25 Eylül 2013 Çarşamba

The 2010-11 Ashes: 4th Test - Day 1 (Boxing Day at the MCG, Melbourne)

Despite being the series' leading wicket-taker, Steven Finn was rested by England for the much-anticipated Boxing Day Test and replaced by Tim Bresnan. James Anderson was cleared to play after a slight side strain. Australia was unchanged, with Ricky Ponting also cleared to play despite a fractured little finger on his left hand.

Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bowl. Shane Watson was dropped twice without scoring off Anderson before Chris Tremlett claimed his wicket. Tremlett later had Ponting caught behind before Anderson got the vital wicket of Michael Hussey, who had achieved at least fifty in every innings of the series, in the last over before lunch. None of the Australian batsmen offered much resistance as they were bowled out for 98 before tea: their lowest Ashes total at the MCG.

All ten dismissals were catches behind the stumps, with Matt Prior becoming the fourth English wicket-keeper to take six catches in an innings; of the remaining catches, two were taken at slip and two at gully. Anderson and Tremlett took four wickets each while Bresnan took the remaining two. In reply, England's openers advanced to 157/0 at the end of the first day's play before both fell early the following morning. Australia reviewed a caught-behind appeal for Kevin Pietersen when on 49, which upheld Aleem Dar's not out verdict; however, Ponting continued to debate the decision with both umpires and was fined 40% of his match fee.

Pietersen was out soon after for 51 and was followed by Collingwood (8) and Bell (1). Matt Prior was then given out caught behind early in his innings; however, Dar called for the third umpire for a suspected no ball. This was confirmed and Prior continued to support Trott, eventually making 85 while Trott achieved his fifth Test century and eventually finished not out on 168 as England were bowled out for 513.

During the innings, Peter Siddle took a six-wicket haul, while bowler Ryan Harris fractured his ankle in his run-up, removing him for the rest of the series. By the time they began their second innings, Australia were in a worse situation than at Adelaide: needing to make 415 runs just to make England bat again, a man down (Ryan Harris being unable to bat after his ankle injury), and with more than half the match left to play. Australia got off to a quick start before Phillip Hughes was run out off Graeme Swann's bowling. Tim Bresnan then took three wickets – Shane Watson lbw, captain Ricky Ponting bowled and Michael Hussey caught for a duck – to leave Australia 104–4. Australia finished day 3 on 169/6, 246 runs behind. An 86-run partnership on the fourth morning between Haddin and Siddle delayed the inevitable, but after Siddle was caught in the deep off Swann, Bresnan dismissed Ben Hilfenhaus for a pair to seal the match. Australia were bowled out for 258 and England retained the Ashes, winning by an innings and 157 runs.

The losses at Adelaide and Melbourne mean that this is the first time that Australia have lost two Tests in a home series by an innings.

9 Ağustos 2011 Salı

The underarm bowling incident of 1981

The underarm bowling incident of 1981 took place on 1st February, 1981, when Australia was playing New Zealand in a One Day International cricket match, the third of five such matches in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In order to prevent New Zealand from scoring the six they needed to tie, the Australian captain, Greg Chappell instructed his bowler (and his younger brother), Trevor Chappell to deliver the last ball underarm, along the ground. This action was technically legal, but seen as being totally against the spirit of cricketing fair play.

The series was tied 1-1, with New Zealand having won the first match, and Australia the second. At the end of the third match, the batsman at the non-striker's end, Bruce Edgar, was on 102 not out, and his innings has been called "the most overlooked century of all time".

This match was already controversial: in the Australian innings, Martin Snedden took a low outfield catch off the batting of Greg Chappell when Chappell was on 52. It was disallowed by the umpires, although TV replays clearly showed it was a clean catch. Some commentators believed that Chappell should have taken Snedden's word that the catch was good. Chappell went on to score 90, before he was caught by Bruce Edgar in similar fashion. This time, Chappell walked.

In the confusion before the final ball was bowled, one of the fielders, Dennis Lillee, did not walk into place, meaning that the underarm ball was technically a no-ball, because Australia had one too many fielders outside the field restriction line.

New Zealand needed six runs to tie the match from the final ball, with eight wickets down. Greg Chappell, the Australian captain, ordered the bowler (his brother Trevor) to bowl underarm, rolling the ball along the ground to prevent the Number 10 New Zealand batsman (Brian McKechnie) hitting a six from the last ball to tie the match. Bowling underarm was within the laws of cricket, but perceived as unsportsmanlike.

As the ball was being bowled, Ian Chappell (older brother of Greg and Trevor, and a former Australian captain) who was commentating on the match, was heard to call out "No, Greg, no, you can't do that" in an instinctive reaction to the incident, and he remained critical in a later newspaper article on the incident.

Australia won the game, but were booed off the field by spectators. The New Zealand batsmen walked off in disgust, McKechnie throwing his bat to the ground in frustration. Incidentally, McKechnie was censured for bringing the game of cricket into disrepute by doing so.

After the incident, the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Robert Muldoon, described it as "the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket", going on to say that "it was an act of true cowardice and I consider it appropriate that the Australian team were wearing yellow". Even the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, called the act "contrary to the traditions of the game."

Commentating for Channel 9 at the time, former Australian captain Richie Benaud described the act as "disgraceful" and said it was "one of the worst things I have ever seen done on a cricket field." According to Benaud, Greg Chappell "got his sums wrong" and instead of using Dennis Lillee for the last over, he was forced to use his brother Trevor, a considerably less talented bowler. The fact that Trevor Chappell managed to dismiss two batsman in his final over was not enough to convince the captain to allow an overarm final delivery. In limited-overs cricket, a bowler can only bowl a certain number of overs in an innings, and in this match, Lillee had already bowled the maximum number of overs allowed.

Although both Chappell brothers have publicly stated their embarrassment, Brian McKechnie bears no ill will over the incident. Thirty years later the Chappell brothers are still reluctant to discuss it and the result of the game has never been cancelled or altered. Unfortunately for Trevor Chappell, the "Underarm '81" incident remains what he is best remembered for.

As a direct result of the incident, underarm bowling was banned in limited overs cricket by the International Cricket Council as "not within the spirit of the game."

The following year, the Australians went on tour to New Zealand. There was a boisterous crowd of 43,000 at Eden Park, Auckland for the 1st One Day International of the tour. As Greg Chappell came out to bat, a crown green bowls wood was rolled from the crowd on to the outfield mimicking what had happened at the MCG the previous year. That day Greg Chappell scored a century in a losing cause.

New Zealand cricketer Warren Lees recounted the underarm incident on New Zealand's 20/20 current affairs show, on Thursday 17 February 2005. He said that after the affair there was a long silence in the dressing room, which was broken suddenly and unexpectedly by fellow player Mark Burgess smashing a teacup.

Also on 17 February 2005, over 24 years after the original underarm delivery, Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath light-heartedly revisited the incident in the first ever Twenty20 international, played between Australia and New Zealand. In the last over of the match, a grinning McGrath dummied an underarm delivery to Kyle Mills, which prompted New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden to produce a mock red card. This drew a large reception from the crowd, which was mostly made up of New Zealand fans.

23 Ağustos 2007 Perşembe

1932-33: Bodyline

Bodyline, also known as fast leg theory, was a cricketing tactic devised by the English cricket team for their 1932–33 Ashes tour of Australia, specifically to combat the extraordinary batting skill of Australia's Don Bradman. A Bodyline bowler deliberately aimed the cricket ball at the body of the opposing batsman, in the hope of creating legside deflections that could be caught by one of several fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg.

Although several batsmen were hit during the series, as would be expected, no one was hit while a leg-theory field was set, but still it led to ill feeling between the two national teams, with the controversy eventually spilling into the diplomatic arena. Over the next two decades, several of the Laws of Cricket were changed to prevent this tactic being repeated. It should be noted, however, that short pitched balls aimed at the batsmen are not and have never been illegal and are in widespread use today as a tactic.


The Australian cricket team toured England in 1930. Australia won the five-Test series 2-1, with Don Bradman scoring an astounding 974 runs at a batting average of 139.14, an aggregate record that stands to this day.

After the series, Douglas Jardine—who was later appointed England's captain for the 1932–33 English tour of Australia—devised a plan with Nottinghamshire captain Arthur Carr and his two fast bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to combat Bradman's extraordinary skills. At a meeting in London's Piccadilly Hotel, the Oxford-educated Jardine asked Larwood and Voce if they could bowl on leg stump and make the ball come up into the body of the batsman. The bowlers agreed they could, and that it might prove effective.

Accompanying this bowling line would be a cordon of close fielders set on the leg side. The result was that the batsman had to choose to either take evasive action from balls aimed at his body and head, or attempt to fend the ball away with the bat, possibly giving catching chances to the close-set leg side field. A similar tactic, known as leg theory, has been employed previously, by slow bowlers such as Fred Root and Armstrong, but with more conventionally pitched and much slower deliveries. It was occasionally an effective tactic, but sometimes made for boring watching, like the modern tactic of leg-spin or left-arm bowlers bowling into the rough area of the pitch outside leg stump to restrict a batsman's scoring opportunities.

Larwood and Voce practised the plan over the next two seasons of English county cricket, terrorising their opponents as Nottinghamshire finished near the top of the competition each year. By the time the English team left for Australia in October 1932, Larwood and Voce, along with Bill Bowes from Yorkshire, had perfected their attack.

English tour 1932–33

The English players first tried their tactic in a first-class tour match against an Australian XI in Melbourne on 18-22 November, a game in which Jardine rested and gave the captaincy duties to his deputy Bob Wyatt. Seeing the bruising balls hit the Australian batsmen on several occasions in this game and the next angered the spectators.

The English players and management were consistent in referring to their tactic as fast leg theory because most of them considered it to be a variant of the established — and relatively harmless — leg theory tactic. The Australian press came up with the far more evocative and inflammatory term, Bodyline (see below). The reporting of the series in England described the tactic as fast leg theory, which caused serious misunderstandings, as neither the English public nor the Board of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) — the governing body of English cricket — could understand why the Australians were complaining about a commonly used tactic and came to the conclusion that the Australian cricket authorities and public were sore losers and "squealers". Of the four fast bowlers in the tour party, Gubby Allen was a voice of dissent in the English camp, refusing to bowl short on the leg side and writing several letters home to England critical of Jardine, although he did not express this in public in Australia. A number of other players, while maintaining a united front in public, also deplored Bodyline in private. The amateurs Bob Wyatt (the vice-captain), Freddie Brown and the Nawab of Pataudi opposed it, as did Walter Hammond and Les Ames among the professionals.

In the Test matches, Bradman countered Bodyline by moving toward the leg side, away from the line of the ball, and cutting it into the vacant off side field. Whilst this was dubious in terms of batting technique, it seemed the best way to cope with the barrage, and Bradman averaged 56.57 in the series (an excellent average for most, but well short of his career average of 99.94), while being struck above the waist by the ball only once. His team-mates fared worse, being unable to compile large scores.

The 1932-33 Ashes series

Whilst successful as a tactic (England regained the Ashes with a 4-1 margin), the Australian crowds abhorred Bodyline as vicious and unsporting. Matters came to a head in the third Test at Adelaide, when Larwood struck Australian captain Bill Woodfull above the heart and fractured wicket-keeper Bert Oldfield's skull (although this was from a top edge off a traditional non-Bodyline ball and Oldfield admitted it was his fault). Tension and feelings ran so high that a riot was narrowly averted as police stationed themselves between the players and enraged spectators. However, at the time England were not using the Bodyline tactics. Woodfull was struck when he was bent over his bat and wicket – and not when upright as often imagined. The crowd was incensed, and popular imagination blurred, when Jardine ordered his team to move to Bodyline positions immediately after Woodfull's injury.

In a famous quotation, Bill Woodfull said to the England tour manager Pelham Warner, when the latter came to express his sympathy for Woodfull's injury:

“I don't want to see you, Mr Warner. There are two teams out there, one is playing cricket. The other is making no attempt to do so.”

At the end of the fourth day's play the Australian Board of Control for Cricket sent the following cable to the MCC in London:

“Bodyline bowling has assumed such proportions as to menace the best interests of the game, making protection of the body by the batsman the main consideration. This is causing intensely bitter feeling between the players, as well as injury. In our opinion it is unsportsmanlike. Unless stopped at once it is likely to upset the friendly relations existing between Australia and England.”

Jardine however insisted his tactic was not designed to cause injury and that he was leading his team in a sportsmanlike and gentlemanly manner, arguing that it was up to the Australian batsmen to play their way out of trouble. He also secretly sent a telegram of sympathy to Bert Oldfield's wife and arranged for presents to be given to his young daughters, a gesture open to a variety of interpretations.

The situation escalated into a diplomatic incident between the countries as the MCC — supported by the British public and still of the opinion that their fast leg theory tactic was harmless — took serious offence at being branded "unsportsmanlike" and demanded a retraction. With World War I still fresh in people's memories and the first rumblings of World War II beginning, many people saw Bodyline as fracturing an international relationship that needed to remain strong.

Jardine, and by extension the entire English team, threatened to withdraw from the fourth and fifth Tests unless the Australian Board withdrew the accusation of unsporting behaviour. Public reaction in both England and Australia was outrage directed at the other nation. The Governor of South Australia, Alexander Hore-Ruthven, who was in England at the time, expressed his concern to British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs James Henry Thomas that this would cause a significant impact on trade between the nations.

The standoff was settled only when Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons met with members of the Australian Board and outlined to them the severe economic hardships that could be caused in Australia if the British public boycotted Australian trade. Given this understanding, the Board withdrew the allegation of unsportsmanlike behaviour two days before the fourth Test, thus saving the tour.

The English team continued to bowl Bodyline in the remaining two Tests, but slower pitches meant the Australians, although frequently bruised, sustained no further serious injuries.

In England

Bodyline continued to be bowled occasionally in the 1933 English season — most notably by Nottinghamshire, who had Carr, Voce and Larwood in their team. This gave the English crowds their first chance to see what all the fuss was about. Ken Farnes, the Cambridge University fast bowler also bowled it in the University Match, hitting a few Oxford batsmen.

Jardine himself had to face Bodyline bowling in a Test match. The West Indian cricket team toured England in 1933, and, in the second Test at Old Trafford, Jackie Grant, their captain, decided to try Bodyline. He had a couple of fast bowlers, Manny Martindale and Learie Constantine. Facing Bodyline tactics for the first time, England first suffered, falling to 134 for 4, with Wally Hammond being hit on the chin, though he recovered to continue his innings. Then Jardine himself faced Martindale and Constantine. Jardine never flinched. He played right back to the bouncers, standing on tiptoe, and, no doubt partly because he didn't care for the hook shot, played them with a dead bat. Whilst the Old Trafford pitch was not as suited to Bodyline as the hard Australian wickets, Martindale did take 5 for 73, but Constantine only took 1 for 55. Jardine himself made 127, his only Test century.

In the second West Indian innings, Clark bowled Bodyline back to the West Indians, taking 2 for 64. The match in the end was drawn; it was also the highest-profile game in which Bodyline was bowled in England.

Origin of the term

Although Jack Worrall claimed that he had invented the term "Bodyline", it is more likely that it was coined by Sydney journalist Hugh Buggy who worked for The Sun in 1932, and who happened to be a colleague of Jack Fingleton. Buggy sent a telegram to his newspaper from the Test after a day's play. As a substitute for "in the line of the body" he used the term "bodyline", to keep the cost down, and the new term quickly became established.

Changes to the Laws of Cricket

As a direct consequence of the 1932–33 tour, the MCC introduced a new rule to the Laws of Cricket in 1935. Specifically, umpires were now given the power — and the responsibility — to intervene if they considered a bowler was deliberately aiming at a batsman with intent to injure.

Some 25 years later, another rule was introduced banning the placement of more than two fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg. Although this rule was not principally intended to prevent leg theory, it diluted the potency of short-pitched leg theory, as it allowed for fewer catching positions on the leg side.

Later law changes, under the heading of "Intimidatory Short Pitched Bowling", also restricted the number of "bouncers" which may be bowled in an over. Nevertheless, the tactic of intimidating the batsman is still used to an extent that would have been shocking in 1933, although it is less dangerous now because today's players wear helmets and generally far more protective gear. The West Indies teams of the 1980s, which regularly fielded a bowling attack comprising some of the best fast bowlers in cricket history, were perhaps the most feared exponents.

Cultural impact

Following the 1932–33 series, several authors — including many of the players involved — released books expressing various points of view about Bodyline. Many argued that it was a scourge on cricket and must be stamped out, while some did not see what all the fuss was about.

The MCC asked Harold Larwood to sign an apology to them for his bowling in Australia, making his selection for England again conditional upon it. Larwood was furious at the notion, pointing out that he had been following orders from his upper-class captain, and that was where any blame should lie. Larwood never played for England again, and became vilified in his own country. In retrospect, this event is seen by many as the first step in breaking down the class distinction in English cricket. Douglas Jardine always defended his tactics and in the book he wrote about the tour, In Quest of the Ashes, described allegations that the England bowlers directed their attack with the intention of causing physical harm as stupid and patently untruthful.

Outside the sport, there were significant consequences for Anglo-Australian relations, which remained strained, until the outbreak of World War II made cooperation paramount. Business between the two countries was adversely affected as citizens of each country displayed a preference for not buying goods manufactured in the other. Australian commerce also suffered in British colonies in Asia: the North China Daily News published a pro-Bodyline editorial, denouncing Australians as sore losers. An Australian journalist reported that several business deals in Hong Kong and Shanghai were lost by Australians because of local reactions.

English immigrants in Australia found themselves shunned and persecuted by locals, and Australian visitors to England were treated similarly. Some years later a statue of Prince Albert in Sydney was vandalised, with an ear being knocked off and the word "BODYLINE" painted on it.

Both before and after World War II, numerous satirical cartoons and comedy skits were written, mostly in Australia, based on events of the Bodyline tour. Generally, they poked fun at the English.

In 1984, Australia's Network Ten produced a television miniseries titled Bodyline, dramatising the events of the 1932–33 English tour of Australia. It starred Gary Sweet as Don Bradman, Hugo Weaving as Douglas Jardine, Jim Holt as Harold Larwood, Rhys McConnochie as Pelham Warner and Frank Thring as Jardine's mentor Lord Harris. The series took some liberties with historical accuracy for the sake of drama, including a depiction of angry Australian fans burning an English flag at the Adelaide Test, an event which was never documented. Larwood, having emigrated to Australia in 1950 to escape ongoing vilification in England, received several threatening and obscene phone calls after the series aired.

Currently, Australian film director and producer Peter Clifton is co-producing The Bloody Ashes, a film which will focus on the Bodyline series. The person chosen to play Bradman will receive six months' intensive acting lessons. An Australian casting agency has been commissioned for the search, while UK casting scouts are hunting for cricketing actors to play English captain Douglas Jardine and his star fast bowler Harold Larwood. Clifton, who wrote the film with his long-time writing partner Michael Thomas, said the decision to search cricket clubs for the young Bradman role came after lengthy discussions with former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell. Shooting of The Bloody Ashes is expected to commence this year.

To this day, the Bodyline tour remains one of the most significant events in the history of cricket, and strong in the consciousness of many cricket followers. In a poll of cricket journalists, commentators, and players in 2004, the Bodyline tour was ranked the most important event in cricket history.

30 Temmuz 2007 Pazartesi

Mike Gatting: The Controversial Captain

Michael William Gatting was an English cricketer who played first-class cricket for Middlesex County Cricket Club (1975–1998; County Captain 1983–1997). He also played for the English cricket team from 1977 to 1995, captaining it in 23 Test matches between 1986 and 1988.

Gatting was one of the most prolific batsmen in English domestic cricket virtually throughout his career, but it took him several years to establish himself in the England team, as he initially had great difficulty converting fifties into centuries at Test match level. His first Test century finally arrived after 54 Test innings and he eventually accumulated ten of them. His highest Test score of 207 was scored in Madras (now Chennai); this was the second double century by an English cricketer in India in the same innings as Graeme Fowler, who scored the first double century: this was the first time that two English batsmen had made double centuries in the same Test innings.

He captained England to an Ashes series victory in Australia in 1986/87. Later that year came the "Shakoor Rana affair" when Gatting argued with a Pakistani umpire in Faisalabad. The England hierarchy supported him in Pakistan, but he was sacked as England captain the following summer over an alleged encounter with a barmaid, triggering the "summer of four captains". He subsequently led a highly controversial rebel tour to South Africa. Gatting hit the headlines during the tour for describing a protest outside the rebel team's hotel as "a few people singing and dancing".

Gatting is bowled by Shane Warne’s ‘ball of the century’

In June 1993 during England's first innings at Old Trafford Gatting received Shane Warne's first delivery in an Ashes match. Warne pitched the ball a foot outside leg stump, and spun the ball past Gatting's bat to clip the off bail. This is often referred to as the ‘Ball of the Century’. His dismissal in the second innings was also unusual in that he was bowled off the very last ball of the fourth day's play by Merv Hughes, meaning he was unable to help England to bat out the last day (Australia eventually won in the last session on the 5th day).

Another mishap for which Gatting will be remembered is being caught by Australian wicketkeeper Greg Dyer after trying to play a reverse sweep off opposing captain Allan Border's first ball during the 1987 World Cup final.

Gatting’s failed reverse sweep in the 1987 World Cup Final

His last Tests were played on tour in Australia in 1993/94. Graham Gooch and himself were the only two members of the original touring party to be fit for all matches, although they were the two oldest in the squad. In the first innings of the Adelaide test he scored his final century (117), a battling effort where he spent a lot of time in the nineties, which helped England to the only win of the series.

Gatting was a useful right arm medium pace bowler. He averaged less than thirty with the ball in both first class and List A cricket, but he did not bowl with great frequency. Perhaps his finest bowling performance was against South Africa during the final "One Day International" of the 1989/90 rebel England tour to South Africa where his 6/26 helped England to a comfortable 134 run victory.

Gatting was named as one of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year in 1984. He retired from first class cricket in 1998 and has since worked as a coach and commentator, where, as throughout his career, his supposed prodigious appetite for food, and love of Branston Pickle in particular, remain the subject lighthearted teasing. He is the current President of the Lord's Taverners for 2005/2006 and an elected member of the M.C.C. Committee.

Mike Gatting is not the only member of his family to have been a professional sportsman; his brother, Steve Gatting, was a professional footballer for Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion. Steve's son, Joe, is currently a youth player on Brighton & Hove Albion's books.

28 Temmuz 2007 Cumartesi

2005: The Miracle at Last

Starting on 21st July 2005, England and Australia played five Tests, the Ashes held by Australia as the most recent victors in 2002-03. The final result was an enthralling 2–1 series win for England, who succeeded (for the first time since 1987) in their biennial attempt to win the urn.

In March, Australia's captain Ricky Ponting said that this Ashes series would be the closest since Australia's dominance began in 1989. Since 1989, when Australia started their winning Ashes streak, England had only come within one match of the title once, in 1997: Australia were the pre-eminent side in the world, whilst England had dropped from being the top-rated in 1981 to sixth for much of the Nineties. They reached a low point in 1999 with a series loss to New Zealand leaving them bottom of the unofficial Wisden Cricketers' Almanac rankings. However, since the previous series in 2002–03, England had improved on their fifth place in the official rankings, and were second before this series. Australia were still top-ranked, but England had won 14 and drawn 3 of their 18 previous Test matches since March 2004, and had won six successive series. Nonetheless, before the First Test some Australians, including fast bowler Glenn McGrath, were suggesting that a 5–0 win in the series for Australia was a serious possibility.

The series has been hailed as the most thrilling series ever; it was certainly one of the most nail biting series in cricket in the modern era. Individual matches were very closely fought, with one match decided by a two-run margin, one match drawn with only one wicket remaining, and one match won by three wickets. The outcome of the contest was not decided until the very last day of the series.

As mentioned, England won the series 2–1, with the other two Tests drawn. Australia won the first Test comfortably, but the Second Test saw England level the series with a two run victory, the narrowest win in Ashes history. The third Test ended in a draw (with England one wicket away from a win), and England won the fourth Test in Nottingham (Trent Bridge) by three wickets, losing seven men in a chase of 129, after England enforced the follow on after gaining a lead of 259 on first innings.

The fifth and final Test started on 8th September at the Oval in London. It entered its final day with England batting in their second innings, 40 runs ahead with nine wickets in hand. Australia needed a win to force a 2–2 series draw and retain the Ashes; any other result would give the Ashes to England and end 16 years and eight series of Australian dominance. After a day of fluctuating fortunes, England established a lead of 341 after Kevin Pietersen's century, and Australia batted for one over before the teams went off for bad light, Rudi Koertzen pulled the stumps out of the ground, and the match was declared a draw to ensure the return of the Ashes to England.

First Test: 21st – 24th July, Lord's, England

Australia won by 239 runs

Day One

The first day of cricket at Lord's saw 17 of the total of 40 wickets fall, and though Australia lost ten of them, the BBC saw it as "advantage Australia". Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, and Steve Harmison shook up the opening batsmen early on, hitting Australia's batsmen with bouncers; the second ball of the match hit Justin Langer on the elbow but he went on to make 40 and top score for Australia. The pitch offered bounce and swing from the start, while Matthew Hoggard got a ball on line to swing between Matthew Hayden's bat and pad and into his off stump. Hayden was gone for 12, having, according to the BBC report, "played nervously from the word go". Australia still scored at a rate above 4.5 an over in the mini-session before drinks, which was taken when Harmison cut Ponting on the right cheek, and in his next over Harmison got his first wicket of the series Ricky Ponting edged him to Andrew Strauss at third slip for 9. Langer was next to depart, having scored at above five an over when he top-edged a pull shot to Harmison at square-leg for 40 off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff, whose first over in Ashes cricket was a wicket maiden. In the next over, Simon Jones was brought on, he got an immediate reward, with Damien Martyn caught behind for 2, and in the penultimate over before lunch Michael Clarke was lbw to Jones, leaving Australia were five down after the first session of play.

Highlights of the first day in which seventeen wickets fell

Adam Gilchrist, Simon Katich and Shane Warne all played a part in getting Australia past 100, forging innings in the 20s, but Flintoff had Gilchrist for 26 before Warne and Katich added 49 for the seventh wicket. Harmison, coming back for a second spell, was wicketless in his first two overs but after drinks he took 2.2–0–7–4 as Australia were all out for 190. He finished with five for 43, and was commended for his control of length by journalists. Glenn McGrath was the not out batsman, ending with 10 runs, and he also opened the bowling with Brett Lee. England batted for six overs until tea without losing a wicket, scoring ten runs, but McGrath, who bowled his usual accurate line and length, reaped the rewards after tea. Marcus Trescothick fell first ball after tea, edging to slip to become McGrath's 500th victim in Test cricket, and Strauss fell in similar fashion three balls later. Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell survived six overs, adding seven runs before McGrath had them bowled in the 13th and 15th over respectively. With Flintoff bowled by McGrath in the 17th, and England had lost five wickets for 21 runs, with five of their top six batsmen out in single figures. However, Kevin Pietersen and Geraint Jones batted together to make England's highest partnership of the innings, adding 58 and, according to the BBC report, "treating Jason Gillespie with some disdain". A short ball from Brett Lee was too much for Jones, though, and he fended it to wicket-keeper Gilchrist to be out for 30. Ashley Giles hit two quick boundaries to bat out the over, but the last ball of Lee's next over was glanced to the keeper, and Giles was out for 11, and England were 92 for 7 overnight - needing 98 for the last three wickets to get level with Australia.

Day Two

England cut the deficit on the second morning, but were still bowled out before they could build a second-innings lead. Hoggard departed for a 16-ball duck, cutting a delivery from Shane Warne to Hayden in the slips. Pietersen now started to attack, taking twenty-one runs off seven deliveries before Damien Martyn caught him out, a diving catch just inside the boundary, and England were nine down for 122, still trailing by 68. The English tenth wicket pairing of Simon Jones and Harmison added 33 after that, a stand which was fifth highest of the game thus far and which reduced Australia's lead to 35 runs. In the field, England started by having Langer run out for 6 in the fifth over, but Hayden and Ricky Ponting rebuilt to bat until lunch unbeaten.

Though Hayden was bowled by Flintoff for 34 three overs after lunch, the batsmen from three to six all passed forty; it was to be the only time in the series that Australia accomplished this feat. Clarke needed an extra life to do it, but made England pay after Pietersen dropped him on 21, and thus the partnership was allowed to last for 34.3 overs, with 155 runs being scored. Flintoff was smashed to all corners, with 84 runs being scored off him in his nineteen second-day overs, but in the last ten overs England came back to take wickets. Started by an inside-edge from Clarke off Hoggard, which left Australia's 24-year-old batsman bowled for 91, and Australia lost a further three wickets for 24 runs before the end of the day. The Australian lead was still 314, twice England's first innings total and then some, and Katich was still batting, not out on 10.

Day Three

Four overs into the morning, specialist spin bowler Ashley Giles was involved in a dismissal for the first and only time in the match, having Lee run out for 8. However, Jason Gillespie batted for an hour and 15 minutes, and took part in a 52-run stand with the recognized batsman, Katich before Simon Jones got his reward with an away-swinger that crashed into Gillespie's off-stump - after having three catches dropped. The last wicket partnership rubbed it in with 43 more runs before Katich was caught by Simon Jones off Harmison, but England were set what would be a world record 420 to win.

They started positively, riding their luck and good favour with the umpires; Aleem Dar turned down four leg before wicket (LBW) appeals off Shane Warne, though it was claimed that one of them should have been given. Strauss and Trescothick could thus add 80 for the first wicket before Strauss edged a short-ball from Lee back into the bowler's waiting hands. Vaughan got off the mark with a four with his second ball, however, before facing 24 dot balls in the next three-quarters of an hour. Meanwhile, wickets fell at the other end, as Trescothick departed for 44, edging a straight ball from Warne to first slip after having taken him for ten in the previous over, and Bell was out LBW to a ball that didn't turn. Three overs later, Vaughan was bowled cleanly by Lee and Flintoff gave a catch to Gilchrist, England were five down for 115, and though Pietersen once again put on more than 40 runs with Geraint Jones, England still needed 301 for the last five wickets, which would mean five partnerships higher than England had managed all match.

Australia complete a comprehensive victory on the fourth day of the first test

Day Four

Rain frustrated both Australia and neutral fans who wanted to see cricket played on the morning of the fourth day, but at 15:45 BST the rain relented and the covers were taken off. Then, it took ten overs for Australia to wrap up England's innings, McGrath taking four of the five wickets required and Warne the last; Giles, Hoggard, Harmison and Simon Jones were all dismissed for ducks, and England could only cut 24 runs off Australia's eventual win margin of 239. 22 of those fourth-day runs came from Pietersen who was left stranded on an unbeaten 64 to have a Test batting average of 121 after his first match.

Second Test: 4th – 7th August, Edgbaston, England

England won by 2 runs

Highlights of the 2nd Test

Day One

The psychological battles before the match included many Australian statements to the press about how the pitch "played into [their] hands", that England had been "spending too much time talking", and that their top order had been "taking bad options". England kept quieter, until just before the game stories appeared about how the Edgbaston game would be decided at the toss: whichever side won it would choose to bowl first and would win, as had happened in 12 of the 13 Tests at Edgbaston since 1991. England came out on top in the mind game after Ricky Ponting won the toss and put England in to bat; Jonathan Agnew of the BBC claimed "it was clear that his decision had backfired" once England started batting.

England took advantage of being inserted and came back strongly, becoming the first team to hit 400 runs in a first day of Test cricket against Australia since 1938. The English scored at a pace above four an over in their opening partnership, helped by the freak injury that Glenn McGrath sustained before the match; during a warm-up (playing rugby), the pace-man accidentally stood on a cricket ball, tearing ankle ligaments. Australia had to field Michael Kasprowicz as replacement, and Australia definitely missed him after the first day's play.

The English innings began with Marcus Trescothick hitting nine boundaries off Brett Lee, while Andrew Strauss preferred Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz. Their 112-run partnership was the highest by England in the series thus far; the Australians had only surpassed that once, through Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke's 155 at Lord's. To add to Australia's woes, Trescothick was caught off a no-ball on 32, and eventually went on to make 90, being the second man out shortly after lunch, with the score 164 for 2 after 32.3 overs.

In the next five overs, England lost both Ian Bell, who notched up his third successive single-figure score, and Michael Vaughan, who pulled a short Gillespie delivery to the hands of Lee, but that did little to slow the scoring rate. 132 runs had been taken in the morning session; the afternoon yielded 157. Kevin Pietersen, in his second Test match, hit ten fours and one six, and made a 103-run partnership in 105 balls with Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff's 68 was scored off 62 balls, and Lee's 18 balls were taken for 26 runs, including two sixes.

Lee bowled 17 overs, and conceded 111 runs, but got the one wicket of Pietersen, who pulled to Simon Katich for 71 off 76 balls, and with the score on 342 for 7 with 24 scheduled overs remaining in the day. Then, Steve Harmison smacked two fours and a six in a 15-minute 17, and Simon Jones stuck around with Matthew Hoggard for a last-wicket partnership of 32, Jones making 19 not out. Shane Warne finally got the better of Hoggard, to end with four for 116, but by that time England had gone past 400 and ended up with a total of 407 in just under 80 overs. Just as Australia's opening batsman walked out and prepared for their innings, the rain began to fall on Edgbaston, and play had to be stopped.

Day Two

The quick scoring and the first Test result led commentators to believe that England's total might have been 550 and more with a bit of top-order application, suggesting that there were more runs in the pitch. However, England's bowlers started well when Steve Harmison bowled a maiden over first up to Justin Langer, and Matthew Hayden holed out to Harmison's new-ball partner Matthew Hoggard for a golden duck - the first of Hayden's Test career. Then, Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer hit runs just as quickly as England had done, before the umpire's finger went up twice more before lunch; Ricky Ponting swept a shot off Ashley Giles to the opposing captain Vaughan for 61, and Damien Martyn was run out taking a single for 20. Langer and Michael Clarke continued after lunch in the same vein, hitting 76 runs in an hour and a half, but a couple of wickets within five overs took Australia to 208 for 5, needing 199 for the last five wickets for parity. The partnership between Langer and Gilchrist saw them to tea with no further loss, as Langer continued his four-hour unbeaten knock and went into the tea break on 72.

The pair looked to close England's lead and batted unbeaten after tea for eight overs, but again the England bowlers intervened - this time in the shape of Simon Jones, who got plenty of reverse swing both ways and used that to trap Langer with a yorker - gone for 82, which was to be Australia's highest score in the innings. Australia's last four, which now included Michael Kasprowicz who had a batting average 10 runs higher than McGrath, were nevertheless all dismissed for single-figure scores, Flintoff taking the two last men LBW with the two last balls, although there was some argument about whether the first dismissal, that of Gillespie, was actually out or not. Meanwhile, Ashley Giles' return of three for 78, including Ponting, Clarke and Katich, was to be his best bowling figures all series.

However, England got their 99-run lead and continued to build their lead before stumps were drawn. After Trescothick and Strauss had hit five boundaries in six overs and taken the second innings total to 25 for 0, Ponting brought on Warne in the seventh over, and Warne broke through with his second ball of the innings; his leg break came into the left-hander's stumps and broke them completely, and Strauss was bowled for 6. Nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard survived four balls to end the day - England still leading by 124, with nine wickets in hand.

Day Three

The third day saw a total of seventeen wickets fall, with Shane Warne and Andrew Flintoff being the leading performers for their sides. First up, Brett Lee grabbed three wickets in twelve minutes - Trescothick slashed a wide delivery and got an edge to the keeper, captain Vaughan got his third single-figure score in the series as he failed to cover his stumps to a straight one, and nightwatchman Hoggard edged to Hayden in the slips for 1.

England had lost four wickets for six runs, and were 31 for 4 with Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen at the crease. Pietersen survived what looked like an edge on the first ball he faced, and went on to make 20 before he was given out in a similar situation from Shane Warne. His 41-run partnership with Bell took England's lead past 150, and with Bell having batted past the hour mark, he needed 29 more for his half-century when he gave a tiny edge to Gilchrist.

England's last recognized batting pairing, between Flintoff and wicket-keeper Geraint Jones, saw England to lunch, but Flintoff had suffered an injury to his left shoulder and looked in obvious pain, and Jones departed shortly after lunch. Giles lasted longer, batting through 45 minutes before Hayden caught him, and Harmison faced one delivery to leave England at 131 for 9.

Flintoff’s vital innings of 73

Jones and Flintoff carried on, however. Jones managed 12 runs in his 42-minute stay at the crease while Flintoff took Lee for 33 off the 28 balls he faced from the Australian paceman. Flintoff also took runs off Kasprowicz, with his third over yielding 20 runs for England, including a couple of no balls. At one point during Flintoff's innings, Ponting had nine men on the boundary, with only the bowler and the wicket keeper inside the circle. However, Flintoff hit a six over them, too, and another of his sixes landed on top of the stands. Flintoff ended with 73, as the only man to pass 25 for England, before Warne bowled him. Warne finished with figures of six for 46 from 23.1 overs, having bowled unchanged from the seventh over till the end - but, as luck and Australia's batsmen would have it, his failure to get Flintoff out earlier would be crucial.

Flintoff’s ‘over of the series’

Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer started positively, taking runs off the occasional bad balls that were served up by Harmison, Hoggard and Giles, and by the twelfth over they had racked up 47 for no loss, and were well on the way to chasing the target of 282. Then, Flintoff came and bowled the over of the series. He failed to make the hat trick he was on from the last innings, but with his second ball he bowled Langer with a leg cutter. His third delivery was narrowly turned down for lbw, the fourth found Ponting's edge but failed to carry to slip, an lbw appeal on the fifth was also turned down, but his sixth which Ponting left outside the off stump was a no ball, so there was a seventh and final delivery, another leg cutter and Ponting was out caught behind. Including the previous innings, Flintoff had taken four wickets in nine balls. But more importantly, Australia had been reduced from 47-0 to 48-2.

Hayden kept going, and his dismissal came in an over where Australia had taken eight runs from the first four balls; however, Simon Jones got the last laugh over Hayden - only to later be reprimanded and fined by the ICC for his celebrations. England kept on the pressure, getting three more wickets before the scheduled close of play; Giles getting two, dismissing Katich and Gilchrist, and an inswinging ball from Flintoff took care of Gillespie, who was trapped lbw.

An extra half-hour of play was allowed, as a result was nearing, but Warne and Clarke defied the English. Warne "took the attacking approach", and took on Giles for 12 in one over. He ended on 20 not out overnight, as Warne and Clarke batted together for 40 minutes before Steve Harmison, bowling his third spell of the day, brought the third day's proceedings to an end with a slow delivery that was not read correctly by Clarke, who missed the ball completely to be bowled. England now needed two wickets on the fourth day, while Australia needed 107 runs for the victory.

Day Four

England were said to be "on the brink of...victory", but Australia came back thanks to two partnerships worth more than 40 to take themselves within three runs of a 2–0 series lead. First, Warne and Lee added 45 for the ninth wicket, before Warne trod on his own stumps after a full Flintoff ball and was out hit wicket. Kasprowicz came in and supported Lee well, fending off aggressive bowling from Flintoff and Harmison, and Simon Jones dropped Kasprowicz with 15 left to get. With three runs needed to win, Harmison had Kasprowicz caught behind, with replays showing that the ball hit the batsman's hand when it was off the bat, which led the BBC reporter to suggest the "dismissal should not have been given". England were thus victors - if in almost the most narrow way possible - and the series tied with three matches left.

Rather than engaging in the victory celebrations, the immediate reaction of Flintoff to the winning dismissal was to console the despondent batsmen, Brett Lee, – a gesture which was widely commented upon as indicative of the good sportsmanship and mutual respect between the teams which characterised the series.

England's two run victory was the narrowest result in Ashes cricket history thus far (there had been two Ashes Tests won by a margin of only three runs). It is also the second narrowest run victory in all Test cricket history.

Third Test: 11th – 15th August, Old Trafford, Manchester, England

Match drawn

Day One

With the series square after England's close win in the second match at Edgbaston in Birmingham, neither side could secure the series win after the third Test at Old Trafford in Manchester, so there was still all to play for. The match began with England winning the toss, and choosing to bat first, thus giving Shane Warne a chance to become the first man to take 600 Test wickets in England's first innings, and he did so by getting Marcus Trescothick out caught behind by Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist when he mistimed a sweep shot, earning Warne a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd.

After naming an unchanged line-up, England were immediately faced by the pairing of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. There were doubts about whether these could play before the match started, due to injuries sustained earlier, but they both passed fitness tests. Though Strauss succumbed in the tenth over, England lost no further wickets before lunch, and only one more before tea. There were many missed opportunities for Australia, who dropped Trescothick, Vaughan (twice) and Bell on the first day, which helped Trescothick and Vaughan to get a partnership of 137 before Trescothick was dismissed after lunch. Vaughan powered on, making his hundred after 206 minutes to become the first man in the series to get a century.

Brett Lee bowls Andrew Strauss in the first innings

Having made 166 runs, an innings described as "majestic", Vaughan eventually hit Katich straight to McGrath at the boundary, but had still made what was to be the highest individual score in the series. Together with Vaughan, Australia were also faced with a more defiant Bell, who had not passed 25 in his four first innings in the series, but made 59 before the day ended. Picking up where Vaughan left off, Bell, Kevin Pietersen and nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard closed out the day for England with the scoreboard reading 341 for 5, with Lee adding two wickets to the tally before the end of the day.

Day Two

Bell did not add to his overnight score, being given out caught behind in controversial circumstances, as replays indicated any contact with the ball involved neither bat nor glove. Following a brief rain interval England then lost two more wickets just before lunch, Andrew Flintoff after scoring a quick-fire 46 and Geraint Jones for 42. After lunch Australia quickly dispatched the remaining two wickets for just a further 10 runs, bowling England out for a score of 444, with Glenn McGrath finishing on his worst-ever Test figures of nought for 86.

Australia started their innings tentatively with Matthew Hoggard dropping a low catch Matthew Hayden off his own bowling. Just before tea Australia lost their first wicket with Hayden out caught at short leg from Ashley Giles first over. After tea Australia lost another couple of wickets, Ricky Ponting caught for seven and Hayden given out lbw for 34. Gilchrist put on 30 before edging the first ball of Simon Jones' spell to Geraint Jones.

This brought in Michael Clarke who had been recuperating at the team hotel after damaging his back on the first day. Due to this injury, Clarke needed Hayden to act as a runner. Warne made inroads with the bat, just like at Edgbaston four days previously, but Clarke only managed to add seven runs before being deceived by a slower ball from Simon Jones. Warne and Jason Gillespie saw the day out with Warne finishing on 45 not out.

The day finished with Australia on 214 for 7, 230 behind and needing another 31 runs to avoid a follow-on. The score was adjusted from 210 overnight due to an umpire failing to signal four byes.

Day Three

Rain delayed the start of play until 16:00 BST, and even then only 8 overs were possible before play was again suspended, although a further 6 overs were bowled later on before yet more rain meant that play was abandoned for the day. Australia had the better of the short day's play, adding 50 runs without loss to pass the follow-on target, although Warne was lucky to survive on two occasions thanks to errors by Geraint Jones: when Warne had 55 he missed a relatively straightforward stumping opportunity, and on 68 he was dropped after edging a ball from Flintoff. Australia closed on 264 for 7, still 180 in arrears, but England probably felt that they missed several opportunities to put the game beyond their opponents.

Day Four

Having been hampered by a rain-shortened day three, the Australians were ready to put more wood to the ball on day four, and they did not disappoint. Warne continued his march towards his maiden Test century before holing out with a hook shot to a well placed Giles at 90. Simon Jones mopped up the other two wickets to bowl Australia out for 302, Jones finishing the innings with a career best figures of six for 53.

The English opening batsmen of Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick began England's response, scoring 26 before lunch. After lunch, Trescothick played on to be bowled after scoring 41 giving McGrath his first wicket of the match. Strauss put together a fine century, his sixth from just 17 matches, scoring 106 before getting out caught. Gilchrist demonstrated how difficult wicket-keeping was by missing two stumping opportunities to remove Bell and failing to hold a catch to remove Flintoff. Bell capitalised on Gilchrist's errors, partnering Strauss for 28 overs and recording a well deserved 65. Geraint Jones also added a swift 27 with England more concerned about scoring quickly than staying at the crease, and England declared on 280 to give them a spell at Australia in the evening and a chance of winning the match the next day. McGrath recorded another five-wicket haul in an innings, but was expensive, giving away 115 runs. Warne, despite bowling 25 overs, failed to take a wicket, recording figures of nought for 74.

Australia needed 423 to win, which would be a record fourth innings total to win a match. Australia saw out the last 10 overs without losing a wicket and put 24 runs, leaving 399.

Day Five

English hopes of a win were high, and 20,000 people were locked out of the stadium in addition to the 23,000 capacity crowd. Australia started the day needing 399 more runs from 98 overs if they were to claim an unlikely victory. The day started poorly for them with Langer falling for 14 on the seventh ball of the day, nicking a ball delivered by Matthew Hoggard behind to Geraint Jones. Ponting narrowly survived being run out early on and this proved crucial in the context of the match as the momentum gradually swung in Australia's direction. At one point Australia racked up runs at such a rate that a win became a real possibility. Despite losing Clarke and Jason Gillespie in quick succession to send the team to 264 for 7, Ponting battled on before eventually succumbing to Harmison after seven hours on the crease to record the first Australian century of the series with a score of 156. This was good enough to earn Man of the Match honours.

After the dismissal of Ponting, Australia were 354 for 9 with only four overs remaining, and another thrilling climax occurred with England having a real chance of snatching victory in similar fashion to the second Test. However, the unfancied pairing of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath handled the remaining 24 deliveries to finish on 371 for 9, 52 short of victory but sufficient to draw the game and leave the series tied at 1–1.

Fourth Test: 25th – 28th August, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England

England won by three wickets

Day One

Glenn McGrath was once again ruled out due to injury, this time to his elbow, and Australia also dropped the out-of-form Jason Gillespie, leaving them with a seam attack of Brett Lee, debutant Shaun Tait and Michael Kasprowicz. England, having been on top in the last two Tests, were unchanged.

England won the toss and chose to bat, and they got off to a flyer. Boosted by no-balls from the seamers — a total of 18 before lunch — Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss made hay quickly, and enjoyed batting on a pitch which gave the bowlers no aid. They recorded their second 100-run opening partnership of the series, before Strauss was freakishly dismissed for 35, sweeping Shane Warne onto his boot and into Matthew Hayden's waiting hands at slip — a wicket confirmed by the third umpire. Michael Vaughan continued on his fine form from Old Trafford, though, punishing bad balls from Brett Lee to go into lunch with his score on 14. Trescothick, meanwhile, rode his luck, as he was bowled off a no-ball on 55, much to Lee's displeasure. At lunch England were 129 for 1.

Only 3.1 overs were possible in the afternoon session due to rain. Coming back after tea, England immediately lost two wickets to Shaun Tait, who used the cloud cover to good effect and swung the ball well. However, Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen batted well together for a 67-run partnership, although they were each dropped once. Towards the end of the day, Ricky Ponting brought himself on, and his medium pace yielded a wicket — that of Vaughan for 58. Overnight, the match was evenly poised with England 229 for 4.

Day Two

Australia dismissed Pietersen at the beginning of the morning's play, edging a full oustwinger from Lee through to wicket keeper Gilchrist. But an unbeaten century partnership from Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones took England's score to 344 for 5 at lunch.

After lunch, the pair continued to score quickly for another hour, and extended their partnership to 177 before Flintoff was lbw to Tait for 102, his first Test century against Australia. The loss of Flintoff did not deter the English, as Jones continued to hit runs through the off side on the way to his highest score against the Australians, making 85 before he was caught and bowled by Kasprowicz. The next two wickets fell quickly, but a stubborn last-wicket partnership of 23 between Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones — including an incident where the ball hit the stumps but the bails failed to fall off — saw England to 477 all out at tea.

In the evening session, England's bowlers, especially Matthew Hoggard, managed to find much more swing than the Australian bowlers had done, and ripped through the Australian top order. The first three wickets fell in a crucial period of 11 balls (although the third, which dismissed Damien Martyn lbw, was a poor decision — television replays indicated that the ball hit the bat before the body). By stumps Australia had been reduced to 99 for 5 to complete an excellent day for England.

Day Three

Simon Katich and Adam Gilchrist decided that attack was the best form of defense, adding 58 in only 8.5 overs in the morning, before England came back to take the next four wickets for the addition of only 18 runs, leaving Australia perilously placed at 175 for 9. Simon Jones was the main culprit, using swing to good effect as he removed Katich and Warne in successive balls, and then had Kasprowicz clean bowled. Brett Lee added 47 in 44 balls, including three huge sixes, to take Australia's score to 218, before he was caught off Simon Jones's bowling to give Jones his fifth wicket of the innings. Despite their aggressive batting, Australia therefore finished the first innings 259 runs behind.

Michael Vaughan then gambled, by enforcing the follow-on on the visitors (the first time Australia had followed on in 17 years). By lunch, Australia had reached 14 without loss in their second innings, and they powered on in the afternoon session, only losing Matthew Hayden and adding 100 more runs before tea. For England, the afternoon session was their worst of the match — to compound their misery, Simon Jones showed signs of injury, and Andrew Strauss dropped Justin Langer on 38.

In the evening session, England managed to take three wickets, but also dropped a catch and missed a stumping. Australia thus finished the day still 37 runs in arrears but with six wickets still in hand. Simon Jones also went off the field during the evening session with an ankle injury, and was taken to hospital for an ankle scan. While Jones was off the field receiving attention, substitute fielder Gary Pratt ran out Australian captain Ricky Ponting. As he left the field, Ponting, expressed his displeasure to the England dressing room at their frequent use of subs - allegedly to keep their key bowlers fresh. Although this tactic was widely felt by commentators to be against the spirit of the game there was no legal stipulation against it. Ironically, Pratt was on the field due to a genuinely serious injury to Simon Jones, one that kept him out of international cricket for the next two years.

Day Four

Day Four began in earnest with Michael Clarke and Simon Katich continuing their partnership from the previous day. However, Katich had already twice flirted with dismissal, saved only by chance both times. In the words of BBC cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, "It's very much a game of chess - white-flannelled figures on green grass." The English and the Australians proceeded into a cold war for a good part of the morning, with England attempting to frustrate the Australian batting, but with the latter refusing to take the bait. England's lead slowly evaporated without a wicket falling, but Matthew Hoggard's taking of Clarke's and then Adam Gilchrist's scalps on either side of the lunch break swung the initiative back into England's hands.

The injury to Simon Jones became somewhat obvious as the pacers struggled to capture the magic that Jones had created the previous day that had forced Australia to follow on. Despite this, the Australian run rate remained low as both sides stared each other down. Mistakes by Geraint Jones and Kevin Pietersen were quickly nullified by the dismissal of Warne for 45 and Kasprowicz for 19, and after a few overs' resistance Tait was bowled middle stump for 4, leaving 129 for the English to chase after tea.

England then proceeded to send the game into a nail biter — English wickets fell quickly as Shane Warne took four wickets (including those of Marcus Trescothick (27), Michael Vaughan (0) and Andrew Strauss (23)). Brett Lee dismissed Ian Bell (3) and at 57 for 4 England were in trouble. Andrew Flintoff (26) and Kevin Pietersen (23) then steadied the ship with an invaluable partnership of 46 before both fell in quick succession to Lee. Despite Geraint Jones (3) being dismissed cheaply, the partnership of Ashley Giles (7) and Matthew Hoggard (8) guided the English home. Man of the match honors went to Andrew Flintoff, but more importantly this gave the English a crucial 2–1 edge heading back to London for the fifth and final Test, ensuring that they could not lose the series. However, with the Ashes going to Australia in the event of a drawn series, there was still all to play for at The Oval.

Fifth Test: 8th-12th September, The Oval, London, England

Match Drawn; ENG won series 2-1

Team changes

Australia named Glenn McGrath, recovered from an elbow injury, to replace Michael Kasprowicz. England's Simon Jones did not recover from his ankle injury from the previous Test in time to be included in the England team, and was replaced after much speculation by all-rounder Paul Collingwood, in preference to specialist fast bowler James Anderson.

Day One

The final match to decide the fate of the legendary Ashes urn finally began, and the proverbial first blood was drawn by England as Michael Vaughan won his third toss of the series (much to the delight of the Brit Oval crowd). Vaughan elected to have his English side to bat first, and the English first innings got underway. Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss added 82 for the first wicket, as England's batsmen looked to take on the Australians, but subtle spin variations bowled from Shane Warne yielded three wickets as England went to lunch on 115 for 3.

Shane Warne continued after lunch by taking the wicket of Kevin Pietersen for 14. Andrew Flintoff emerged to form a vital partnership of 143 with Andrew Strauss, before to falling to Glenn McGrath for 72 an hour after tea. Strauss made his 2nd century of the series, before being dismissed by Shane Warne off an acrobatic catch by Simon Katich. The day ended with Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles at the crease, with England 319 for 7. Certain forecasts for London called for showers sometime during the weekend, which, it was thought, might wipe up to a day of action or more from the ledger.

Day Two

Day two began positively for the Australians, with Jones being bowled for 25 off Brett Lee, and Matthew Hoggard managing a meagre 2 before being dismissed by McGrath. However, Ashley Giles and Steve Harmison frustrated the Australians by taking the score past 370, before Warne trapped Giles lbw shortly before midday, leaving England all out for 373.

The Australian first innings got off to a solid start, with Justin Langer forging a 100 partnership with fellow opener Matthew Hayden — the first opening-partnership century of the series by the Australian cricket team. Langer played some blistering strokes off Giles' bowling in particular, but survived a sharp chance to Marcus Trescothick at first slip. The Australians were offered the light immediately after tea, despite the English protesting and wanting to bowl Giles. The Australians accepted it, and the light never improved, with light rain coming down later. Thus, the day concluded with Australia 112/0, 261 runs behind England.

Day Three

After a delay for wet field conditions, the third day began with a flurry of action, as both Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden had close calls with lbw appeals, which replays suggested should have been out, and shies at the stumps that just missed. However, no batsman was given out in the morning session, where only 14 overs of play was possible due to rain. Australia added 45 runs in that time.

After lunch Hayden and Langer continued their solid batting, frustrating the England bowlers, with Langer reaching his 22nd Test century. Shortly afterwards, England gained a minor victory as Harmison dismissed Justin Langer, who departed to a rapturous ovation. Ricky Ponting should then have been dismissed for a bat-pad catch off Giles, but Bowden turned down the appeal. Hayden also achieved three-figure success later in the day - his first century for over a year, while Flintoff's hostile and accurate bowling was rewarded with the wicket of Ricky Ponting, caught at slip by Strauss. With this wicket, Andrew Flintoff equalled Ian Botham's hitherto unique achievement of 300 runs and 20 wickets in an Ashes series. Flintoff had a later appeal for a catch behind turned down by Rudi Koertzen, despite it hitting the bat.

The Australian batsmen once again ended the day early by accepting an offer of bad light, bringing a much-interrupted day to a close after only 45.4 overs. Thanks to dogged batting and at least four umpiring decisions in their favour on the third day, they finished 96 runs behind with eight wickets of their first innings intact.

Day Four

The fourth day started brightly for England, Damien Martyn hooking a short ball from Flintoff straight into the hands of Collingwood, in the third over of the day, having added only one to his overnight score of nine. Further wickets fell, with an excellent knock by Matthew Hayden been brought to an end by Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff continued with impetus and trapped Simon Katich lbw for 1, before Hoggard had Adam Gilchrist lbw with an inswinger at the stroke of lunch. Gilchrist, however, had added a quick 23 that could be vital, as Australia went into the pavilion 17 runs behind with four wickets in hand.

However, it only took six post-lunch overs for England to end the Australian effort. Geraint Jones dropped a catch off Michael Clarke's bat, but it did not prove to be crucial, as Clarke was lbw to Hoggard in the next over. Warne and McGrath both went for ducks, caught off a mistimed hook and in the slips respectively. Finally Hoggard had Brett Lee (6) caught in the deep and Australia were bowled out for 367. Flintoff finished with five wickets, the second five-for of his career, while Hoggard's four for 97 was his best return of the series.

Thus England, who had expected to begin their second innings chasing a hundred runs or more, were actually leading by six as they took up their bats in mid-afternoon. Australia took a very quick wicket, that of Andrew Strauss, who was dismissed again by Shane Warne, caught bat-and-pad by Katich for a solitary run. The wicket was Warne's 167th against England, equalling Dennis Lillee's Ashes bowling record. 11 balls after this dismissal, umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden judged it unfair to continue play due to inadequate light. One additional session of play was however subsequently possible, taking England to a 40-run lead without further loss, before poor light ended the day.

Day Five

The fifth day began with the game still finely balanced. Ponting put his trust in his two proven wicket takers -- McGrath and Warne. England batted well for forty minutes, with Vaughan taking the game to the Australian bowlers, but McGrath produced two beautiful outswingers to dismiss him and Ian Bell (for a pair) with consecutive deliveries. The Australian charge was diminished by a couple of uncharacteristic dropped catches, but Warne and McGrath combined to take 4 wickets before lunch, leaving England 133 runs ahead with 5 wickets remaining.

The afternoon session was anchored by Pietersen, the beneficiary of three dropped catches, who scored his maiden Test century, with obdurate support from Collingwood and Giles. The session saw only two wickets fall, Collingwood was caught acrobatically by silly mid-off Ponting for 10, and Geraint Jones (1) decisively bowled when he was deceived by a rapid Tait delivery. Pietersen was finally dismissed for 158, a superlative innings including 15 fours and 7 sixes, while Ashley Giles added 59 and Steve Harmison was dismissed for a duck to bring Australia into bat with less than 19 overs remaining.

As the Australians began their innings, it was clear that not enough time remained for them to make up the 341 runs by which they trailed. Almost immediately they were offered the light; and having accepted it, both teams had to return to the dressing-rooms to wait for a formal finish. The situation became somewhat farcical. With the match effectively over, the crowd were eager for the Ashes to be presented to England, and the celebrations to begin. After a period of some uncertainty and confusion, at 18:17 BST umpires Koertzen and Bowden removed the bails and pulled up the stumps to signal the end of the match. With no result in this fifth and final Test, England took the series 2-1, regaining the Ashes for the first time since 1987.

Kevin Pietersen, having scored his maiden Test century at a crucial point, was voted Man of the Match by Channel 4 viewers. Andrew Flintoff was chosen by Australian coach John Buchanan as English Man of the Series while English coach Duncan Fletcher selected Shane Warne as the Australian Man of the Series. The new Compton-Miller Award for the overall man of the series (as selected by each side's chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns and David Graveney) was also presented to Andrew Flintoff. Finally, the replica urn was presented to jubilant English skipper Michael Vaughan, thus ending the series in favour of the home side.


Shane Warne became the all time leading wicket taker in The Ashes series having taken a total of 172. He also passed the 600 wicket mark having 623 by the end of the series. Glenn McGrath passed the 500 wicket milestone ending up with 518. Andrew Flintoff became the first Englishman to claim over 20 wickets and 400 runs (24 wickets and 402 runs) in a series.

Post-match reactions

Immediately following the final match, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sent a congratulatory memo to Michael Vaughan and the team, saying: "My warmest congratulations to you, the England cricket team and all in the squad for the magnificent achievement of regaining the Ashes... both sides can take credit for giving us all such a wonderfully exciting and entertaining summer of cricket at its best."

Political leaders like Prime Minister Tony Blair, Conservative leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy also sent their congratulations, Blair stating that "By bringing the Ashes back after so long you have given cricket a huge boost and lit up the whole summer".

Howard added "... Vaughan, his team, and all involved, should be proud of this achievement and the manner in which they have played during this extraordinary summer of excitement and tension."

"England's victory is historic, and I send hearty congratulations to the team... It has been impossible not to get caught up by the excitement and sense of good will in the past few days," stated Kennedy.

On the other end of the ledger Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard (who was in New York for a UN summit and was given the bad news by an aide during a luncheon with the Asia Society) was gracious in his congratulations to England.

"Look, there's natural disappointment but it's a situation where you give credit to the team that won," Howard stated, noting that there would not be a national day of mourning. "They will no doubt celebrate and that will be difficult for some, but that's the nature of these contests and we should not take anything away from England...They played very well. It's the best team that England has had for a very long period of time."

England team parade

On Tuesday 13 September, England, along with their Women's Ashes winning counterparts, were feted with a 90-minute bus tour from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square, where they were greeted by tens of thousands of Londoners and cricket fans in a celebration of their momentous achievements (to the surprise of Hoggard, who expected "three men and a dog").

Thousands of people also lined the streets along the parade route as the two buses made their way to Trafalgar Square, as the team soaked up the feteing. While the rest of the team simply enjoyed the sights, 5th Test Man-of-the-Match Kevin Pietersen sprayed champagne from the bus onto joyous revelers on the street, while wicketkeeper Geraint Jones held onto a Dalek doll with the words "Australians exterminated" attached to it. (Ironically, Jones learned most of his cricket Down Under!)

At Trafalgar Square, the crowd was treated to a victory celebration for both England teams, and before the ceremony closed the square broke into a rendition of "Jerusalem", which has become an unofficial hymn for the team during the 5th Test. Interviews were carried out with all members of the men's team and Clare Connor, the captain of the women's team, by David Gower and Mark Nicholas, while the ceremony was broadcast live in the UK on BBC One, Channel 4 and Sky Sports News and around the world. Afterwards, the side was entertained by the Prime Minister as guests of honour at 10 Downing Street, then returned the urn to its sacred home at Lord's Cricket Ground for safekeeping.

Australian criticism

Almost immediately criticism began in Australia; the Sydney Morning Herald immediately took issue with the fact that not only was captain Ricky Ponting outstrategised by his opposite number Vaughan, but the side in itself was too old and simply did not score the runs when they were needed. The Age of Melbourne criticised the team for opening their big mouths once too often, hitting at Australia's earlier whitewash boast. Psychological warfare, The Age went on to state, is great when it works, but when it backfires those who are responsible ought to be brought to account.

Former fast bowler Dennis Lillee was particularly scathing. Writing in Perth's The West Australian, he stated that all who perpetrated this "disaster" must be sacked, and Shane Warne be appointed the captain in place of Ponting (because of how Warne had delivered time and again in the series). Losing to other sides is not the end of the world, stated Lillee, but losing the Ashes is.

Former captain Steve Waugh defended the side, calling it "a very good side, a really experienced side. They will be disappointed but they will move on from it," he said, but also conceding that the selectors were likely to ponder a few changes given that only three of the Australia team at The Oval were aged under 30. "They'll have a couple of players in mind which they will bring in the side over the next couple of years,"

Along with Waugh, selector and former batsman David Boon defended their selections. "Sometimes you're going to have to make a hard decision to keep a subtle rotation going through so you don't have mass retirements...But you've also got to pick the best cricket team you possibly can to represent your country", he stated. "If we keep producing cricketers who are 25 plus, they're mature, they're ready to play, they've still got a seven or eight-year career, then we're doing OK."

Ponting Hits Back, the Axe Falls

Ponting was confronted by a large media pack shortly after his arrival at Sydney Airport and said he wasn't aware of Lillee's comments. "I'm not concerned about those things. As long as I am doing the right thing by everyone in my dressing room as the team and the coaching staff, well then that's all I can do... But as long as I am looking after the guys in my dressing room, then I'll be happy," Ponting stated, adding that he wished to remain captain.

Ponting also responded to Lillee's comments that Shane Warne should be captain, and that he made more decisions than Ponting during the series: "I like to talk to a lot of guys out on the field and use their ideas and thoughts. I'll go to Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) and even Matty Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn... The way I think is not going to be right 100 percent of the time, but that's the way I do it. Warne has got a cricket brain as good as anybody around. But I wouldn't agree [he was the pseudo captain]."

Regardless, when the Australian side for the Johnnie Walker ICC Super Series was announced, three members of the Ashes-losing side were dropped: Damien Martyn was retained only for the ODI squad, while Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz were dropped altogether. Brad Hodge, Stuart MacGill and Shane Watson were added in their places. While Cricket Australia officials have assured that these omissions are not a signal that the Test careers of these three players are over, many experts say otherwise. Lillee once again called for the replacement of Ponting as captain with Warne after the squad announcement, however this was once again rejected.

England's Epilogue

With England's victory in the series, the top of the ICC Test Championship rankings ladder changed slightly as the English closed in on the top-ranked Aussies. In a BBC interview the week after the series, Simon Jones claimed that the English should one day be regarded as the best, despite statistics and the Test Championship rankings speaking otherwise.

"The Ashes series was talked about so much. People were wondering if England could do it and Glenn McGrath said Australia would win 5-0, but we beat them 2-1 and could have been 3-1 up after Old Trafford," Jones told the BBC. "Australia are statistically the best side in the world, and rightly so. They've played so much great cricket over the past 10 years and built up an advantage on the points system... But I think that's changing and hopefully we will have the mantle one day."

Meanwhile, as Pakistan and India prepared for the Ashes keepers' visit in the winter, with the Pakistanis relishing the opportunity to test their mettle against the side that took down the Australians, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer stated, "England have done well but they have still to create that aura of invincibility of the West Indies of the 1970s and 80s and Australia recently. The side which does well in all three departments will win the series and we have to be very disciplined against England, who have quality batsmen and bowlers."

Following their performances in the series both Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan were given the Freedom of the City in their home towns of Preston and Sheffield.

On 29 September, the Royal Mail issued a set of four stamps commemorating the Ashes victory. The stamps cost 68p — which is, incidentally, the cost of sending first-class mail to Australia.

In the 2006 New Year's Honours List, the members of the England team were awarded the MBE, for their roles in the successful Ashes victory. There was some critical comment that the limited role of some did not warrant the honour. However, after the following series in which Australia regained the Ashes in a 5-0 whitewash, the English public began to criticise the celebrations of the previous year. This issue also flared up during the test series when Shane Warne commented on Paul Collingwood's MBE for scoring 17 runs during the 2005 series. Former England captain Geoff Boycott critised the fact that the MBE had been awarded to the whole side when Warne, who had already taken over 500 wickets by then, had not been honoured.