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
25

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

  • Sika 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Krishdking1781988 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.

  • ZEUS00 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.

  • 69denise on June 14, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    Hey Mark Labozzetta, Australian much?

  • ruester 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Sika 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Krishdking1781988 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.

  • ZEUS00 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.

  • 69denise on June 14, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    Hey Mark Labozzetta, Australian much?

  • ruester 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • on June 13, 2010, 20:32 GMT

    gr8 match !! didnt see it tho !!

  • MartinAmber on June 13, 2010, 19:37 GMT

    @ Thomas Andrew Blandford: had Australia won the match it would have been due to the highest match-winning 10th wicket stand in the history of Test cricket, so it would still have justified the epithet. That said I agree with your sentiments. It's just that Sunday morning was too horrible to watch, for me to describe it as an unforgettable session of cricket. The Saturday of the same Edgbaston Test, though: that was the greatest day's Test cricket in this country since 1981. 332 runs, 17 wickets, Flintoff's innings, Warne taking 10 in the match, Flintoff's 2 wickets in 1 over, an Aussie collapse and Harmison's slower ball at the end.

  • mrgupta on June 13, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    @santhoshkudva: Match was between Aussies and Eng, this article is in reference to these two teams and the players belonging to these two teams. How come phrases like the "Unfortunately teams like India take advantage of such provision"? You are one of those people who would comment on an article on WWII saying India started it. Comon, grow up and try to understand the context of what you are reading and commenting on.

  • on June 13, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    Yeah, one of the best Test matches. Actually more than England winning it, it was actually Australia loosing it from a point where they should have won. But then thats TEST Cricket for you!!

  • on June 13, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    I remember it so fondly. I had given up hope and thought we were going to lose such an epic match, but it wouldn't have been dubbed 'The Greatest Test Match' if Australia had won it, and when Jones took the catch from Harmison and Bowden gave Kasprowicz out, I can tell you, the whole street was partying. It was euphoria but in a way that euphoria as a description couldn't justify the feeling. It was truly the best Test Match I had ever seen, and probably the best game of Cricket I'll ever see. It will take some beating, and it can only have come from an Ashes game.

    People who believe Test Matches are dead boring should sit in front of a DVD of this match and then tell us whether it's boring or not. It's the ultimate form of Cricket for a reason.

  • CricFan78 on June 13, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    Well the fact is England should have won that match comfortably. However some rubbish bowling by them in morning allowed Aussies off the hook. The tensions must be high but it had hardly anything to do with quality Test cricket that morning from England.

  • demon_bowler on June 13, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    This great match and brilliant series was probably the last time that test cricket will be a truly national event in this country. What a shame that this whole series was turned into a marketing exercise to attract Rupert Murdoch's money.

  • santhoshkudva on June 13, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    @ vowel '..........And people say test matches are boring..." as much as i am a test cricket follower, i must admit that test matches are boring, though for no fault of the games. test cricket thrives solely because of Australia which goes that extra mile to eke out results from even matches shortened due to rain. the main, or shall i say the sole aim of any sport is to win, and cricket has a way of spoiling its men by allowing them to settle for a 'draw' if a victory is not possible. unfortunately teams like India take unfair advantage of this provision and win matches only if they are sure of doing it. while the game also allows you to 'not lose' if a win is not possible, teams choose to see it the other way : that a win is 'also a possibility'.

  • on June 13, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    The day whether u English fan or Aussie or from any country winner is Test Cricket it basically revolutionized test cricket

  • gudolerhum on June 13, 2010, 13:59 GMT

    Sometimes bad umpiring decisions can make great cricket - but don't tell the batsmen or the bowlers that!

  • Andre2 on June 13, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    What happened to the commentary for THAT match in Cricinfo ? The one you can find today is just the ball by ball score (run or extra or no ball) with NO TEXT AT ALL describing all the actions. Where is the commentary that I have read during that match (I was travelling in Quebec and Cricinfo was the only link with the game !) ? Thank you for the answer.

  • Vowel on June 13, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    And people say test matches are boring...

  • gramedgar on June 13, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    it was an amazing day, match and series. it seemed to me that so many people were wrapped up in the ashes that summer, it was everywhere and that wicket was the thing that saved the whole shebang from falling apart.

    i have to say though, we bowled pretty badly and were extremely fortunate on that last morning.

  • on June 13, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    It was a superb match. When I was just thinking that England will sweep the tail suddenly the fightback. And I thought that Kasprowicz has survived the entire session he can survive a bit longer and take Aussies right through when suddenly out of the blue it happened. A match you will never forget

  • blenheimfs on June 13, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    What a morning - I had bought tickets for the Sunday for myself and my daughter (her first visit to a test match) and was cursing my luck that our day might only last 2 balls. As Australia inched towards the total, the tension mounted until Shane Warne trod on his wicket - all would be well now and, even if Kasporawicz was out first ball, it didn't now matter that we had only had an hour's cricket. As the score mounted towards 90, resignation began to set in and thoughts of "same old England" abounded. When Jones spilled the catch, it seemed time to go - but we couldn't. Why was Vaughan still posting a sweeper on the cover boundary and allowing a singlle at will with only a few needed? Silly s*d - my granny knows better! Then Lee smashed a ball towards Pietersen who saved 3 runs. What do I know about field placing!Just as we had given up all hope, there was Jones tumbling away to his left, coming up with the ball, the umpire's finger was raised and the series was level. What a day!

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  • blenheimfs on June 13, 2010, 7:57 GMT

    What a morning - I had bought tickets for the Sunday for myself and my daughter (her first visit to a test match) and was cursing my luck that our day might only last 2 balls. As Australia inched towards the total, the tension mounted until Shane Warne trod on his wicket - all would be well now and, even if Kasporawicz was out first ball, it didn't now matter that we had only had an hour's cricket. As the score mounted towards 90, resignation began to set in and thoughts of "same old England" abounded. When Jones spilled the catch, it seemed time to go - but we couldn't. Why was Vaughan still posting a sweeper on the cover boundary and allowing a singlle at will with only a few needed? Silly s*d - my granny knows better! Then Lee smashed a ball towards Pietersen who saved 3 runs. What do I know about field placing!Just as we had given up all hope, there was Jones tumbling away to his left, coming up with the ball, the umpire's finger was raised and the series was level. What a day!

  • on June 13, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    It was a superb match. When I was just thinking that England will sweep the tail suddenly the fightback. And I thought that Kasprowicz has survived the entire session he can survive a bit longer and take Aussies right through when suddenly out of the blue it happened. A match you will never forget

  • gramedgar on June 13, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    it was an amazing day, match and series. it seemed to me that so many people were wrapped up in the ashes that summer, it was everywhere and that wicket was the thing that saved the whole shebang from falling apart.

    i have to say though, we bowled pretty badly and were extremely fortunate on that last morning.

  • Vowel on June 13, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    And people say test matches are boring...

  • Andre2 on June 13, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    What happened to the commentary for THAT match in Cricinfo ? The one you can find today is just the ball by ball score (run or extra or no ball) with NO TEXT AT ALL describing all the actions. Where is the commentary that I have read during that match (I was travelling in Quebec and Cricinfo was the only link with the game !) ? Thank you for the answer.

  • gudolerhum on June 13, 2010, 13:59 GMT

    Sometimes bad umpiring decisions can make great cricket - but don't tell the batsmen or the bowlers that!

  • on June 13, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    The day whether u English fan or Aussie or from any country winner is Test Cricket it basically revolutionized test cricket

  • santhoshkudva on June 13, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    @ vowel '..........And people say test matches are boring..." as much as i am a test cricket follower, i must admit that test matches are boring, though for no fault of the games. test cricket thrives solely because of Australia which goes that extra mile to eke out results from even matches shortened due to rain. the main, or shall i say the sole aim of any sport is to win, and cricket has a way of spoiling its men by allowing them to settle for a 'draw' if a victory is not possible. unfortunately teams like India take unfair advantage of this provision and win matches only if they are sure of doing it. while the game also allows you to 'not lose' if a win is not possible, teams choose to see it the other way : that a win is 'also a possibility'.

  • demon_bowler on June 13, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    This great match and brilliant series was probably the last time that test cricket will be a truly national event in this country. What a shame that this whole series was turned into a marketing exercise to attract Rupert Murdoch's money.

  • CricFan78 on June 13, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    Well the fact is England should have won that match comfortably. However some rubbish bowling by them in morning allowed Aussies off the hook. The tensions must be high but it had hardly anything to do with quality Test cricket that morning from England.