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

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