Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 70 Days Until the Ashes…
Back at number 98 of our Ashes 100-1 countdown we relayed our experience of the Boxing Day test of 1998 where Dean Headley’s career peak helped inebriate us and the rest of the Barmy Army all the way through to the New Year celebrations in Sydney (see 98 – Deano’s match). Boy, that was some hangover!
Next up was the final test in Sydney where a victory would see England square the series 2-2. The Ashes were already gone, but to leave Australia with a share of the spoils was more than any of us could have hoped for after the shambolic performances in Perth and Adelaide.
As usual, the England spectators we mingled with at the SCG were full of voice and ridiculous optimism and on day one Darren Gough fuelled our belief with one of the great Ashes moments. Just before the end of the day, England had clawed their way back after a big partnership from the Waugh brothers had put Australia in relative comfort at 319 for five, but with Headley accounting for Mark Waugh the scene was left to Gough.
Gough responded in typically charismatic fashion with a hat trick (which you can relive below). Healy was caught behind by Warren Hegg and then Stuart MacGill and Colin Miller both fell to reverse swinging yorkers. The roof came off a capacity SCG crowd as the celebrations from the Boxing Day test were reignited in a big way. Australia lost their last five wickets for three runs.
Of course England couldn’t capitalise on Gough’s achievement and were bowled out for 220 in response. But even then England could have turned things around if Michael Slater had been adjudged run out when the score was on 60 in Australia’s second innings. Unfortunately, the umpires made a poor decision and Slater went on to hit a magnificent 123 out of Australia’s 184. England got to 131 for three in chasing 287 but then folded and Australia won the match by 98 runs to hand retiring skipper Mark Taylor a win in his last match.
But the memory of Gough’s hat-trick and the celebrations after will live long in the memory.
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