England v Australia, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 2005 August 7, 2005

A humdinger for the ages

England take the final wicket of a classic match © Getty Images

What a Test. 1176 runs, 40 wickets, a run rate of 5 an over almost right through, 18 sixes and 143 fours. And all that in just three days and a session. But those numbers, impressive as they are, do not even begin to describe the nerve-wrenching last hour of what was one of the greatest Tests ever. Few gave Australia a hope of coming close after they came out this morning needing 107 runs with a couple of wickets in hand. They fell short, but only just.

A meagre two runs, paltry in number but gigantic in significance, was the difference between England drawing level in the Ashes and going 2-0 down. This is England's narrowest margin of victory in terms of runs in Test history, a whole run less than their three-run victory against Australia in the fourth Test at Melbourne in 1982-83. Incidentally, this is also the second-smallest margin of victory while defending a score. Once again, Australia have the distinction of losing by the smallest margin ever, a single run, against West Indies at Adelaide in 1992-93.

You cannot help but notice the numerous times Australia have competed in close Tests. It is testament to the kind of cricket they play - with undying self-belief and astonishing confidence. Edgbaston was not for the faint at heart. What magic does Old Trafford have for us?

England's narrowest wins Opponents Match/Venue/Date
2 runs Australia 2nd Test/Edgbaston/2005
3 runs Australia 4th Test/MCG/1982-83
10 runs Australia 1st Test/Sydney/1894-95
12 runs Australia 4th Test/Adelaide/1928-29
12 runs Australia 4th Test/MCG/1998-99
13 runs Australia 1st Test/SCG/1886-87
18 runs Australia 3rd Test/Headingley/1981
19 runs Australia 6th Test/The Oval/1997
23 runs South Africa 5th Test/Headingley/1998
25 runs Pakistan 3rd Test/Headingley/1971

Narrowest wins Won/Lost Match/Venue/Date
1 run WI/Aus 4th Test/Adelaide/1992-93
2 runs Eng/Aus 2nd Test/Edgbaston/2005
3 runs Aus/Eng 4th Test/Old Trafford/1902
3 runs Eng/Aus 4th Test/MCG/1982-83
5 runs SA/Aus 2nd Test/SCG/1993-94
6 runs Aus/Eng 3rd Test/SCG/1884-85
7 runs Aus/Eng 1st Test/The Oval/1882
7 runs SA/SL 2nd Test/Kandy/2000-01

(Only narrowest margins of victory while defending a score have been included)

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo, and for the statistics he was helped by Arun Gopalakrishnan from the Cricinfo Chennai office