England v Australia, Second Test, Edgbaston, 4-7 August 2005
England 407 and 182, Australia 308 and 279.
England won by two runs.
Day One: The hospital pass that changed the Test
You could tell it wasn’t going to be Australia’s day once Glenn McGrath trod on a cricket ball while playing touch footy. No, he wasn’t playing touch footy with the cricket ball.
The Aussie lads were playing some warm-up touch footy (rugby league) on the Edgbaston outfield before the start of play in the Second Test, as you do. Brad Haddin passed the football to McGrath. McGrath heads for the tryline, and… who didn’t put that Kookaburra away??
Over on his ankle, out of the Second Test, and with the Third Test in Manchester starting next Thursday, surely out for that too. I ask again, who didn’t put that cricket ball back into the practice kit? Or maybe it was planted there by an undercover investigative reporter from The Sun masquerading as Mike Kasprowicz. It all gives a new meaning to that age-old rugby league term “hospital pass”.
Unquestionably, the McGrath ball-balancing trick was Thursday’s Play Of The Day. But coming in close behind was Ricky Ponting’s call of the toss. Yeah, we’ve just lost our best – by a country mile – strike bowler so we’ll give the Poms a bat first.
And that brings me to the Question du Jour: When was the last time England scored 407 runs in the opening day of an Ashes Test after being sent into bat?
Midwinter-Midwinter points for Day One at Edgbaston: 3 pts – Marcus Trescothick; 2 pts – Andrew Flintoff; 1 pt – Kevin Pietersen.
That stumps score: England 407 all out. Australia to begin its first innings on Friday morning.
Day two: Golden quackers queue here
The Primary Club is a charitable organisation that raises money to provide facilities for visually impaired people. To be eligible to play for the Primary Club you should have been dismissed at least once in your life for a golden duck, ie, out first ball.
Matty Hayden: the URL to sign up is http://www.primaryclub.org/shop/join.php.
Coming back from conceding 407 on the opening day of the Second Test is a big ask for the Australians. It didn’t help when Hayden hit his first ball of the match straight to Andrew Strauss. Justin Langer maintained his tradition of getting struck in the first over of the innings. He describes what happened in his Test diary on BBC Online. At least he did recover to make 82. Australia were looking healthy at 194 for 3. Not so at 308 for 10. Thank you Flintoff, Fred and bin Giles, Wheelie.
Day’s end, and Warnie brought up wicket number 594. I wish I had the stats on how many clean -bowled-off-a-ripsnorting-leg-break dismissals are among that 594, but you can add Andy Strauss to that list.
Midwinter-Midwinter votes for Friday: 3 pts – Ashley Giles; 2 pts – Justin Langer; 1 pt – Andrew Flintoff.
Day three: We hope you will enjoy the show
Saturday at the Edgbaston Test. Everyone dresses up in their best gear. There’s those blokes dressed up as bright purple whoopie cushions. The Aussie fans wearing their authentic replica 1980-81 ODI gear – you know, the gorgeous canary yellow body-hugging kit with the tasteful lime green panels under the armpits. And it was good to see the Beatles re-forming to see if they could still fit into their Sgt Peppers uniforms. (No, don’t ask me how John and George got tickets to the game.)
Yes, great atmosphere at the Test. Who needs Twenty20? And the joint was really jumpin by the end of the day when it was clear that England was going to win this.
Great bowling by Brett Lee at the start of the day – and yes it’s been a while since I’ve used the words “great”, “bowling”, “Brett” and “Lee” in the same sentence. Warnie ten for the match, 599 not out. Freddie Flintoff – I’ve never been a big fan of his, too inconsistent and problematic fitness for mine – but he’s having a belter. And the last ball of the day – that ultra-slow yorker from Harmison that beat Clarke – is one of the most memorable single moments in cricket I’ve seen for quite some time.
A great day in a great game. It’s just a question of how long England will take to tie up the series on Sunday morning.
Midwinter-Midwinter votes for Saturday: 3 pts – Shane Warne; 2 pts – Andrew Flintoff; 1 pt – Brett Lee.
Day four: I do not believe this
I firmly believe that there is nothing more exhilirating in sport than a good game of Test cricket. This game at Edgbaston was one of the best. England by two runs.
I put this alongside the two Tests I consider the two best that I have seen in the past: the 1977 Centenary Test at the MCG, and the 1993 Test at the Adelaide Oval when the West Indies beat Australia by one run.
It’s just amazing that Australia got so close. They started the day needing 107 to win, England wanted just two balls to finish the game. Shane Warne batted intelligently, but when he trod on his stumps it looked like it was all over. Brett Lee, never a mug with the bat, put in the most mature performance I have seen from him, especially after he got struck on the glove.
I think I’m convinced now about Flintoff’s brilliance. The series is 1-1 (halfway to my prediction of 2-2), and Old Trafford starts on Thursday. Hey, we’ve got a series on our hands!
I’ll review the press and blog reaction a bit later (after I calm down), but my Midwinter-Midwinters for a shortened Day Four are: 2 pts – Brett Lee, 1 pt – Michael Kasprowicz.
Why Kasprowicz is the new McDermott, and other reaction
Matthew Hayden’s single ball innings was everything it had promised to be…
– Nick Whittock, Ashes, 6.8.05
January 26, 1993: Adelaide Oval. Australia needs two runs to win against the West Indies. Walsh bowls short to McDermott, the ball brushes his glove and is taken by wicketkeeper Junior Murray. West Indies wins by one run. Or did the ball come off McDermott’s helmet?
August 7, 2005: Edgbaston. Australia needs three runs to win against England. Harmison bowls short to Kasprowicz, who fends the ball off his glove to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones. England wins by two runs. But did it strike the glove that was not in contact with the bat?
While the English random word generators are coming up with new ways of describing Flintoffesque acts of heroism, the Sydney Morning Herald is preoccupied with the semantics of Kasprowicz’s dismissal. Read Jano Gibson’s dissection of the Kasprowicz dismissal on SMH Online and then watch their poorly-encoded Windows Media copy of the Sky Sports slomo replay.
Just as batting, bowling and fielding are subject to the foibles of human ability, so too is umpiring. Billy Bowden made the only humanly possible call. As they say, read about it in tomorrow’s papers.
Which brings us to that hotbed of media diversity, the British tabloid market. Precisely what drugs they are on in the Mirror editorial meetings, I do not know.
At the Australian Murdoch mansions, I give you Crash Craddock. Maybe more tomorrow.
It would be remiss if I didn’t mention Rob Smyth’s blog-when-you-don’t-have-a-blog of the final session at the Guardian. Anand Vasu’s complete, quarter-megabyte commentary for CricInfo can be found here.
In more conventional blogland, the Corridor of Uncertainty’s day four blog includes ninety comments – a great group blog going there. Ubersportingpundit has another literate collection of observations about the Test. The blog simply known as The Ashes has a superb photo gallery of re-enactments of key events from the game. Nick Whittock, whose cricket blog is even more eccentric than mine, reminds us all that Mister Infredible’s surname is but an eight-letter word beginning with F and ending with Off.