1. ITV Report

The Ashes: Three great Midlands contests

Andrew Flintoff celebrates dismissing Jason Gillespie at Edgbaston in 2005 Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Archive


England won by 2 runs.

England came into the 2005 Ashes series confident of breaking an Australian dominance which stretched back to 1989. Australia were by far the best side in the world and, once again, showed why in the first Test as Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne destroyed the England batting line-up at Lords.

England were handed a boost before the toss with the news that McGrath was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury sustained while playing rugby.

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and put England into bat - a decision which has gone down as a turning point in the series. England became the first team to score 400 on the first day against Australia since 1928 as they scored 407.

On day two England chipped away at Australia's batting line-up, restricting them to 308 all-out to give them a 99-run lead.

England collapsed on day three thanks to Shane Warne, falling to 31 for 4 and then to 131 for 9 to give them a lead of just 230. But Andrew Flintoff smashed a quick-fire 73, the only man to score more than 25, as England finished with a lead of 281.

Australia started well and were on 47 for no loss before Flintoff intervened, taking two wickets in his first over to swing the momentum back in England's favour. England took six more wickets to leave them needing just two more on the final day with Australia still needing 107 runs.

Australia fought back and needed three to win with just one wicket remaining. But Steve Harmison's bouncer was gloved by Michael Kasprowicz and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones took a stunning diving catch to seal the second narrowest win in Test cricket history.


England won by 3 wickets.

Gary Pratt celebrates the controversial wicket of Australia's Ricky Ponting Credit: Jon Buckle/EMPICS Sport

As with the Second Test at Edgbaston, England received an early boost with Glenn McGrath ruled out, once more, through injury.

England won the toss and chose to bat, beginning excellently with Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick scoring their second 100-run partnership of the series. Flintoff continued their good scoring on the second day as he brought up his first Test century against Australia before being dismissed for 102. Geraint Jones also scored 85 as England were bowled out for 477 before tea on the second day.

England's bowlers caused carnage in the Australian top order with Matthew Hoggard's swing tearing through the top order. Australia finished the day on 99 for 5.

Some early-morning hitting added some quick runs for Australia but they still only managed 218 all-out, 259 runs behind England. Michael Vaughan had the pleasure of becoming the first captain in 17 years to enforce the follow-on against Australia.

The second innings was better for Australia who ended day three just 37 runs behind with four wickets still in hand. But one of the more iconic moments of the series took place with England substitute fielder Gary Pratt running out skipper Ricky Ponting. As he left the field Ponting expressed his displeasure at the England dressing-room over their use of substitute fielders to allegedly rest their bowlers.

England continued to chip away through the middle order as the pitch became more difficult to score off. Australia were eventually dismissed just after tea to leave England needing just 129 to take a series lead.

But England sent a chilling reminder to their fans of the dark days of English batting collapses as they fell to 57 for 4. Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen put together a crucial partnership of 46 before both fell quickly. But Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard brought England home to a 2-1 series lead.


England won by 29 runs.

Ian Botham produced a blistering spell on the final day to help defeat Australia Credit: PA

Edgbaston 1981 will always be overshadowed by the previous Headingley Test match, considered one of the greatest of all time, but it too was an instant classic.

With the series level at 1-1, England won the toss and chose to bat. Australia struggled initially but England played carelessly (perhaps still running on the adrenalin of the Headingley Test) and Terry Alderman took five wickets as England were bowled out for 189.

The first day finished with 12 wickets falling for 208 runs and day two was as much of a struggle for batsmen. Australia lost their last five wickets for 53 runs as they finished 258 all out with a lead of 53 runs.

England then fell to 167 for eight by tea on the third day, a lead of just 99, but Bob Taylor and Bob Willis took the attack to the Aussies putting on 50 for the ninth wicket. England eventually reached 219 meaning Australia needed 151 to win.

Australia had 40 minutes at the end of the day to bat but lost Graeme Wood before the close of play. The following morning, Bob Willis again proved to catalyst as he took two quick wickets to leave the tourists on 62 for three at lunch.

Australia then moved to 105-4 before Ian Botham made his mark on the Test. Having struggled before then he rediscovered his blistering Headingley form to take five wickets for just one run in five overs as Australia collapsed to 121 all out.

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