England v Australia, Edgbaston, 2005. The Greatest Test? Most people say so and so now to voters from an online poll led by BBC Sport. And not just the greatest Test at Edgbaston.
England v Australia, Edgbaston, 2005. The Greatest Test?
Many people say so and now voters from an online poll led by BBC Sport have ranked it second only to Headingley in 1981 out of the previous 999.
Every cricket follower remembers where they were on the morning of Sunday August 7, 2005, when Steven Harmison ran in one more time to bowl to Michael Kasprowicz. The Aussie number 11 had joined Brett Lee at the crease with 62 runs needed for victory and, amid excruciating tension, the pair had collected 59 of them.
Inside an enthralled Edgbaston (full to the brim for the fourth day even though the match could have been over in two balls) and monitored by millions more captivated worldwide, England had advanced to the threshold of a win to level the series, then got stuck there.
Then, one more time…Harmison to Kasprovicz.
It’s an ordinary delivery, short and leg-side, but the batsmen gloves it – and Geraint Jones takes a tumbling catch. Edgbaston explodes into noise. England’s players cavort. The batsmen sink to their knees. England have won by two runs and the series is level. Unbelievable.
If the end of the match was incredible, its start had been spectacular too as Michael Vaughan’s side, stung by heavy defeat in the first Test at Lord’s, came out all guns blazing. Bizarrely put in by Ricky Ponting, they amassed 407 – the most runs conceded by Australia on the opening day of a Test since 1938 – as Marcus Trescothick scored 90, Kevin Pietersen 71 and Andrew Flintoff 68.
On the second day, Flintoff and Ashley Giles took three wickets apiece as England secured a first-innings lead of 99 but on the third, the Aussies showed their fight and their quality. The contrasting forces of Lee and Shane Warne shared all ten wickets as England were bowled out for 182, with only Flintoff’s hard-hit 73 preventing total implosion. Australia required 282 to win.
They started solidly: 47 without loss. Then Flintoff struck twice: 48 for two. Further wickets from Harmison, Giles, Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones, left them 137 for seven. England claimed the extra half-hour on the third evening but took only one wicket during it. Australia would resume on the fourth day on 175 for eight.
On that famous Sunday morning, Shane Warne and Lee took the score to 220 before the former trod on his stumps. Kasprovicz joined Lee. And then…well, as one esteemed football writer put it: “Might as well admit it now…nothing in the next nine months of overhyped, overpaid, bladder-chasing is likely to be as gripping, as heroic or as memorable as the denouement of the Edgbaston test match.” The Greatest!