Stunned reaction from Down Under
England dodged a huge bullet in their gripping two-run victory over Australia to level the Ashes cricket series, according to the former Australian Test batsman Dean Jones. Australia, coming into the fourth day needing 107 runs with two wickets left for an improbable victory, added 104 and almost pinched a famous victory after England had dominated the second Test.
"England are not a bad team, that's been proven in this match, [but] if they lost this match they needed a foot up the backside," said Jones, a home-based panellist on SBS television's coverage of the match.
"Honestly, let's be real about it, they dodged a huge bullet there. Psychologically, they would have walked into their dressing room and said 'Thank God for that'. The Australians will say that they played at 60 percent, we lost Glenn McGrath at the start of the Test, we didn't do that well, things didn't go our way, we must improve. Now there's a big turning pitch at Old Trafford. Who knows what will happen?"
The Ashes series goes to the third Test at Old Trafford starting on Thursday. Allan Border, the former Australia captain, admitted to a sense of deja vu as Australia fell an agonising three runs short of victory. The last-wicket effort of Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz, which almost stole an unlikely win, took Border back 23 years when he and Jeff Thomson went within four runs of a similar Ashes win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Speaking on Fox Sports, Border said he believed Lee and Kasprowicz would exorcise the ghosts of the 1982 Boxing Day Test when Thomson was out for 21 to a juggling catch in the slips off Ian Botham's bowling. Border remained not out 62 after putting on 70 with Thomson.
"Talk about deja vu," he said of the tense partnership. "I thought this was going to be payback. It was such a great Test match and an unbelievable finish, but you feel sorry for those three blokes [Shane Warne, Lee and Kasprowicz]. Michael Kasprowicz will have nightmares about that for the rest of his career. I know - I've been there myself."
Jones said that Andrew Flintoff changed the game for England. "Four wickets in nine balls [in Australia's second innings], he completely changed the game and he deserved everything."
Jones's co-panellist, the former Test off-spinner, Greg Matthews said England were now an even-money bet to win the third Test and go 2-1 up in the five-Test series. "This just sets it up beautifully. It's almost an even-money bet with McGrath out of the next Test."