Second Test: England V Australia (4–7 August)
407 (79.2 overs)
308 (76 overs)
|England won by 2 runs
|182 (52.1 overs)||279 (64.3 overs)|
The psychological battles before the match included many Australian statements to the press about how the pitch "played into 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 missed McGrath's superior control and wicket-taking abilities in the match.
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.
England's total could have been significantly higher with a bit more top-order application, especially given the high scoring rate. 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, when England held a lead of 124 runs, with nine wickets in hand.
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 recognised 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 he was caught by Hayden, and Harmison faced one delivery to leave England at 131 for 9.
Simon 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 he was bowled by Warne. Warne finished with figures of six for 46 from 23.1 overs, having bowled unchanged from the seventh over till the end; however, as luck and Australia's batsmen would have it, his failure to get Flintoff out earlier would be crucial.
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 offstump 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.
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 Australia edging towards victory, preferring singles to risky boundaries, England were now bowling aggressive short balls at the tail-enders, hoping for short catches or to surprise the batsmen with a yorker. With four runs needed to win, Lee drove Harmison's attempted yorker towards the boundary where it was fielded. The Australians crossed for a single, leaving three runs to win with the weaker batsman Kasprowicz on strike. Harmison delivered another short ball, which Kasprowicz fended and Jones took an athletic catch down the leg side. England appealed, and Kasprowicz was given out caught by Bowden. However subsequent replays suggested that the ball contacted Kasprowicz's glove while not in contact with the bat handle, rendering Bowden's decision technically incorrect. England were nonetheless declared victors – if in almost the most narrow way possible – and the series was thus 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 batsman, 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.
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