England v Australia, second Test, Edgbaston, 2005 June 13, 2010

A hundred minutes to last a lifetime

Steve James
Edgbaston 2005: one unforgettable session, the second-closest Test win ever - it was enough to make a man turn against his friend

The morning of Sunday, August 7, 2005. The scene is an increasingly noisy living room in Cardiff, Wales. And the noise is not coming from the children of the house.

"Daddy, what are you doing? Why are you shouting at the TV?" says the little girl. "That's Michael, isn't' it? He's your friend. Why are you shouting at him and saying nasty things?"

My daughter Bethan was just seven then. How could she understand that I was screaming at my mate Michael Kasprowicz - and he is one of the finest men with whom I have ever shared a cricket field - because he was inching Australia ever nearer a second Test win, which would surely have killed the series stone dead?

It truly was a remarkable morning. Australia began the bright, sunny day requiring 107 more to win, but with just two wickets remaining. It appeared a formality for England. But it soon became a cliffhanger. The session only lasted 100 minutes, but there was enough action to last a lifetime. It is a session I will never forget.

Shane Warne scythed a few and then trod on his stumps. And so Kasprowicz joined Brett Lee. It was a partnership that touched extremes of emotion that few others have managed. And its ultimate failure presaged an unforgettable summer of English success.

This was cricket in the raw. Lee took blows to various parts of his body. Kasprowicz was plumb lbw - not given - and then dropped at third man by former Glamorgan team-mate Simon Jones. All the while boundaries flowed, from a bewildering assortment of edges, byes and meaty blows.

The tension was unbearable. And I wasn't even there. Just three were needed to win - and I admit I'd given up hope of an England win - when Steve Harmison ran in to Kasprowicz. A short ball aimed at the batsman's body - England's unsuccessful tactic all morning - was gloved to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones. No matter that Kasprowicz's right-hand glove was actually off the bat handle at the moment of contact. It was over and England had won.

"You'd better say sorry," said Bethan. "Bad luck," read the text. Sorry? No chance.

Steve James, who played two Tests for England, writes on cricket for the Sunday Telegraph.
This article first appeared in the Wisden Cricketer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Julian on June 16, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    In my view neither England nor Australia has produced the greatest test cricket sides of my thirty-five years of watching tests (those would bethe West Indians in the early 80s's and the Indian team of the early 2000's) but the 2005 Ashes has to be the best test series I have ever seen. Two roughly equal sides playing their hearts out for pride, not money- and that's how cricket should be in an ideal world. An awesome series, and I can well see how Mr James can recall this game so fondly and how he could temporarily betray his friendship.

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    God give me strength, another article on this test- Yawn! Hasn't England won any Test of note since then? Why are there not as many articles on the 2006/07 series?

  • Dummy4 on June 16, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    It has to be the 2nd best test i ever watched, as the best is still Australia vs India in kolkata 2001. But I remember this game quite well...Absolutely great Game, which surely shows why test cricket is the ultimate Test for every player.

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    i was supporting the aussies ....nd trust me the climax left a deep scar on all the aussie fans as they came perilously close b4 england pulled off the victory from the jaws of defeat. despite the result favouring england, i wud always remember this test match for the heroics nd grit of 1 man...who perhaps nw will neva wear tht baggy green again......BRET LEE

  • Radha on June 14, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    Yes that was one of the best test match. I totally was glued to my tv set and I was rooting for England. As Australia inched closer to their target I was cursing England bowlers for bowling short and aiming at batsman's body all day. But then, with just 3 to win it was all over for Australia. The match showed how true is the saying that "It is not over until its over". Truly its "The Greatest Test Match" I have ever seen.

  • Z on June 14, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    Thanks Steve for not bringing up Flintoff's grand gesture towards Brett Lee at the end! Even magnanimity, if excessively discussed, becomes indigestible after a while, doesn't it?! Anyone who says that Test cricket is boring, needs to be shown the last hour of this match, and one might see an instantaneous transformation in their thinking. I am Kiwi (was supporting neither team) and still found this match absolutely electrifying to watch.

  • DJ on June 14, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    Hey Mark Labozzetta, Australian much?

  • Rue on June 14, 2010, 4:39 GMT

    I was luckily enough to be at the ground, I even considered not attending as I thought it was all over. How fortunate I was to experience that session, the most tense, competative, nerve shredding cricket I have seen live. Hats off to the Australian players who fought magnificently for their country and a special mention to the aussie fans who counted down each run scored to the tune of "ten green bottles" As an english supporter it was funny at 100 runs to go, but not at five...four...three. They came so close...but im pleased to say not close enough.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2010, 20:52 GMT

    This is what happens when ESPN takes over content, you get short, meaningless articles that are poorly written and take less than two minutes to read. It's pathetic.

    I'll miss you, Cricinfo, and I'll especially miss the days when you actually allowed you writers to write.

  • Dummy4 on June 13, 2010, 20:35 GMT

    I remember following an Ashes for the first time so seriously in 2005. Australia were on a nightmare tour where, prior to the ashes, they had already lost to Bangladesh in a round match in the Natwest Series. In this match, Australia were set 282 to win the match in the 4th innings. Simon Jones, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison had troubled Australia much with their reverse swingers and some clever bowling. At 175 for 8,Australia were out of the equation as only the tailenders were to come. However, Warne was at his best while batting on this tour as his run tally counted more than Gilchrist, Hayden and Damien Martyn had scored in this Ashes. He tried to avert defeat and almost took Australia on the brink of victory before being hit wicket. The pen-ultimate delivery was when Geraint Jones caught kasprowicz off Harmison's bowling with Australia only 3 runs away from victory. At the end, Flintoff consoled a dejected Lee on the ground with what became the cricketing image of the decade

  • No featured comments at the moment.