey allowed the home side to close within 48 runs of England’s total. Flintoff’s men collapsed under the pressure on the final day as Shane Warne tore through their line-up, bowling the tourists out for 129. The Aussies were relentless and knocked off the winnings runs with time to spare. The devastation of the defeat resulted in a complete capitulation from England on the tour, which saw Australia secure a 5-0 whitewash.

Edgbaston 2005

This Test was perhaps the most critical in the recent Ashes history. England had high hopes of ending Australia’s 16-year hold over the urn entering the 2005 series. However, the Aussies came out firing at Lord’s, romping to a comfortable victory after both bowling attacks traded barbs. Fortune turned in England’s favour before a ball was bowled in Birmingham as Glenn McGrath turned his ankle after stepping on a ball in the warm-up. The home side capitalised by putting 400 runs on the board bowling out the tourists to take a 99-run lead into their second innings. The Warne factor turned spoiler as he put England in a spin with figures of 6/46.

Flintoff guided Michael Vaughan’s side to a decent total to leave the Aussies requiring 282 for victory. Further brilliance from England’s all-rounder and the rest of the pace attack put the home side on the brink of victory. When Warne tread on his own stumps on the final it appeared to be a formality, with only one wicket needed.

Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz had other ideas and whittled down the total from 62 to within three runs of a famous victory. Steve Harmison delivered at the crucial moment for England, getting a feather of a glove from Kasprowicz to land into the gloves of Geraint Jones. Cue raucous scenes at Edgbaston with a victory that would define an incredible series. 


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