Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 12 Days Until the Ashes
David Green aka The Reverse Sweep tackles the final part of the 25 greatest Ashes tests ever
Today we conclude our mini-series of the 25 greatest Ashes tests of all time with the final nine starting in 1977 and ending in 2009.
Centenary Test, Melbourne, 12-17 March 1977 – Australia won by 45 runs: Not strictly an Ashes Test as the urn wasn’t at stake, but this match staged to commemorate the first-ever Test exactly 100 years earlier was a classic. Australia were shot out for 138 before Lillee turned the table on England with six for 26 as England could only muster 95. Rod Marsh then struck 110 as Australia set England a mammoth 463 for victory. Amazingly they got close and at one point were 346 for four. But when Randall fell for a brilliant 174 the end was nigh and Australia scraped home by 45 runs – the same margin as in that first test 100 years before.
3rd Test, Headingley, 16-21 July 1981 – England won by 18 runs: For the first three days, England were completely outplayed and followed on. It seemed inevitable that Australia were about to go 2-0 up in the series. Then Botham with able support from Dilley and Old smashed 149 not out and Willis roared in with eight for 43 to enable England, who at one point had been 500/1 for the win, to score an amazing victory.
4th Test, Edgbaston, 30 July-2 August 1981 – England won by 29 runs: Lightning struck twice for Australia in the very next match when they looked like winning a low scoring encounter at Edgbaston. Set 151 to win, they eased to 87 for three before Botham produced his second miracle of the summer grabbing five for one in 28 balls to secure a 29-run victory.
4th Test, Melbourne, 26-30 December 1982 – England won by 3 runs: An extremely tight match saw all four innings total between 284 and 294. When Australia were 218 for nine chasing 292 all looked lost for the home side. But Border and Thomson took them to within sight of the finishing line before that man Botham struck inducing an edge from Thomson that Tavare parried into the hands of a grateful Miller.
4th Test, Melbourne, 26-30 December 1998 – England won by 12 runs: England were 2-0 down and the Ashes had already gone coming into the Boxing Day Test. But some unlikely seasonal cheer came their way when Australia collapsed chasing 175 – sliding from 130 for three to 162 all out. Dean Headley had his moment in the sun with six wickets whilst Steve Waugh scored 122 not out and 30 not out.
2nd Test, Edgbaston, 4-7 August 2005 – England won by 2 runs: The best test in history? McGrath and that cricket ball. Ponting wins the toss and inexplicably puts England in. England score over 400 on day one and lead by 99 on 1stinnings. The Aussies fightback but a last wicket stand of 51 from Flintoff and Simon Jones enables England to set the Aussies 282 to win. A magical over by Flintoff accounts for Langer and Ponting. A magnificent slower ball from Harmison bamboozles Clarke. Lee with Warne and then Kasprowicz take Australia to the precipice of victory before Harmison and Geraint Jones combined to win the day for England. Flintoff consoles Lee. Breathtaking.
4th Test, Trent Bridge, 25-28 August 2005 – England won by 3 wickets: England dominated the match with a century from Flintoff and five wickets for Simon Jones. But in pursuit of only 129 for victory after Australia had followed on, panic set in against an inspired Warne and Lee. Giles and Hoggard were the unlikely heroes that steered England home.
2nd Test, Adelaide, 1-5 December 2006 – Australia won by six wickets: Disaster and ignominious defeat for England and glory for Australia. A double-hundred for Collingwood and 158 from Pietersen saw England declare on 551 for six. Hoggard took seven wickets as Australia conceded a 38 run lead – it should have been more but Giles dropped Ponting and the Australian captain cashed in with 142. With a draw the most likely result, England caved in on the last day to be all out for 129 with an inspirational Warne pulling the strings and Australia cantered to victory and ultimately a 5-0 series win.
5th Test, The Oval, 20-23 August – England won by 197 runs: With the series level at 1-1, the momentum was with Australia after a crushing win at Headingley in the 4th Test. But Strauss won a crucial toss and led from the front with 55 and Bell top-scored with 72 as England scored 332. Then with Australia cruising at 73 for o, Stuart Broad (five for 37) bowled an inspired spell as the tourists were reduced to 111 for seven and finally 160 all out. Jonathan Trott then struck a composed hundred on debut with Strauss hitting his second fifty of the match to help set Australia an unlikely 546 for victory. At 217 for two, England were nervous but Flintoff’s run out of Ponting proved to be decisive and the Ashes had been regained.
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