Australia had lost eight wickets for 173 in the 282-run chase. The English win looked as clear as the daylight as hapless Australia pinned their hopes on Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz to bail them out from the situation. The match was surely over -- or was it?
On this day 15 years ago, the Ashes produced one of the greatest Tests in its history -- and possibly, in overall Test cricket too, as England held their nerves to secure a thrilling 2-run victory over Australia to win the second Test in Edgbaston, levelling the series 1-1.
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Australia had won the first Test by a fair margin - 239 runs, to be precise. The pressure was on the hosts who were aiming for a first Ashes series victory since 1986-87. It was the era of Australian dominance and Michael Vaughan's side stepped on to the Edgbaston ground to save the series.
England started the second Test strongly, with contributions from Marcus Trescothick (90), Kevin Pietersen (71) and Andrew Flintoff (68) steering the hosts to 407 in the first innings. An English win began to look likely when Flintoff, Ashley Giles and Simon Jones performed impressively with the ball, bowling out the Australians on 308.
However, England collapsed on 182 in the second innings -- which was, still, a respectable score after their first four batsmen were back in the hut for a combined total of 29. Flintoff, again, played a crucial knock of 73 in 86 deliveries to keep England in the fight.
#OnThisDay in 2005, one of the greatest Tests of all time came to a thrilling conclusion, as England beat Australia by two runs at Edgbaston 😮
Who remembers this iconic image from the game? pic.twitter.com/6dllZ3GjRI— ICC (@ICC) August 7, 2020
Australia made a cautious start to the 282-run chase, with Mathew Hayden and Justin Langer adding 47 runs for the first wicket. Then, the doors opened and England made a brilliant comeback in the game, removing Ricky Ponting (0), Damien Martyn (28), Michael Clarke (30), Simon Katich (16) and Adam Gilchrist (1) cheaply to destroy the Australian hopes.
At 173/8, Brett Lee joined Shane Warne to rescue the visitors from an almost inevitable loss. As the ball grew older, both the batsmen began to find feet as the two added 45 runs for the ninth wicket before Warne was dismissed in the most unlikely of fashion - hit-wicket.
Kasprowicz joined Lee and two showed enormous grit to steer the Australian innings home, which looked likely as the two continued to brave the English attack. After adding 59 runs for the last wicket, Australia needed merely three runs to win and two to tie when Kasprowicz was taken aback with a short ball. He tried to get away but failed, as wicketkeeper Geraint Jones took the catch to break Aussie hearts.
Michael Vaughan had later said that the series would've ended in a "whitewash" win for Australia if England hadn't won the Edgbaston Test.
“If we’d have lost that game, I think it could possibly have even been a whitewash," recalls Michael Vaughan. The team wouldn’t have been able to respond - we’d played so well. I was thinking ‘how do I pick this team up if we lose this game?’ I don’t think there would have been any positivity to take to Old Trafford just a few days later. We were in the series now. We had a sniff. The players were confident, particularly the pivotal members of the side. Flintoff playing the game he did, it was time to start getting a little excited about winning the Ashes," Vaughan had said.
England eventually went on to win the series 2-1.