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Australian cricket team in England in 2005

The Australian cricket team landed in England on 6 June 2005. Over the course of the summer, they played one Twenty20 International, a one-day triangular tournament with both Bangladesh and England, a one-day tournament with England, and five Test matches, the outcome of which would decide The Ashes. With Australia the top-ranked team in the World Test table, and England the second-ranked, this was the most eagerly anticipated Ashes series since the 1980s.


Warm-up matches

Australia won their first two warm-up games, a Twenty20 game against the PCA Masters XI at Arundel and a 50-over game against Leicestershire emphatically. However, the tide turned as they lost their next matches, firstly by 100 runs against England in a Twenty20 game, followed by a remarkable defeat to Somerset in a very high scoring match at Taunton.

One-day International series

The first international matches scheduled were as part of the Natwest Series against England and Bangladesh. In their first match, Australia lost to Bangladesh by five wickets in the last over, perhaps the biggest upset in recent memory. Just before that game Andrew Symonds was dropped for disciplinary reasons. The following day, Australia lost their second match in a row to England, due mainly to Kevin Pietersen's late batting onslaught. However, Australia remained undefeated throughout the rest of the series to tie a thrilling final against England at Lord's.

Australia's next tournament was a three match Natwest Challenge One-day International tournament against England. Despite losing the first match, they bounced back to take the series 2-1. After a drawn 3-day match against Leicestershire, the main part of the tour - the Tests against England for The Ashes - were about to start.

The Ashes Tests

Main article: 2005 Ashes series

With all the hype preceding Australia's arrival in England, especially Glenn McGrath's assertion that Australia would win 5-0, many people expected a good, tight contest, although Australia's fans predicted a clear overall victory. English fans were quietly confident that their strong run - winning 15 and drawing 2 of their last 18 Test matches - would continue and they could at least stand up to Australia, having lost the last eight Ashes series.

First Test

What followed surprised everyone - England's hostile pace bowling ripped through Australia in the first Test, reducing them to 190 all out. However, Australia replied in style by skittling England out for 155, with only Pietersen - playing in his Test debut - able to resist. During this innings, McGrath took his 500th Test wicket. Australia then fared considerably better in their second innings to win the first Test by 239 runs.

Second Test

After another drawn 3-day match, this time against Worcestershire, came a pivotal moment of the series. While warming up for the second Test at Edgbaston, McGrath injured his ankle stepping on a cricket ball and was unable to play in the Test. At the last moment, Michael Kasprowicz was included in the team, but Australia had lost their bowling spearhead.

Having won the toss, the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, decided to bowl first on a pitch suited for batting. England batted quickly and aggressively, scoring over 400 runs on the first day. England finished with a 99 run lead after the first innings, and although the Australians put up a fighting tail-end batting display on the fourth day (they needed 107 runs with only two wickets in hand at the end of the third day), England held on to win by two runs - the closest runs victory in Ashes history.

Third Test

The third Test match was held at Old Trafford, and again England took a large first innings lead, the England innings notable for Shane Warne taking his 600th Test wicket and Michael Vaughan scoring the first century of the series. Glenn McGrath had also returned from injury, returning the Australian side to full strength. Due to rain delays, the Australian first innings did not finish until the fourth day.

England then set about scoring quickly in their second innings (with the aim of declaring and bowling Australia out to win), setting Australia 423 to win with only a day and 10 overs remaining. Ricky Ponting batted for seven hours on the final day to score the first Australian century of the series, but was dismissed with only four overs left and Australia's last two batsmen facing them. Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath managed to hang on for those four overs to salvage a draw for Australia, with England unable to take the last wicket.

Australia then played a two-day match against Northants, a drawn match in which Australia opted for batting practice instead of trying to force the win.

Fourth Test

For the second time in less than a month, Glenn McGrath was ruled out of a test due to injury - this time with elbow problems. Australia also dropped Jason Gillespie from their side after taking just three wickets so far in the series. In contrast, England remained with their original starting XI from the first Test. They carried on their first innings form with their best of the series (477 all out), before England's bowlers managed to swing the ball prodigiously to leave Australia at 99/5 and 175/9. Despite the best efforts of Brett Lee, Australia finished 259 runs behind England and were asked to follow-on - for the first time in 17 years. However, with the need to bowl for two innings in a row, Simon Jones, England's best swing bowler, started showing signs of injury and was taken to hospital for a scan on his ankle. Australia were then able to post a target for England to chase, but on a wearing pitch with Shane Warne getting large amounts of turn, England struggled in their pursuit of 129, winning by three wickets in the end.

Australia then played a two-day match against Essex, in which Essex reached 500 in the first day before declaring, while Australia reached 500 on the second day. The match finished in a high-scoring draw, as no team was able to dismiss the other twice.

Fifth Test

For the first time in the series, England made a change to their side - Simon Jones' ankle injury meant that England needed to replace him. With England 2-1 up with one to play, Australia needed a victory to level the series (and thus retain the Ashes). With this in mind, England decided to call up Paul Collingwood, an all-rounder and England's best fielder, rather than a like-for-like bowler.

England won the toss and elected to bat, reaching 373 in their first innings. Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer then batted through to the end of the second day, coming off for bad light before the scheduled close of play. With Australia needing to force the victory, many were surprised at this move.

The third day was also affected by rain and bad light, with only half of the scheduled overs being bowled. Australia again came off early for bad light, but as they were only 96 runs behind England and still had eight wickets in hand, they were possibly hoping to establish a significant lead and bowl England out cheaply.

An Australian collapse after lunch on the fourth day meant England were actually leading by six runs after the first innings. With Australia needing to dismiss England and score more runs than them, England merely had to bat for as long as possible, denying Australia the time needed to force victory. Thanks to Kevin Pietersen's maiden Test century on the fifth day, and Paul Collingwood batting patiently for 10 runs in 51 minutes in the second innings, Australia were left with a target of 342 runs with only 19 overs remaining in the day. With Steve Harmison opening the bowling for England, Australia were offered the light in the first over of their second innings and accepted, leaving Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden to remove the bails at 18:17 BST to signal a drawn match and the series victory for England.

During the presentations, Pietersen was voted Man of the match for his innings of 158, while Andrew Flintoff and Shane Warne received the Man of the Series awards, nominated by the opposing team coaches (Duncan Fletcher for England and John Buchanan for Australia). In addition, Flintoff was awarded the inaugural Compton-Miller medal for the overall "Man of the Series", nominated by the two chairmen of selectors, David Graveney and Trevor Hohns.

The matches

Limited-over games

PCA Masters XI v Australians (9 June)

The Australians beat the PCA Masters XI by 8 wickets

The 2005 Ashes tour started with the Australians taking on a Professional Cricketers' Association eleven at the picturesque ground at Arundel in a Twenty20 game. A crowd of 11,000 turned up to see the tourists win with one ball to spare, although in practice the result was always clear after an opening partnership of 131 between Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. The Aussies got an ideal start as Stephen Fleming edged Brett Lee's first delivery to the slips and the Masters XI were 0 for 1, having been put in to bat by Australia. Darren Maddy made 70 in 57 balls and Paul Collingwood (38) and Mark Ealham (39) also scored runs, but the rest of the team made little impression as the PCA Masters XI made 167 for 6. The Aussies lost only two wickets in making their target. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Leicestershire v Australians (11 June)

The Australians beat Leicestershire by 95 runs

The Australians put in a strong performance at Grace Road, with Matthew Hayden making 107 off 96 balls, Damien Martyn 85 off 103 and Andrew Symonds 92 off 59 as they made a huge 321 for 4 off their 50 overs. 72 of their runs came off the final 5 overs. Leicestershire never threatened in reply, with Ottis Gibson, who came in at 8, the only man to make 50. Gibson had earlier taken two wickets for Leicestershire, who finished well short of the target on 226 for 8. (Cricinfo scorecard)

England v Australia (13 June)

13 June 2005
England 23x15px
179/8 (20 overs)
23x15px Australia
79 (14.3 overs)
PD Collingwood 46 (26)
GD McGrath 3/31 [4]
JN Gillespie 24 (18)
J Lewis 4/24 [4]
England won by 100 runs
Rose Bowl, Southampton
Umpires: NJ Llong (Eng) and JW Lloyds (Eng)
Player of the match: KP Pietersen (Eng)
  • England won the toss and elected to bat.

England started cautiously in the only Twenty20 International against Australia at the Rose Bowl, only hitting six runs off the first two overs as they saw off the bowlers, but Geraint Jones then decided to have fun with Brett Lee. Hitting two boundaries off the next over, Lee was hit for 14, and England moved rapidly to 28 for no loss before Jones cut McGrath to deep third man, where Kasprowicz took a catch on the boundary - out for 19 with four fours. Marcus Trescothick hit a single to end the over, but England were happy enough with 29 for 1 after four overs. Lee's next over was, again, hit for 14, as Lee served up one wide and a no-ball to end with three overs for 31 as singles were taken off every ball. That prompted a bowling change, with Michael Kasprowicz coming on for Australia, and with good reward, as the penultimate ball of his over was caught by Symonds at midwicket - Andrew Flintoff out for 6. Kevin Pietersen managed to scamper a single, and after six overs, England were 50 for 2.

With Jason Gillespie coming on, England continued to take the singles, although the fielding restrictions were off and Australia could stop more of those. However, Michael Clarke at deep backward point handed England three runs in the seventh over with a misfield. Pietersen continued to dominate the Australian bowling, smashing a four and a two off Gillespie, as England took ten runs off the eighth over. Australia looked clueless - a rare sight - as they continued to give runs away through misfields, and Kevin Pietersen smashed his way to 33 not out off 16 balls - after ten overs, England were 93 for 2, and looking to set a massive target.

The Australian captain Ricky Ponting brought on part-time spinner Michael Clarke to bowl the eleventh over, and got immediate success, when Pietersen launched him to Matthew Hayden on the fifth ball, but England were still 101 for 3 after eleven overs. In the next over, the new batsman Michael Vaughan edged Andrew Symonds' ball to midwicket, and the pressure was suddenly on the English. With Trescothick out for 41 a bit later to an attempted sweep off Symonds, England were suddenly looking down a hole after a fine start, and Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood slowed the scoring, to see England 111 for 5 with six overs to play. However, a slog sweep from Collingwood to end the fifteenth over turned the match again, as it went away for six and England moved to 124 for 5. With Jason Gillespie being brought back, Collingwood led the charge, as England stole seventeen runs off the seventeenth over and wrought control of the game again. Despite Andrew Strauss being bowled by Gillespie for 18, Collingwood hit another two boundaries towards the end of the over, to move onto 42 not out and the team score to 167 for 6. Vikram Solanki was out in the next over for 9, caught by Hussey off McGrath, and on the last ball, Collingwood was caught by for 46. Still, England would be pleased with 179 for 8, the highest score on the Rose Bowl in Twenty20 matches.

Australia started shakily, with Adam Gilchrist playing-and-missing and edging one shot over Andrew Strauss at third man, who miscued the path of the ball, as the Australians got eight off the first over bowled by Darren Gough. With Gilchrist finally taking one liberty too many, an easy catch was given, and Kevin Pietersen took it to remove arguably the most dangerous batsman in this format. On the next ball, Hayden was out, caught by Pietersen for 6. Symonds survived the next ball, but odds had improved for England, as the visitors were now 23 for 2. What followed was an Australian collapse - Michael Clarke went for a golden duck to Lewis, a slightly dubious decision, but that gave the English the needed momentum. Within the next four overs, Australia had lost four more wickets for eight runs, Symonds for 0, Hussey for 1, Ponting for 0, Martyn for 4, and despite a recovery from Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, the required run rate ran away to 12 an over from the last eleven overs. Jon Lewis finished his spell with four wickets for 24 - a special international debut, even though it was only in a Twenty20 game. Despite a good recovery and a partnership of 36, Gillespie eventually holed out a catch to Marcus Trescothick off the hero of the match, Paul Collingwood, and England headed even further towards a victory. Eventually, McGrath was bowled by Harmison, ending the innings for 79 all out - exactly the same score that England succumbed to in the fourth innings chase against the Australians in the first Test of the last Ashes.

Somerset v Australians (15 June)

Somerset won by four wickets

Somerset shocked everyone with a nail-biting win over Australia cricket team at Taunton, their first win over the Australians since 1977. Somerset were placed mid-table in the second division of the National League, and no one believed they should have any chance against an Australian team only missing Adam Gilchrist. And Australia backed that up with the bat - Matthew Hayden retired after a fun hit-out for 76, captain Ricky Ponting the same for 80, and Australia tonked 342 for 5.

Graeme Smith and Sanath Jayasuriya, however, fought back for Somerset. The pair opened, and put on 197 for the first wicket in little over 20 overs - Smith smashing his way to a massive 68-ball hundred, ending with 108 with 17 fours and a six. Jayasuriya, not wishing to be worse, made a 77-ball ton - before getting out for 101 a bit later. The platform was set, however, and 24-year-old James Hildreth could steady the ship after Somerset had lost some wickets to part-time bowler Michael Hussey. Hildreth made 38 not out off 24 balls and saw them to a victory with 19 balls and four wickets to spare - more comfortable than the match looked for the most part. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Australia v Bangladesh (18 June)

18 June 2005
Australia 23x15px
249/5 (50 overs)
23x15px Bangladesh
250/5 (49.2 overs)
DR Martyn 77 (112)
Tapash Baisya 3/69 [10]
Mohammad Ashraful 100 (101)
JN Gillespie 2/41 [10]
Bangladesh won by 5 wickets
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and DR Shepherd (Eng)
Player of the match: Mohammad Ashraful (Ban)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to bat.

Perhaps, the biggest upset in the history of One-day cricket, Mashrafe Mortaza shocked the Sophia Gardens crowd when he had Adam Gilchrist plumb on the second ball of the second ODI, taking the first Australian wicket without a run yet on the scoreboard - and it was to set the tone of the match. Most people would have expected Australia to swamp Bangladesh, especially after the 10-wicket defeat the Bangladeshi Tigers endured in the opening match with England, but a maiden from Mortaza gave them some hope, at least. Things looked to be going the right way for Australia when Matthew Hayden took a boundary off Tapash Baisya, but another maiden followed, and in the sixth over Ricky Ponting padded up to Tapash Baisya - resulting in an lbw decision given, and Australia were 9 for 2. Cautious batting from Hayden and Damien Martyn followed, but some expensive bowling from Baisya relinquished the initiative, as Australia recovered. They survived through fifteen overs, Hayden being caught off a no-ball from Tapash, but in the sixteenth, he was bowled by Nazmul Hossain for 37 off an inside edge, just as Hayden were looking to get himself in. Some economical bowling from Mohammad Rafique who bowled ten overs for 31 runs, along with excellent bowling from Mortaza at the death, resulted in Australia finishing on 249 for 5, losing Martyn to Baisya for 77 and Clarke to the same man for 54. In fact, Michael Hussey with 31 not out off 21 balls and Simon Katich with 36 not out off 23 ensured that they got a competitive target.

That was not all, however. The chase began very sedately, only Tushar Imran looking to take runs as he smashed Brad Hogg about, but Hogg got his revenge when Tushar was out for 24, lofting to Katich. Earlier, Nafees Iqbal had gone for 8, and with Javed Omar out as the third man to fall, for 19 off 51 balls, it looked to be business as usual for Bangladesh. But this match had more tricks up its sleeve. Hogg and Clarke leaked runs like a drain, six wides were bowled, and Mohammad Ashraful showed another glimpse of why he's been called Bangladesh's finest batsman. As he made the second ODI hundred in the Bangladesh team's history, he forged a massive 130-run partnership with Habibul Bashar, and had a great two hours at the crease (although dropped on 54) - before picking out Jason Gillespie at long on to be out for exactly 100. Bangladesh still needed 23 runs off 17 balls, but Aftab Ahmed continued his fine form from the Oval match with England, as he first took a leg bye off Ashraful, then gave the strike to Rafique, who smashed a cover driven four before taking another legbye. A four and a dot-ball finished a 10-run over, meaning that Bangladesh now needed only 13 off 12 balls. A good over from McGrath followed, as he conceded only six runs - including an edged four from Rafique. With the last over, Bangladesh needed seven runs, and Ahmed swung the first ball of the over to midwicket for six. Thus, it became a formality - Bangladesh won with four balls and five wickets to spare, almost convincing in today's cricket, and the result meant that the Aussies needed a victory over England at Bristol the following day to have any chance of winning the group stage.

England v Australia (19 June)

19 June 2005
Australia 23x15px
252/9 (50 overs)
23x15px England
253/7 (47.3 overs)
MEK Hussey 84 (83)
SJ Harmison 5/33 [10]
KP Pietersen 91* (65)
GB Hogg 3/42 [10]
England won by 3 wickets
The County Ground, Bristol
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and JW Lloyds (Eng)
Player of the match: KP Pietersen (Eng)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to bat.

Ricky Ponting chose to bat when he won the toss for the visiting Australian cricket team in an extremely tense and see-sawing match at The County Ground, Bristol. It looked like a great decision when Jon Lewis and Darren Gough were smashed about early on, as Australia made their way to 57 for 0 after 11 overs with Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden taking sixes off Lewis over midwicket. However, with the entrance of Steve Harmison, everything changed. In his third over - the twelfth of the game, he removed Gilchrist with a bouncy ball that the batsman edged behind, then Ponting with a yorker that he didn't play at - resulting in lbw - then a dot ball, and then Martyn with a slog shot to Pietersen at third man. Australia tried to consolidate, but when Hayden tried to hit out off Harmison four overs later, Paul Collingwood jumped up to pick the ball out of the air with his right hand - a magnificent catch, and Australia had lost four wickets for six runs, reminiscent of their collapse in the Twenty20 match earlier on in the week.

Australia dug themselves out of the hole, however, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey slowly accumulating to increase the rate. England clearly lacked a fifth-bowler, opting instead for Vikram Solanki to bat down the order, so they used a combination of Michael Vaughan, Solanki and Collingwood to get through their ten required overs. That let Australia off the hook, with Clarke and Hussey adding 105, before Jon Lewis - who had been taken to the cleaners earlier on - dug out Michael Clarke with an inside edge onto the stumps, taking the fifth wicket of the game at just the right time. Shane Watson accumulated well with Hussey, however, hitting six an over as Lewis was smashed about again, but Harmison got his revenge by completing his first five-wicket-haul in ODIs as Hussey was beaten by a slower ball - the first time Hussey had been dismissed in One-day Internationals, for a batting average of 229. Then, Andrew Flintoff was brought back, getting a splendid yorker in for Watson, who was out for 25 just as the Aussies were preparing to hit out - the score 220 for 7 after 44.1 overs. Jason Gillespie and Brad Hogg survived a couple of overs from Flintoff and Harmison - meaning that Harmison finished with five for 33 off ten overs. Towards the end, Australia built up again, before losing Gillespie to a top edge, but 244 for 8 with seven balls remaining still looked difficult for England to chase. Gough dug out Michael Kasprowicz with a yorker with two balls to spare, and four legbyes ended the innings to take Australia to 252 for 9.

England started positively in reply, taking 39 off the first 34 legal deliveries (while Gillespie served up four wides and a no-ball in his first over), but Glenn McGrath took revenge by serving up a good yorker to have Marcus Trescothick bowled for 16. Two overs later, Andrew Strauss went in identical fashion, and Vaughan and Collingwood were forced to consolidate. They did, although in jerky fashion, Collingwood eventually falling to Kasprowicz and Flintoff mistiming a hit off Hogg to see England into a spot of bother at 119 for 4 after 27.2 overs, with Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen at the crease. Edges and runs followed, but when England lost Vaughan and Geraint Jones in quick succession, and were 93 short with only 74 deliveries left, it looked dark for England. Pietersen then upped the ante. Smashing runs to all corners, especially off Gillespie, he reached his fifty off 46 balls, and then took 19 more deliveries to bring up an additional 41 runs - although surviving an extremely close run-out decision near the 40th over. A level headed 7 not out from Lewis - making up somewhat for his bowling - ensured the English were home by three wickets and fifteen deliveries - and the Australians had only managed two points from their first two matches, while England had gained 11.

England v Australia (23 June)

23 June 2005
Australia 23x15px
266/5 (50 overs)
23x15px England
209/9 (50 overs)
A Symonds 73 (81)
A Flintoff 2/55 [10]
D Gough 46 (47)
GB Hogg 2/19 [6]
Australia won by 57 runs
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and MR Benson (Eng)
Player of the match: A Symonds (Aus)
  • England won the toss and elected to field.

Australia squared the ODI series by winning a game where England missed their captain Michael Vaughan due to injury. Marcus Trescothick, the stand-in captain, won the toss and decided to chase at the Riverside Ground, thus giving his own side the task of batting under floodlights. Chris Tremlett who had made an impressive debut against Bangladesh, struggled early on with his line and length, and the Australian openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist punished him for runs. In his fifth over, however, Tremlett got a breakthrough, Gilchrist mistiming a cut and Geraint Jones taking the catch behind. However, Ricky Ponting didn't toss his wicket away early, leaving it to Hayden to hit the runs, and at the end of fifteen overs the Australians were 73 for 1. Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, the change bowlers, kept the pressure up on the batsmen, however, not letting too many runs away even though they bowled the occasional wide, and they could reap the rewards with two quick wickets, Ponting for 27 and Hayden for 39, and people began to remember the last ODI between the sides.

However, this time there was no collapse. Two no-balls from Harmison followed, Andrew Symonds and Damien Martyn defended well, waiting for Harmison and Flintoff to be taken off and saved for the last overs. They were - and Australia were let off the hook. Symonds and Martyn paired up for 142 runs, taking runs off every bowler - even Flintoff and Harmison - and batted together for nearly 25 overs, with a partnership run-rate of nearly 6. The first four overs only yielded 13 runs, but when Harmison was taken off England lost the sting. Symonds was finally run out by the skipper Trescothick for 73, a hopeless attempt at taking a single, and Flintoff dug out Michael Hussey for 5 two overs later. Australia, however, made a highly competitive 266 for 5, and in the seaming conditions one would expect it to be enough.

As it turned out, it was. Brett Lee, opening the bowling for Australia, started off with a maiden over to Trescothick, and England struggled to get off the mark, being four for no wicket after three overs. Another maiden from Glenn McGrath followed, and then Andrew Strauss departed with an inside edge off Lee. In the next over, Trescothick was gone for a 15-ball duck, to an away-swinger from McGrath, and two balls later Paul Collingwood gave a massive inside-edge onto his stumps - England were six for three, and staring down the barrel.

A rescue operation from Andrew Flintoff and Vikram Solanki followed, pairing up for 79 before Solanki was caught at midwicket off Brad Hogg. Then, Flintoff was nearly stumped off Hogg's bowling, only to give a catch at long on later on in the over for 44. With England at 94 for 5, they needed seven and a half runs an over, with Kevin Pietersen and Geraint Jones at the crease. However, even Pietersen couldn't save them this time, as he was caught in the deep off Symonds for 19, and the rest of the match just became a task to bat out 50 overs. Thanks to Darren Gough, who made 46 not out (ironically, the top score of the innings), and a level-headed 11 not out from Steve Harmison, England made that, but lost by 57 runs - thus also losing the bonus point.

Australia v Bangladesh (25 June)

25 June 2005
Bangladesh 23x15px
139 (35.2 overs)
23x15px Australia
140/0 (19 overs)
Mohammad Ashraful 58 (86)
A Symonds 5/18 [7.2]
ML Hayden 66* (54)
AC Gilchrist 66* (60)
Australia won by 10 wickets
Old Trafford, Manchester
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and JW Lloyds (Eng)
Player of the match: A Symonds (Aus)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to field.

Australia recorded a thumping 10-wicket win over Bangladesh to level their head-to-head record in the NatWest Series to 1–1. Under leaden skies at Old Trafford, Ricky Ponting made the wise decision and chose to bowl, and short-balls from Brett Lee immediately had the Bangladeshis worried. They survived six overs without loss before Javed Omar was trapped by an in-swinger for a 20-ball 3. Tushar Imran was next to fall to Lee, and many expected a procession to begin, but Shahriar Nafees and Mohammad Ashraful gave the crowd a treat with some special strokes. Ashraful had two top-edged sixes, as Lee was dispatched for 20 runs in the eleventh over. By the drinks break after 15 overs, Bangladesh were 76 for 2, having added 53 from the last 39 balls. Ponting, however, brought on the spinners Brad Hogg and Andrew Symonds, who both got a fair amount of turn out of the Old Trafford pitch, and Symonds had Shahriar bowled for 47 with a yorker that he played late to. The next ball, he got the out-of-form captain Habibul Bashar, and the wickets began to tumble quickly. Symonds got five wickets for 18 runs, Hogg three for 29, Bangladesh collapsed from 137 for 6 (when Khaled Mashud was bowled by Hogg) to 139 all out in three overs, as Ashraful went for 58 and no one else really offering any resistance to the slow Australian bowlers.

Bangladesh had Adam Gilchrist in some trouble early on, especially through fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, who had him beaten several times in the opening overs, but Matthew Hayden was imposing at the crease, punishing the inevitable bad balls from Nazmul Hossain who was taken off after three overs, having conceded 29 runs. However, no one could stop the rot, Hayden and Gilchrist taking runs at will after a while to see Australia to the target inside 20 overs. Australia thus closed the gap to England to three points, as the situation indicated by the ICC rankings before the series became more and more possible - that Bangladesh were to be whipping boys and England and Australia would go through.

England v Australia (28 June)

28 June 2005
Australia 23x15px
261/9 (50 overs)
23x15px England
37/1 (6 overs)
A Symonds 74 (75)
D Gough 3/70 [9]
AJ Strauss 25 (18)
GD McGrath 1/24 [3]
No result
Edgbaston, Birmingham
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and DR Shepherd (Eng)
Player of the match: Not awarded
  • Australia won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Rain interrupted England's innings after three overs, and then again after six, resulting in an abandoned match

The eighth match of the NatWest Series eventually became an anti-climax, but for large parts of the match it wasn't - despite the fact that both teams had qualified for the final before the last game. Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to send his openers in - and they took advantage. Darren Gough was innocuous, conceding 23 runs in his first two overs, prompting a bowling change in the fifth over, sending Steve Harmison on. Meanwhile Simon Jones got some swing with the new ball - and, yet again in this series, Adam Gilchrist was caught behind off a swing bowler, out for 19. Shortly afterwards, Jones tried to throw the ball back at the wicketkeeper as Matthew Hayden pushed it back to him, but Jones hit Hayden with the balls, and a few words were exchanged - Paul Collingwood joining in the fray as well.

However, the match got on, Jones and Harmison putting on the pressure and eventually having Hayden lbw on 14 - after he had failed to score from the last eleven deliveries. Damien Martyn then faced five dot-balls, and Jones served up a wicket maiden, and Australia were at 46 for 2 at the end of the tenth over. However, that was as good as it got for England. Andrew Flintoff dug out skipper Ricky Ponting for 34, but it mattered little, as Martyn and Andrew Symonds took advantage of the bowling. Michael Vaughan tried to put himself on, but Symonds smashed him over midwicket for six - the first of the match, displaying the despair. With some no-balls from Gough, and Simon Jones getting smashed early on, Australia were 220 for 4 after 42 overs, and looked on course for 300. However, the run-out of Symonds for 74 changed the course of the innings. Michael Clarke departed for three, a good catch by Geraint Jones behind the stumps, and Harmison then served up a wicket-maiden in the 46th over, of all things. With Brad Hogg and Jason Gillespie giving soft catches to Gough, that redeemed his figures somewhat, but he still conceded 70 runs. The last over from Flintoff was very good, however, conceding only three runs with yorkers directed at the feet of the batsmen, and Australia had to be content with 261 for 9.

England's chase was interrupted once by rain, after three overs, when they were eight for 0, but coming back they were set 200 to win in 33 overs. That was never possible - rain started again after three more overs - and when Andrew Strauss fell the umpires decided that play was no longer possible, and a no-result was declared.

Australia v Bangladesh (30 June)

30 June 2005
Bangladesh 23x15px
250/8 (50 overs)
23x15px Australia
254/4 (48.1 overs)
Shahriar Nafees 75 (116)
SR Watson 3/43 [10]
MJ Clarke 80* (104)
Mashrafe Mortaza 2/44 [9]
Australia won by 6 wickets
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and JW Lloyds (Eng)
Player of the match: Shahriar Nafees (Ban)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to field.

The last game of the round robin of the NatWest Series was, as expected, won by the Australians. However, it summed up the improvement Bangladesh had made over the tour of England. In the first international, they were rolled over meekly by a no-balling, rusty English side - twice. In the last, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie put the pressure on early, and with the aid of Shane Watson had them on the reels with 75 for 5. Yet, Bangladesh recovered to post 250 for 8, and were theoretically in with a chance for most of the game. Yet, they started very, very shakily. Javed Omar was dropped by Matthew Hayden in the third over, only to be out to Jason Gillespie in the next for an eight-ball duck - a disappointing end to a fine series for the Bangladeshi. Brett Lee had both Tushar Imran and Mohammad Ashraful beaten with full deliveries, Bangladesh were 19 for three wickets down - an all too familiar position.

A quickfire 30 from captain Habibul Bashar helped to take away some of the jitters, as Bashar took 16 runs off a Brett Lee over, but a bouncer from Shane Watson wasn't successfully evaded, and Adam Gilchrist could take the catch. Aftab Ahmed had to settle for 7, and it was down to the last two recognised batsmen - Shahriar Nafees, who had quietly moved his way to 25 not out, and wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud. However, the two put on a nigh-on faultless partnership of 94, taking their time to consolidate. Shahriar eventually departed for 75, edging a short ball from Shane Watson to the wicket-keeper - the usual method of dismissal. However, their partnership had given Bangladesh hope, and Mohammad Rafique took advantage with a six off Watson. Despite two more wickets falling - Rafique and Khaled Mahmud (caught at mid-on on the last ball) - Bangladesh had recovered to 250 for 8, which could potentially be tricky to chase.

Mashrafe Mortaza was hit around for twelve in the first over, however, and the momentum swung towards Australia. Mortaza hit back by inducing an outside edge from Matthew Hayden to wicketkeeper Mashud for 1, and four balls later a ball from Mortaza hit captain Ricky Ponting on the pads - but too high to be given out. Gilchrist and Ponting paired up well, however, even though Gilchrist rode his luck with a few drives in the air, but in the tenth over he gave a somewhat dubious catch to slip Khaled Mahmud, and was gone for 45 - all while rain threatened to damage the match. However, the weather gradually improved, along with Australia's chances - after fifteen overs, they were 83 for three, having lost Damien Martyn for 9, but only needed slightly less than five an over. However, economical bowling and riskless batting from Australia saw Bangladesh in with a chance again. Ponting and Michael Clarke let the run rate go to more than six an over, but Khaled Mahmud's bowling at the death to Andrew Symonds left a bit to be desired, as Australia could take the necessary runs and win by eleven balls and six wickets to spare. Interestingly, a Bangladeshi - Shahriar Nafees - got the Man of the Match award, possibly for his effort to keep the match exciting after Bangladesh had crumbled to 75 for 5.

England v Australia (2 July)

2 July 2005
Australia 23x15px
196 (48.5 overs)
23x15px England
196/9 (50 overs)
MEK Hussey 62* (81)
A Flintoff 3/23 [8]
GO Jones 71 (100)
GD McGrath 3/25 [10]
Match tied
Lord's, London
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and DR Shepherd (Eng)
Player of the match: GO Jones (Eng)
  • England won the toss and elected to field.

The final of the NatWest Series ended in an anticlimax for the visitors, but throughout it gave entertainment to the crowd - despite being a relatively low-scoring game. It didn't look to be low-scoring early on, though, as Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden punished the England opening bowlers Darren Gough and Simon Jones to be 50 for 0 after 6.3 overs. Two balls later, Hayden went for one expansive stroke too many - driving to Ashley Giles at mid-off for 17. England captain Michael Vaughan brought his change bowlers on, first Andrew Flintoff for Jones (who had been taken for 29 runs in his first three overs) and then the big man from Ashington, Steve Harmison.

Those changes turned the match on its head. Instead of the Australian batsmen taking easy runs off the English bowlers, the English bowlers now tied down the batting, getting rewards in the form of wickets. Gilchrist gave a catch to Kevin Pietersen at short leg for 27, and when Harmison was brought on a couple of overs later, he immediately got a wicket - of Ricky Ponting for 7, and Australia were 71 for 3 after 12.1 overs. Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds decided to retreat into their shell, as the English bowling turned from difficult to nigh-on unhittable, Flintoff getting a touch on the off-stump of Symonds, but the bail didn't fall off, so he survived. However, the pair could only add 19 from 35 deliveries, before Harmison had Martyn caught behind with a ball that moved away from the batsman, off the waiting edge and into Geraint Jones' gloves.

Following the dismissal of Martyn, Vaughan brought back Jones - realising that Australia were reluctant to hit runs and thus allowing Jones to get through his overs without causing as much damage as he did early on. In fact, he and Harmison were part of a remarkable streak - they served up 28 successive dot-balls to Symonds and Michael Clarke (who bowed under to the pressure and was hit on the pad, out lbw for a 19-ball two). However, Michael Hussey - facing his first ball at 93 for 5 after 25 overs - took control of Jones, and when Harmison was taken off, Australia were let off the hook.

Symonds and Hussey batted out 15 overs, but Symonds struggled to hit runs and eventually smashed a drive to Andrew Strauss, who took a grateful catch, thus ending Symonds' innings for 29 - off 71 balls, a good innings in Test cricket but in ODI cricket virtually useless. Michael Vaughan then used a strange bowling change, keeping spinner Ashley Giles on for an over more than required and thus borrowing one from Andrew Flintoff who wasn't allowed to bowl a full ten. In the event, it mattered little. Flintoff had ample time to rip out Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, and, with Harmison taking care of Brad Hogg and Glenn McGrath committing batting suicide with a shot not exactly out of the textbook, Australia were all out for 196 - and England were comfortably in the drivers' seat.

That was before they got in to bat, however. England survived the first three overs, bowled by McGrath and Lee, without loss. From then on, however, the English lost wickets by the bucketful. England went from 11 for 0 to 19 for 4 in the space of four overs, as the bowlers put the pressure on immediately, and their entire top-order came and went for single-figure scores. Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff survived for a couple more overs, before Flintoff edged McGrath to slip - the score 33 for 5, and England should see themselves lucky to bat out 50 overs - or even score 100 runs. Collingwood and Geraint Jones decided to wait, giving McGrath maiden overs (as he finished his first bowling spell with figures of 7-4-9-3), and despite the batsmen being rapped on the pads, they survived, even taking the occasional six off Jason Gillespie.

After 25 overs, England were 65 for 5, but the Australian spinners didn't get too much out of the track. Dot-balls flourished, but the partnership kept in there, and a second six - from Jones off Hogg - showed their intent. After thirty-five overs, England were 113 for 5, and required a run a ball, with four overs of Lee and three of McGrath still to negotiate. However, England kept pushing, never letting the run-rate get above 7. Skipper Ponting showed some desperation when he brought Michael Hussey on with nine overs to spare, knowing that the spinners couldn't keep it tight, but got his reward in Hussey's second over when Collingwood was run out for 53 - off 116 balls.

Then Geraint Jones smacked two fours off Hussey to end the over, meaning that England needed 39 off 36 balls. Five balls later, a miscued sweep off Hogg hit Geraint Jones on the pads - gone for 71 - and England only had three wickets to spare. Two more balls were delivered before that tally was cut down to two - Hussey bowled Simon Jones for a two-ball one, so with Gough and Giles in, England needed 35 off 29 balls. Despite taking the runs off Hussey, Brett Lee's 47th over only yielded a single, as his variations of length turned out to be just the thing. However, Ponting now needed another over from either Hussey, Hogg or Symonds - deciding to use Hussey, he was punished, as Giles hit twos to both the off and leg side, and a wide from Hussey resulting in a nine-run over. Lee then came back on, and with his short ball had Giles playing a definitely unorthodox stroke - a sliced edge over Gilchrist's head for four.

Singles were taken to end the over, but McGrath was to bowl the last over of the game, with England still needing ten to win. Things got easier for England when McGrath overstepped with the first ball of the over, Gough making contact and running the single to cut the target by two - the no-ball for overstepping and the run single - and the no-ball meant McGrath still had to bowl six balls in the over. Giles then played and missed, before hitting a single, and then Gough drove the two next balls to cover for two. Suddenly, England only needed three off two - and were, incredibly, in a winning position again. But Gough's next shot was right back to McGrath, who took it up well and tossed it at the stumps, running out Gough and meaning that McGrath would bowl to Ashley Giles - and England still required three to win. The ball hit Giles' pads, ran away down the off side, and Giles and Harmison ran all they could to scamper two leg-byes - and tie the game.

England v Australia (7 July)

7 July 2005
Australia 23x15px
219/7 (50 overs)
23x15px England
221/1 (46 overs)
MEK Hussey 46* (52)
PD Collingwood 4/34 [10]
ME Trescothick 104* (134)
GB Hogg 1/30 [6]
England won by 9 wickets
Headingley, Leeds
Umpires: MR Benson (Eng) and RE Koertzen (SA)
Player of the match: ME Trescothick (Eng)
  • England won the toss and elected to field.

England were lucky to win the toss and get a chance to bowl under cloudy skies at Headingley, as they beat Australia by nine wickets to take their second victory in five ODIs so far. Putting Australia in to bat, they didn't get immediate reward - as especially Darren Gough was smashed about by Adam Gilchrist, but the run rate at least stayed around four an over. And with Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff removing the openers in successive overs, things looked brighter for the English. Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn added 39 for the next wicket, but in 11 overs, all while the English captain Michael Vaughan set attacking fields according to the new power play rules.

England all-rounder Paul Collingwood came on as third-change bowler, and used the helpful conditions to incite Ponting's demise, as Kevin Pietersen held a catch to dismiss the Australian captain for 14, and Collingwood continued to end with four wickets for 34 runs, as Australia slumped from 107 for 2 to 159 for 6 - all wickets courtesy of Collingwood. However, Michael Hussey showed his skills from number seven yet again, as he made a 52-ball 46 - while the ball was still moving around due to the cloud cover - and lifted Australia to 219 for 7.

The English reply was initially jittery. The pace of Brett Lee and accuracy of Glenn McGrath shook the English opening batsmen Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss. Trescothick, for example, was caught off a no-ball from Lee, but survived, as the openers lasted nearly 25 overs - before Strauss was caught behind off Brad Hogg for 41. By that time, however, the sun had come out, the ball didn't swing much in the air, and as Lee kept on bowling no-balls - seven in total - things simply wouldn't work out for Australia. Trescothick used 132 balls to bring up his century, skipper Michael Vaughan made a healthy contribution with 59 not out, and England brought up the winning total with four overs to spare.

England v Australia (10 July)

10 July 2005
England 23x15px
223/8 (50 overs)
23x15px Australia
224/3 (44.2 overs)
A Flintoff 87 (112)
B Lee 5/41 [10]
RT Ponting 111 (115)
AF Giles 1/38 [10]
Australia won by 7 wickets
Lord's, London
Umpires: RE Koertzen (SA) and JW Lloyds (Eng)
Player of the match: B Lee (Aus)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to field.

Ricky Ponting, Australia's captain, had so far had a difficult series against the English. In five innings this summer, his highest score was 34, in the no-result at Edgbaston, and his batting average was a meagre 16.40. However, on a Lord's track that suited the batsmen, he was back into his old magnificent form, guiding Australia back on track to victory, and levelling the NatWest Challenge.

It started well for Australia, too. Including Michael Kasprowicz in the squad and gambling on winning the toss and subbing one of their bowlers off, they won it - and Kasprowicz got immediate reward. After the English openers had survived the opening overs of McGrath and Lee to be 25 for 0 after eight overs, Kasprowicz was brought on, and Strauss chopped an inside edge onto his own stumps. Nine balls and three runs later, captain Michael Vaughan was hit on the pads by an inswinging delivery from Glenn McGrath and was out for 1. Marcus Trescothick and Kevin Pietersen soon followed to the pavilion, and England were - yet again - staring down the barrel at 45 for 4.

However, England weren't undone that easily. Waiting for Jason Gillespie, who had been conceding many runs all series, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood paired up for a calm 103 in a little over 20 overs, before Collingwood became Brett Lee's second victim of the day, luring Collingwood to attempt a cut shot off a fast, short ball and edging to keeper Adam Gilchrist. England's resistance didn't end, however, and despite Lee ripping out wickets - ending with five for 41 - the lower-order combined, eking out 30 from the last 21 balls to lift England to a somewhat defensible total of 223 for 8.

And, when Andrew Flintoff was brought on as the fourth bowler to be used in six overs, and removed Gilchrist with his second ball of the day, things looked hopeful for England, but that was as good as it ever got. Ricky Ponting smashed fourteen fours and a six on his way to 111, making a century off 105 balls, Michael Vaughan was forced to wait with the power play overs, Simon Katich, Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds played well-paced innings, and England found themselves unable to contain the Australians. The end was always in sight, eventually coming with 34 balls remaining, Darren Gough bowling a no-ball - his third of the day - to gift the game to Australia. It was symptomatic of Gough's poor series, and indeed, he had Gilchrist bowled off a no-ball in the very first over. His bowling analysis for the game read 6.2-0-43-1.

England v Australia (12 July)

12 July 2005
England 23x15px
228/7 (50 overs)
23x15px Australia
229/2 (34.5 overs)
KP Pietersen 74 (84)
JN Gillespie 3/44 [10]
AC Gilchrist 121* (101)
D Gough 1/37 [4]
Australia won by 8 wickets
The Oval, London
Umpires: RE Koertzen (SA) and DR Shepherd (Eng)
Player of the match: AC Gilchrist (Aus)
Man of the Series: RT Ponting (Aus)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to field.

This match was eerily similar to the one two days earlier – except that Jason Gillespie actually got rewards with the ball, and the batsman to play himself into form was Adam Gilchrist – however, both England and Australia picked batsmen as their supersubs, just like on 10 July. Australia won the toss, chose to field to gain an extra batsman, and had England on the rack.

The game was won in the first few overs. The pitch, as Surrey and Hampshire showed in a game played three days later, had a par score well in excess of 300. However, Glenn McGrath's first four overs were maidens, and his fifth over only failed to be because Jason Gillespie dropped a skier, much to the amusement of the crowd. With Brett Lee bowling well and picking up the early wicket of Marcus Trescothick for a duck, England were well behind on the run rate from the start.

They never recovered. Despite another skier being dropped, this time by Adam Gilchrist, and the crowd enjoying Gillespie dropping more catches whilst practising in the field, Australia's dominance and fine fielding on the ground saw more England wickets fall. In 27.5 overs, they only mustered 93 runs – for the loss of six wickets, with Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones all out. A desperate situation meant England had to use their substitute, putting on Vikram Solanki for bowler Simon Jones – and Solanki helped save England to some respectability, along with Kevin Pietersen. Solanki made an unbeaten 53 and Pietersen 74 as England posted 228 for 7.

On a flat, unresponsive pitch, England's bowlers (now without the subbed-off Jones) were helpless. Gilchrist smashed an 81-ball ton, with an array of shots all around the ground, and eventually ended on 121 not out. Three of the English bowlers conceded more than six an over – Steve Harmison, with 81 runs off 9.5 overs, Darren Gough, with 37 off four, and Ashley Giles with 64 off ten. The two wickets the English got – Matthew Hayden caught behind for 31 and Ricky Ponting stumped for 44 – were largely pointless.

In all, it was a comprehensive victory for Australia, probably one of their easiest on the entire tour – possibly excluding the 19-over demolition of Bangladesh in game six of the group stage, with the biggest excitement being when the officials and players were presented to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in the break. The Duke was at the ground to officially open the new OCS stand at the Oval. He took the opportunity to lead the tributes to umpire David Shepherd, on his retirement from international umpiring. Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major and current Australian Prime Minister John Howard also sent tributes to Shepherd.

Scotland v Australians (18 August)

Match abandoned without a ball bowled

A capacity crowd of 4,500 was at The Grange in Edinburgh to watch the local heroes of the Scottish cricket team face off with the world's highest ranked team, Australia. The game was to be a highlight of the Scottish season, with the ground authorities reporting that they could have sold the tickets three times over. The BBC had won the rights to broadcast the match in Scotland, making it the first cricket match to be broadcast on the BBC since 1999.

However, rain poured down steadily, although a buoyant crowd still queued to enter the ground. This weather first cut the match down to 20 overs and later started again to prevent any play whatsoever. Although Cricket Scotland had insured against rain to alleviate pecuniary disadvantage, the lack of a match represented a lost opportunity to help develop the game north of the English border. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Two-innings games

Leicestershire v Australians (15–17 July)

Match drawn

Australia were having difficulty choosing between an out-of-form Jason Gillespie (8 wickets at a bowling average of 50.37 in the ODIs) and an almost equally out-of-form Michael Kasprowicz (7 wickets at 34.29), and thus this match with Leicestershire was a fight between the two to keep the place in the Test team. But the two almost exclusively failed to take wickets, with only Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill taking more than two for the match. Lee opened the game by removing Darren Robinson lbw for a golden duck, and Leicestershire eventually subsided for 217 - Australian Chris Rogers top-scoring with 56, Lee taking four for 53. Australia then amassed 582 for 7 over the next day and a half, Justin Langer (115), Ricky Ponting (119) and Damien Martyn with an unbeaten 154 all making centuries. However, it was Rogers who was to make the highest score of the match, as he added with Robinson for 247 for the first wicket - and went on to make a career highest score of 209, right in front of the Australian selectors. When the fifth Leicestershire wicket fell with the Leicestershire score on 363, both teams agreed to a draw. (Cricinfo scorecard)

First Test: England v Australia (21–24 July)

21 – 25 July
190 (40.2 overs)
JL Langer 40 (44)
SJ Harmison 5/43 [11.2]
155 (48.1 overs)
KP Pietersen 57 (89)
GD McGrath 5/53 [18]
384 (100.4 overs)
MJ Clarke 91 (106)
SJ Harmison 3/54 [27.4]
180 (58.1 overs)
KP Pietersen 64* (79)
GD McGrath 4/29 [17.1]
Australia won by 239 runs
Lord's, London
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and RE Koertzen (SA)
Player of the match: GD McGrath (Aus)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Rain on Day 4 prevented play until 15:45.

Day One

File:2005 Ashes, 1st Test, Australian run-rate, 1st innings.gif
Australian run rate from the first innings.
File:2005 Ashes, 1st Test, England run-rate, 1st innings.png
English run rate from the first innings.

A low-scoring first day of cricket at Lord's included two batting collapses, first from Australia and then from England who got their go at batting just before tea. Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, and after Steve Harmison had shaken up the opening batsmen early on, hitting Australia's batsmen with bouncers, in particular one that had Justin Langer on the elbow, a procession of wickets began. Matthew Hoggard was inaccurate, but the early swing under the cloud suited him, and the ball that he did get on line swung between bat and pad to smash into Matthew Hayden's off stump. Australia still scored quickly, helped by aggressive field placings from England, but Harmison got the reward for short and pacy bowling when Ricky Ponting edged him to Andrew Strauss at third slip for 9. Langer, who had looked immaculate all morning and taken on the bowlers, was next to depart, Michael Vaughan getting reward with his bowling changes as Andrew Flintoff lured Langer into an expansive pull to Harmison at square-leg. And when Simon Jones was brought on in the sixteenth over, he got an immediate reward, with Damien Martyn gone for 2. Another man came and went before lunch, Michael Clarke, and Australia were five down after the first session of play.

Adam Gilchrist, Simon Katich and Shane Warne all played a part in getting Australia past 100, with their scores in the 20s, but Harmison - coming back for a second spell - wrapped them up with variations in length along with his ever-reliant pace. He finished with five for 43, allowing Glenn McGrath to be stranded on 10 not out, and McGrath was to take centre stage when England batted. They survived six overs until tea, scoring ten runs, but McGrath, who bowled his usual accurate line and length and got the odd ball to move, reaped massive rewards. Marcus Trescothick fell first ball after tea, edging to slip, and Strauss fell in similar fashion three balls later. Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell were shaken up, but survived six overs - before McGrath started the torture again. They were both bowled, as was Andrew Flintoff, and England had lost five wickets for 21 runs, with five of their front line batsmen out in single figures. However, Kevin Pietersen and Geraint Jones gave England a glimmer of hope, pairing up for 58 before Brett Lee's reverse-swing with the old ball induced a backward edge off Jones' bat to Adam Gilchrist. Ashley Giles hit two quick boundaries, but a short pacy ball from Lee undid him, and England were 92 for 7 overnight - needing 98 for the last three wickets to get level with Australia.

Day Two

England's difficulties continued in the morning. Despite McGrath not getting nearly as much swing, Hoggard departed for an eight-ball duck, cutting a delivery from Shane Warne to Hayden in the slips. Throwing caution to the wind, Pietersen launched himself into his natural game, taking twenty-one runs off seven deliveries before finally being out caught by Damien Martyn, a splendid catch just metres off the ropes, as England looked to subside for 130. However, in yet another twist, Simon Jones and Harmison fought back with some streaky accumulation, pairing up for 33 - the fifth-highest partnership of the game thus far - to reduce Australia's lead to 35 runs. England also got a good start fielding, Pietersen having a flat throw at the stumps to run out Langer for 6, but Hayden and Ricky Ponting rebuilt well.

In fact, the entire top order apart from Langer batted to high scores, but Clarke needed an extra life to do it. Pietersen dropped him on 21, with the Australian score 139 for 3, and instead of England getting the vital breakthrough Clarke and Martyn ran away with it, hitting 155 in 34.3 overs. Flintoff was smashed to all corners, and his figures read for 84 runs in nineteen overs, but England fought back late in the day - in the frantic last ten overs, started by an inside-edge from Clarke off Hoggard, Australia lost four wickets for 24 runs. However, Australia had gained a lead of 314 runs by the end of the second day, and still had Katich there on 10.

Day Three

Four overs into the morning, Ashley Giles returned what could arguably be said to be his most useful contribution of the match, having Brett Lee run out for 8. However, the always defensive Jason Gillespie proved too difficult to get out for England, Harmison menacing him with bouncers and yorkers but not managing it, and it was the quietly toiling Jones who finally got his reward with an away-swinger that crashed into Gillespie's off-stump - after having a number of catches dropped, one especially simple one by namesake Geraint. Glenn McGrath and Katich continued with a partnership of 43, as England was set what would be a world record 420 to win.

They started positively, riding their luck and good favour with the umpires - a number of lbw appeals were turned down both before and after tea - as Strauss and Trescothick paired up for 80 for the first wicket before Strauss edged a classic pace-man's short-ball from Lee back into the bowler's waiting hands. Vaughan got nicely off the mark with a four with his second ball, however, suggesting that England would be playing positively to get the target - but Lee and Warne just kept pounding. Trescothick departed for 44, edging a straight ball from Warne to first slip - having taken him for ten in the previous over - and Bell was left hopelessly plumb to a ball that didn't turn. When Vaughan - who had failed to buy a run off the last 23 deliveries - was bowled comprehensively by Lee, there was nowhere to hide for England, and not even an unbeaten 42 from Pietersen to see England to stumps could hide the inevitable - that England needed 301 for the last five wickets, with a world-class bowling attack at the other end.

Day Four

Rain frustrated both Australia and neutral fans on the morning of the fourth day, but after four hours the sun finally broke through and the covers were taken off. It only 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 all gone for ducks - as England could only add 24 runs, 22 of them from Pietersen who was left stranded on an unbeaten 64 to have a Test batting average of 121 after the first match.

Worcestershire v Australians (30 July-1 August)

Match drawn

The first day only allowed one over of play, after Vikram Solanki sent Australia in to bat and Justin Langer hit a four off Kabir Ali. On the second day, Langer and Matthew Hayden accumulated 110 for the first wicket, and runs just kept flowing as the Australians made 402 in a day - Brad Haddin top-scoring with 94, Jason Gillespie making an unbeaten 53 including two sixes, while Nadeem Malik got the best bowling figures three wickets for 78. Ali, meanwhile, was punished, to end with 124 conceded runs in 20 overs.

Worcestershire got off to a good start on the final day, Stephen Moore and Solanki making 85 for the fourth wicket after Jason Gillespie shook the top order early on. However, Michael Kasprowicz took four quick wickets as Worcestershire imploded from 133 for 3 to 151 for 9, while a bit of late order slogging from James Pipe and Malik sent the score to 187. Malik was last out, caught and bowled by Kasprowicz to complete the Australian's five-wicket-haul and mark the end of the Worcestershire innings. Australian captain Ricky Ponting opted for batting practice, and the Australians made 168 for 2 before stumps, Ponting scoring an unbeaten 59 while Michael Clarke, who was promoted to opener, also repaired a first-innings failure, making 59 off 55 balls before being run out. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Second Test: England v Australia (4–7 August)

4 – 8 August
407 (79.2 overs)
ME Trescothick 90 (102)
SK Warne 4/116 [25.2]
308 (76 overs)
JL Langer 82 (154)
A Flintoff 3/52 [15]
182 (52.1 overs)
A Flintoff 73 (86)
SK Warne 6/46 [23.1]
279 (64.3 overs)
B Lee 43* (75)
A Flintoff 4/79 [22]
England won by 2 runs
Edgbaston, Birmingham
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and RE Koertzen (SA)
Player of the match: A Flintoff (Eng)
  • Australia won the toss and elected to field.

Day One

The psychological battles before the match saw Australia planting many stories in the press about England already being in trouble. 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. England's mind games paid dividends when Ricky Ponting did just that, as Michael Vaughan admitted that if he had won the toss, he'd have batted, and as the match progressed, it became clearer and clearer that the pitch would take plenty of turn near the end.

England took advantage of being inserted and came back strongly, especially considering the 239-run drubbing they had received at Lord's a couple of weeks earlier. The Australian bowlers were smashed to all corners on the first day as, for the first time in their 493-Test history, Australia conceded more than 400 runs in a first day of Test cricket. The English mentality seemed to be to attack from the outset, and it was 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 on a pitch where inaccurate bowling was immediately punished, McGrath's line and length would surely have been useful.

Instead, Marcus Trescothick made innumerable smashes off Brett Lee to the cover boundary. Andrew Strauss preferred Jason Gillespie for his runs, and their 112-run opening partnership was the highest by England in the Ashes series so far this year - indeed, the second highest of the series thus far, only beaten by Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke's 155 at Lord's. They continued on their fine form from Lord's, where they had made 80 in the second innings, and the jitters from the one-day series seemed to have vanished with McGrath. Admittedly, Trescothick was caught off a no-ball on 32, but few remembered that as he crafted his way to 90 - being second out shortly after lunch, with the score 164 for 2, after only 32.3 overs.

England lost both Ian Bell, who continued his relatively poor Ashes series with his third successive single-figure score, and Michael Vaughan, who pulled a short Gillespie delivery to the hands of Lee, in the space of the next five overs, but still pounded on. Kevin Pietersen, in his second Test match, hit ten fours and one six, and forged a 103-run partnership in 105 balls with Andrew Flintoff, which turned the match back to England's favour. Flintoff's 68 was scored quickly, including five sixes, and again Lee got the most stick - he was taken for 26 in the 18 balls he faced.

Lee did get one wicket, though, and Australia could have been forgiven for thinking it was the most important. Pietersen pulled to Simon Katich for 71, off just 76 balls, and with the score on 342 for 7, England would have to get something extraordinary out of the tail to get past 400. But they did - Steve Harmison smacked two fours and a six in an entertaining, if brief, 17, and Simon Jones stuck around with Matthew Hoggard for a vital last-wicket partnership of 32, Jones making 19 not out. Shane Warne finally got the better of Hoggard, but England had made 407, in just under 80 overs. The Australian openers took to the field for the last half-hour of the day. However, heavy rain prevented another ball being bowled on the first day.

Day Two

However, the quick scoring and the first Test result led many people to believe that Australia would come back with a vengeance on the second day of the matcht. Instead, 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 career. The dismissal was to set the tone of the innings. Although Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer hit runs just as quickly as England had done, the umpire's finger went up twice more before lunch - Ricky Ponting swept to the opposing captain Vaughan for 61, and Damien Martyn was run out taking a risky single for 20. Once again, Vaughan was in the action, hitting the stumps with a throw from mid-off. Langer and Michael Clarke continued after lunch in the same vein, but again, a couple of quick wickets - Clarke edging a quicker ball from Ashley Giles behind and Simon Katich falling in the same way to Andrew Flintoff swung it England's way. At 208 for 5, the Australians were struggling, but another good partnership between Langer and Gilchrist saw them to tea with no further loss.

The pair looked to close England's lead, but again the England bowlers intervened - this time in the shape of the invisible man in England's attack, Simon Jones, who got plenty of reverse swing 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 tail - thought to be strengthened by the absence of McGrath, were all dismissed for single-figure scores, Andrew Flintoff taking the two last men lbw with the two last balls, although there was some argument about the first dismissal.

However, England got their 99-run lead and continued to hack away at the Australian bowlers before stumps. After Trescothick and Strauss had smashed boundaries at will against the seamers, Ponting brought on Warne in the seventh over, and Warne broke through with his second ball of the match - a leg break that 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 was just as exhilarating to spectators as the first two; a total of seventeen wickets fell as Shane Warne and Andrew Flintoff took centre stage in an enthralling contest. First up, however, it was Brett Lee, who shattered England with three quick wickets - Trescothick slashed at a wide delivery, skipper Vaughan disappointed yet again with the bat as he failed to cover his stumps to a straight one, and Hoggard naturally had to go eventually - edging to Hayden in the slips for 1.

England were shaken, with the score at 31 for 4, and with Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen at the crease. Pietersen could consider himself lucky to survive, after a suggestion he had been caught first ball. He survived, and went on to make 20, only to be given out off a similar situation from Shane Warne. His 41-run partnership with Bell steadied things somewhat, and there were hopes among England fans that Bell would make his first significant score against the tourists. Instead, he fell two overs after Pietersen, having given the tiniest of edges to Gilchrist for 21.

So, with the score at 75 for 6, England once again needed a big partnership, this time from Flintoff and wicket-keeper Geraint Jones. The pair saw England to lunch, but Flintoff had suffered a shoulder injury and looked in obvious pain. In the first over after lunch, Jones gave an edge to Ponting - seven down for 101. Giles batted responsibly, padding up to Warne, but eventually felt the need to play at one, which Hayden held with relative ease. Harmison came and went, facing one delivery, and it was all up to Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff to see England to a challenging target.

That they did. Jones kept his head, managing 12 runs in his 42-minute stay at the crease with some streaky fours, while Flintoff smacked Lee everywhere. Flintoff also took runs off Kasprowicz, with one 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, something rarely seen in cricket. One six hit by Flintoff landed on top of the stands. Flintoff ended with 73 - the only man to pass 25 for England - before being bowled by Warne. Warne finished with stunning 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.

Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer started positively, taking runs off the occasional bad balls that were served up by Harmison, Hoggard and Giles, and before anyone noticed, they had racked up 47 for no loss, and were well on the way to chasing the target of 282. Then, Flintoff came in to bowl his first over. The ball was hurled down the pitch, and swung enough to deceive the Australian batsmen - Flintoff got Langer and Ponting out in the same over, and Australia were struggling again, the score on 48 for 2.

A few overs of relative calm followed, Hayden forging runs with Martyn but never looking too assured, and his dismissal, came in an over where Australia had actually looked on top. However, Simon Jones got the last laugh over Hayden - only to later be reprimanded by the ICC for his celebrations. England kept muscling on, and despite never playing on top of their game they got four more wickets before the scheduled close of play. Giles got two of those, dismissing Katich and Gilchrist, and then 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 was lucky on more than one occasion, playing streaky shots that could easily have got him out, but he did smash Giles for 12 in one over. He was not out overnight - however, 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 Michael Clarke, who missed the ball completely to be bowled. England now only needed two wickets on the fourth day - Australia, however, needed 107 runs for the victory.

Day Four

On the fourth day, Australia defied all predictions with a 45-run partnership between Warne and Lee, before Warne was forced back onto his stumps by Flintoff to get dismissed hit wicket. Kasprowicz came in and supported Lee well, fending off aggressive bowling from Flintoff and Harmison. The pair had England on the back foot as their victory target neared closer and closer, edging virtually everything. With three to win, and three results possible, Harmison had Kasprowicz caught behind, with replays showing that the ball hit the batsman's hand when it was off the bat. If the hand had been on the bat, it would have been a correct decision - as it stood, it was incorrect to give him out. This would prove to be a crucial error in the context of the series. England were thus victors - if in almost the most narrow way possible - and the series very much alive.

Rather than engaging in the victory celebrations, the immediate reaction of Flintoff to the winning dismissal was to console the despondent batsmen—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 is the narrowest result in Ashes cricket history (there have been two Tests won by a margin of only three runs). It is also the second narrowest run victory in all Test cricket history. (other narrow victories given here)

Third Test: England v Australia (11–15 August)

11 – 15 August
444 (113.2 overs)
MP Vaughan 166 (215)
SK Warne 4/99 [33.2]
302 (84.5 overs)
SK Warne 90 (122)
SP Jones 6/53 [17.5]
280/6d (61.5 overs)
AJ Strauss 106 (158)
GD McGrath 5/115 [20.5]
371/9 (108 overs)
RT Ponting 156 (275)
A Flintoff 4/71 [25]
Match drawn
Old Trafford, Manchester
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and SA Bucknor (WI)
Player of the match: RT Ponting (Aus)
  • England won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Rain on Day 3 delayed play until 15:00.

Day One

With the series square after England's close win in the second match at Edgbaston in Birmingham, the stakes of the third Test at Old Trafford in Manchester had risen significantly. The day 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 against Marcus Trescothick who mistimed a sweep shot and was caught behind by Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, 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. England's wickets fell slowly, with many a missed opportunity for Australia helping the hosts to run up a big first innings total. This was also helped by a fruitful partnership between Trescothick and Michael Vaughan, who added 137 before Trescothick was dismissed after lunch. Vaughan became the first man in the series to get a century.

The frustrated Australia team faced a fearless England side who challenged them at every turn, and recovered nicely even after the dismissals of Trescothick and Vaughan, who couldn't resist smacking a full toss from Katich straight to McGrath at the boundary. Vaughan was dismissed after 166 runs, which was destined to be the highest individual score in the series. Australia were also faced with a more defiant Ian Bell, who had struggled in the first two Tests. Picking up where Vaughan left off after tea, Bell, Kevin Pietersen and nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard closed out the day for England with the score 341 for 5.

Day Two

Bell did not add to his overnight score, being given out caught behind in controversial circumstances, as replays indicated he did not make contact with the ball. 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 a 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 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. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Northamptonshire v Australia (20–21 August)

Match drawn

Australia scored more than four times as many runs for each wicket as their hosts Northamptonshire at Northampton, yet the two-day time limit and Australia's hunger for batting practice ensured a draw. Northamptonshire won the toss, and put their guests in to bat, and Steffan Jones got two early breakthroughs as Australia were set back to 69 for 3 - Damien Martyn having spent only 14 minutes at the crease for his 26 - but Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke spent good time in the middle making their centuries. The Australians declared on 374 for 6, and immediately dug into the Northamptonshire batsmen, who were effectively reduced to 48 for 5 when Tim Roberts retired hurt for 18. Glenn McGrath only bowled 11 overs, but used his time well, taking three for 24, while Shaun Tait and Brett Lee also got among the wickets with two each. Northamptonshire were bowled out for 169, and Australia opted to bat again, Simon Katich and Justin Langer both making half-centuries before the final day's play ended and the game was drawn. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Fourth Test: England v Australia (25–28 August)

25 – 28 August
477 (123.1 overs)
A Flintoff 102 (132)
SK Warne 4/102 [29.1]
218 (49.1 overs)
B Lee 47 (44)
SP Jones 5/44 [14.1]
129/7 (31.5 overs)
ME Trescothick 27 (22)
SK Warne 4/31 [13.5]
387 (f/o) (124 overs)
JL Langer 61 (112)
SJ Harmison 3/93 [30]
England won by 3 wickets
Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and SA Bucknor (WI)
Player of the match: A Flintoff (Eng)
  • England won the toss and elected to bat.

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 debatable decision — television replays indicated that the ball might have 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 defence, 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, who verbally expressed his displeasure at England's use of subs to the players, umpires and administrators as he left the field.

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.

File:Strauss dismissal.jpg
Andrew Strauss plays forward to Shane Warne with Michael Clarke waiting to take the catch.

England then proceeded to send the game into a nailbiter — 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 honours 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.

Ashes Reactions from the public (last day)

Essex v Australians (3–4 September)

Match drawn

Both sides surpassed 500 in their innings in this two-day match, which included four centuries and expensive bowling figures on either side - as Jason Gillespie was the most economical, with an analysis reading 22-3-80-0. Essex batted first at Chelmsford after winning the toss, and Will Jefferson added 140 for the first wicket with Alastair Cook before being bowled by Michael Kasprowicz. However, the second-wicket partnership was worth even more than the first. Cook slashed 33 fours and one six on his way to 214 - which would have been his highest first class score if the match had had first class status - and added 270 with Ravinder Bopara.

After 105 overs, Essex declared with the score 502 for 4, giving Australia the turn to exploit bad bowling and a flat pitch. Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden added 213 for the first wicket, Hayden went on to make a 118-ball 150 before retiring, while Brad Hodge was allowed to top score with 166 from number 4, including a 161-run fifth-wicket partnership with Brad Haddin. For Essex, James Middlebrook got the best bowling figures with two for 110, including Adam Gilchrist for 8, as Australia finished the day's batting practice with the score 561 for 6. (Cricinfo scorecard)

Final Test: England v Australia (8–12 September)

8 – 12 September
373 (105.3 overs)
AJ Strauss 129 (210)
SK Warne 6/122 [37.3]
367 (107.1 overs)
ML Hayden 138 (303)
A Flintoff 5/78 [34]
335 (91.3 overs)
KP Pietersen 158 (187)
SK Warne 6/124 [38.3]
4/0 (0.4 overs)
Match drawn; England won series 2–1
The Oval, London
Umpires: BF Bowden (NZ) and RE Koertzen (SA)
Player of the match: KP Pietersen (Eng)
Men of the Series: A Flintoff (Eng) and SK Warne (Aus)
Compton-Miller Medal: A Flintoff (Eng)
  • England won the toss and elected to bat.
  • Play on Day 2 called off due to rain and bad light after tea.
  • 8 overs added to Day 3 to make up for lost time.
  • Play on Day 3 delayed until 10:30 due to wet conditions.
  • Play on Day 3 called off 7 minutes early due to bad light.
  • Play on Day 4 stopped at 15:42 due to bad light; play abandoned at 18:15.

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, 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.

BBC day four synopsis

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 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.


  • Playfair Cricket Annual 2006
  • Wisden Cricketers Almanack 2006