Writers on the best day, session or passage of play they've seen live
The Wisden Cricketer

Australia v England, second Test, Adelaide, 2006

The thrill, the magic, the horror

When Warne took a Test match from dullness to unimaginable menace

Rob Smyth

August 22, 2010

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen is bowled by Shane Warne around his legs, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, December 5, 2006
KP comes a cropper © Getty Images
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It was supposed to be a quiet day at work. Seven hours of watching the second Test drift to sleep while typing a few words for the Guardian over-by-over report. It turned into the most unforgettable day's play imaginable: a numbing, traumatic and downright magical defeat. The vivid sensation of the day was exacerbated by the fact that I was alone in a huge office in the mezzanine hours, bleary-eyed yet simultaneously manic on free coffee; wondering if my eyes were deceiving me; desperate to share the wonder of Warne with anyone.

Of course, the main reason the memory endures is because of the astonishing performance of that rogue psychiatrist Warne, who got England on the couch and drove them doolally with demons that didn't even exist. Warne only took four wickets, two of them lower-order batsmen, but he got inside England's heads, numbing them into submission. And he was responsible for the moment the day snapped viciously into the horror genre, like the scene in the film when the wide-eyed teenager walks round the corner and into a swinging pickaxe.

That occurred when Kevin Pietersen was bowled round his legs - having boasted in his autobiography that such a dismissal would never happen. Even after claiming Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, you suspect Australia did not really believe they would win, but the symbolism of Pietersen's dismissal changed everything. England were four down and suddenly every single delivery crackled with unimaginable menace.

England held on grimly through the afternoon session, and Paul Collingwood's strokeless defiance brought a lump to the throat, but throughout it all there was the grisly awareness that there could be no happy ending for them here. A glorious era of English cricket died that day, and many fans can't even say the Macbethian word "Adelaide", referring instead to the "South Australian ground". Yet we should forget the parochial and marvel in one of the great days of sport, a heist that makes no more sense now than it did then.

Rob Smyth is the author of The Spirit of Cricket - What Makes Cricket the Greatest Game on Earth

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© The Wisden Cricketer

Posted by sonjjay on (August 25, 2010, 8:36 GMT)

Shane warne is clearly the best spinner the world has seen inspite of the fact that he did not do well against our indian team but i have never seen any1 spin the ball as much as shane, truly a classic of all times no one was as good as Shane, not even the sub continent tweakers...

Posted by RogerC on (August 25, 2010, 1:14 GMT)

If Warne had done it against India, then its called magic. In a similar context, if Viv Richards mauls the English bowlers of the 80s, its not magic.

Posted by OutdoorMiner on (August 24, 2010, 22:16 GMT)

@Charindra, funny how when they did clear him they created the 15 degree rule also

Posted by addiemanav on (August 24, 2010, 17:59 GMT)

congratulations to all those pissed off guys..now even cricinfo isnt publishing my comment...if someone cant be as passionate about their cricket and country as we indians are then thats none my problems..i started watching cricket in 98' when i was 10,and i can recall each and every test match that india has played till now..if u want to call me a fanboy,i wud graciously accept it!!everyone can talk about their team,but when we indians do,we are called india-centric posters!!i think their must be a better platform for us to argue..how about twitter??

Posted by MartinAmber on (August 24, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

I was having a difficult time in hospital for the entire duration of the 06/07 Ashes. I am English, so many might say 'lucky you'. Yet in spite of my own trauma, some things remain important to a person, and 25 years of following Ashes cricket was certainly one of them. I vividly remember checking Ceefax in the hospital common room that morning, expecting to read of a dull draw, and the actual result not sinking in for about an hour. I think it's the closest England have come in my lifetime to an Ashes experience as crippling as Australia's at Headingley in 1981. The best thing to come out of it, though, was Matthew Engel's peerless, wickedly funny match report for Wisden 2007. That remains - in spite of Haigh, Atherton, Martin Johnson and many other fine journalists and writers - the best single Test match summary I have ever read. I urge anyone who loves cricket and writing to seek it out.

Posted by Charindra on (August 24, 2010, 13:00 GMT)

@outdoorminer : I'm not going to get into that argument with you. Scientifically he has been proven to be legal, but of course, what is stupid science against the magic of your eyesight!!

Posted by CricketPissek on (August 24, 2010, 12:07 GMT)

haha @OutdoorMiner - them's fighting words! and @charindra.... you were asking for it machang. you're as bad as the other fanboys I was talking about. we couldn't read an article about Murali on his retirement without someone screaming he is not as good as warne.. and now we're not allowed to relive and appreciate some genuine magic from warne without some muppet saying he wasn't as good as murali! what a sad state of affairs that someone can't write an article appreciating a great player/team/match without some commentor(s) trying to play a weird trump card over it.. oh.. fyi and for what it's worth, i am Sri Lankan :)

Posted by RATNESH64 on (August 24, 2010, 11:49 GMT)

Dearest lessnar & EXRampage, How fools u r ? I m sure u don't know who bowled the first ball & whoo scored the first run ? It was 15-3-77 when A LFRED SAW BOWED THE FIRST BALL & Charls Barrenmen scored the first run in test match between Eng. & Aus. in Melbourn...Aus. won by 45 runs in 3 days...After 100 years again in 17-3-77 in Melbourn once again Aus. won by 45 runs...I have all details since 1971 of all cricket match, but which attack the most I published..Rohan1 might upset about tendulkar dismissal, but y he forget about Laxman's inning..Simply I m laughing about ur cricket knowledge ...Now how u feel lessnar & EXRamage. Pls comments just so as I will answer u must .

Posted by Mitcher on (August 24, 2010, 3:11 GMT)

Awesome summer!! Galavanting around the country avenging '05. I can only hope for something similar this time around though I suspect it may be a bit more of a grind. This was such a wonderfully unexpected result in Adelaide and really took the wind out of England's sails. Can't wait to get through 'warm ups' in India and get to the main course. As for India-centric posters, your bitterness truly nourishes me so keep up the good work!!

Posted by OutdoorMiner on (August 23, 2010, 22:29 GMT)

@Charindra, I don't include chuckers in my list of best bowlers

Posted by addiemanav on (August 23, 2010, 19:37 GMT)

i think the whole idea of writing about the adelaide game has been kind of diluted..never did i say that x was better than y,but i only tried to tell that something like this had happened earlier as well but was not celebrated as much as this was..as far as the ashes go,in the last 10 yrs,the best game was the one that england won by 2 runs when brett lee was left stranded..i hav seen enough of australia games,used to wake up at 5 to watch the ashes..just chill guys,i was never against the article..sometimes its good to remember some gr8 games..however i do agree that i am kind of eternal optimistic indian fan.i still feel we could have chased down 360 in the 2003 world cup final..so,cant change evrything!!and ya coming back to the game,i think eng had probably seen the highlights of india-aus game,where aus came out flashing in the 2nd innings & got out..eng approached entirely differently,way to cautious and eventually succumbed!!

Posted by boozed on (August 23, 2010, 19:27 GMT)

the best test match.....tht was ever played was kolkata 2001......here it was just the last day......in that test magic was performed from the 3rd day onwards......when no one gave india the chance to save the game they ultimately won the game........no match to that test match..........purely awsummmmm....

Posted by JimDavis on (August 23, 2010, 17:44 GMT)

Something_Witty is spot on about the pitch. Unless you really mess things up, there is next to no way you can lose batting 4th in Adelaide. The only team that can lose is the one batting 3rd. Either a lack of concerntration as the game drifts on the 4th day after spending too long standing under a blazing sun on days 2 and 3, or declaring too early. It's a pretty straight forward place to play out time for 4-5 session if need be batting 4th. This match caught the English cold, but most Australian's knew it could happen as we'd fallen victim to India a few seasons before with a reckless 3rd inning after posting a monster 1st.

Posted by Kaze on (August 23, 2010, 17:06 GMT)

This was a fantastic test. I know what the writer is talking about boredom. Almost everyone thought that it was a draw, and I watched every single minute of the final day expecting something to happen and it did :) . It's not , for me, the best test ever, but it is right up there with the best of them. It had fairly regulation cricket for most of it till the last day. Edgbaston 2005 was a more thrilling game as was Bridgetown 1999. Australia have produced the most thrilling matches ever especially when the opposition is England or WI.

Posted by princess_aklema on (August 23, 2010, 17:01 GMT)

the ashes white wash for england this year,the so called multiple nations team,ireland lost eoin morgan and ed joyce,sa lost the big kp,trott and co.when will this bulliness ever stop

Posted by arnavmalhotra on (August 23, 2010, 14:45 GMT)

This test match was mind - blowing.. I being an indian truly loved this test.. which was a tame draw till the 4th day.. but warney's magic and mcgrath's line and length did the trick.. peitersen's dismissal was ultimate. Even the wrong un and the flipper which got him 2 other wickets were 2 awesomely bowled delivery's.. All in all./. it was an exciting test match.. with runs, centuries and wickets.. The most ideal wickets in the world are those of Perth, hobart, melbourne, sydney,wellington,johannesberg,wanderer's , nagpur, kolkata, mohalietc.

Posted by lessnar on (August 23, 2010, 13:25 GMT)

India -Sri Lanka 2010???? its ridiculous! we r talking bout 128 years of history and the tracks in which that history has been made, players responsible for it. wake up rat.. LOL!!

Posted by Rohan1 on (August 23, 2010, 13:16 GMT)

@eyballfallenout RATNESH64 ,and co.:- The best Test match I ever saw was the one where W.G.Grace got his 13 th Test Hundred. Too bad Tendulkar got out early in that one...

Posted by AbhinavR on (August 23, 2010, 11:03 GMT)

@eyballfallenout "You could put an article up about the Sydney opera house and they would say it was unfair you didnt talk about tendulka being there once. Give it a break guys." LOL fair enough - but can i add that the anglo-aussie obsession with the ashes is equally annoying; whether its england playing pakistan or australia playing india it's always "good practice for the ashes". commentators, media and fans seem to think the rest of the cricketing world exists to provide practice for the so-called trophy that matters. i actually don't think the players mind, cos they feel the english in particular never have their eye on the ball because of their obsession with beating australia, but for the indian fan it is incredibly annoying and patronising.

Posted by boooonnie on (August 23, 2010, 10:57 GMT)

A wonderful game of cricket in a wonderful series for Australia. Every test playing nation heading into a last day of a test expecting a dull draw should keep this game in the back of their minds - don't give up, anything can happen in sports! Particularly when Shane Warne is playing in your team!

Posted by EXRampage on (August 23, 2010, 10:56 GMT)

Shane Warne is the greatest spinner..

Posted by EXRampage on (August 23, 2010, 10:54 GMT)

@RATNESH64. I guess that is the first test you saw..

Posted by Something_Witty on (August 23, 2010, 9:19 GMT)

Longrun, first of all I was born in Adelaide and lived there for many years, so don't think I'm just being biased. My point is that you cannot have interesting tests on a pitch that routinely concedes 450+ scores in the first and second innings. The fact that there are so few draws in Adelaide recently says more about the opposition Australia have played than it does about the pitch. Even just recently, the West Indies (who possess one of the worst batting lineups going around) managed to make 400+ and then 300+. That was after being absolutey destroyed in Brisbane (where the groundsman actually prepares a SPORTING pitch). It's absurdly flat, there is no swing because the air down south is so dry, so you'd think that the curator would do something to give the pitch conducive to seam movement and decent spin and/or bounce. But nope, nothing doing. It's as flat as the SSC pitch in Colombo. And Les should be ashamed of himself.

Posted by Winsome on (August 23, 2010, 8:58 GMT)

You people moaning that this wasnt't the best test ever and how dare he, blah, blah.. Read the article properly. Think about the context. The Guardian OBO writers are stuck in an office in the witching hours in grim, grey winter in London, writing on their own apart from emails from fans. It was the Ashes with the last hurrah of the Aussie greats. For an Aus or Eng fan that test was really quite remarkable.

That's all. He hasn't said ANYTHING about India or other teams. He hasn 't even said this was the best anything. Just written about an amazing day of Ashes cricket.

Grow up and stop imagining things that aren't there jsut so you can get huffy.

Posted by Charindra on (August 23, 2010, 7:49 GMT)

OutdoorMiner : How sad that you had to come up with such a big statement when we're just talking about one match. How about Warne's figures in the 1st innings of that match?? And as for the greatest spinner in the world, we all know that's a bloke from Kandy who always had a smile on his face.

Posted by CustomKid on (August 23, 2010, 7:15 GMT)

I agree something Witty - I live in Adelaide and it's my home ground but the Adelaide pitch is a disgrace. Yes it yields results but its 4 days of sleeping with a day of 1 team trying to survive on a mine field.

It has the best outfield in the world but again the current pitch leaves a lot to be desired. They need to recreate the wicket of 92-93 that saw arguably one of the best tests ever with the windies winning by 1 run. Neither team scored over 300 and wickets fell consistently for the full five days. I was only 16 years old when that game was played and went to every day and still to this day I haven't seen many better - It even had rain delays, something for the spinners and quicks.

I wished they would create pitches like South Africa's. There are rarely any dull series over there. Mitch Johnsons first 2 tests where some of the best bowling I've seen in recent memory. SA 3 for 5 with two in hospital was awesome! Anyway let's hope Adelaide's new curator gives it some life.

Posted by longrun on (August 23, 2010, 6:31 GMT)

if you think adelaide oval is one of the worst then you are ill informed. check the stats, results on day 5 in probably 80% of tests in last 20 years, and maybe 2 draws if you're lucky. 1st innings there's runs to be had, day 4 and 5 takes spin, if you bend your back bowling fast you'll get rewards through-out. it is one of the great test wins, no doubt about it. i guess if there was an article about the 60-61 series WI v Aus that many a better mind than mine say saved test cricket, then indians would pipe up and say they saved it 2001. can't we just enjoy the great game that is test cricket and appreciate great feats without feeling the need to get in a mine is better than yours contest. warne won that game for us. adelaide oval was a good wicket when vvs and dravid did the business a few years back after aussies scored 400 on day 1 though i'm sure. Adelaide oval is the best. i hope we can start playing test's in pakistan soon also, 4 everyone's sake, 'tis a great cricket nation

Posted by RATNESH64 on (August 23, 2010, 3:25 GMT)

In my view the last match between India & Shrilanka 2010 test was the best I ever seen.

Posted by eyballfallenout on (August 23, 2010, 2:34 GMT)

@ CricketPissek, I know, getting really tired of it now and dont want to read comments much anymore. You could put an article up about the Sydney opera house and they would say it was unfair you didnt talk about tendulka being there once. Give it a break guys.

Posted by OutdoorMiner on (August 23, 2010, 2:31 GMT)

Warne is the greatest spinner ever. no doubt

Posted by Something_Witty on (August 23, 2010, 1:57 GMT)

@ Popcorn + others. I think this article (and all the hype that has surrounded the Adelaide test match) is going a bit far. It was by no means the best test match ever. It SHOULD have been a boring 500 plays 500 draw. Because the pitch there is (in my opinion) one of the worst in the world and not fit for international cricket. By rights Aus should never have even come CLOSE to winning that test. If England had actually attempted to SCORE in their second inning, they would have been home and dry with a decent lead midway through the second session. Instead, they crawled along at 1.5 runs an over. We didn't win the Adelaide test, England lost it, and it was certainly not due to the groundsman/pitch that we won. It's funny that they managed to lose it, but personally I don't think the Adelaide test was anything special. It was only made out to be special by some pathetic English batting.

Posted by Gabbagod on (August 23, 2010, 1:03 GMT)

Couldnt agree more CricketPissek. Please let others talk about their countries without a sub continent bias. And just to let you know my favourite all time cricketing memories are the Ashes, the Frank Worrel trophy and Pakistan's WC triumph in Melbourne where I was sitting 1 row in front of the Pakistan change room. None of my top 25 involve India !! And now to Charinda .... probably makes up for the fact that Strauss was plum 10 overs earlier ! And watching Warnie bowl live or on tv for 95% of his career, he got some doubtful ones but many more that weren't given that should have been ! However, that is called "benefit of the doubt" to the batsmen - same as Murali, Harbajhan, Lillee, Larwood and Spofforth. Back to this Adelaide Test, brilliant as an Australian but in my opinion surpassed by Gilly in Perth and THAT century. These days us Aussies can only look back, smile and reminisce because I fear for us going forward !!

Posted by inxia on (August 22, 2010, 23:55 GMT)

I don't agree that this was a magical day of Test cricket. What we saw on this day was the Australian bully boy tactics of sledging the batsmen mercilessly and repeatedly charging the umpires. I don't blame the umpires for not enforcing Law 42; I don't believe they would ever be supported by the ICC if they did. But it must be acknowledged that Australia won this Test through unfair play and should have been criticised in the same way that they were after beating India in Sydney the following summer. Ugly, ugly cricket.

Posted by CricketPissek on (August 22, 2010, 19:29 GMT)

ugh.. fanboys cant feel anything but jealous when someone talks about something other than indian cricket! it's not a bleeding competition! There have been MANY magical tests. stop ruining this article by commenting about IND v whoever. find a more appropriate article please. u can't read anything about anyone other than Sachin or Wasim without cries of injustice or about any great match not involving india or pakistan without the same. These great players and teams deserve better fans than you lot who constantly moan!

Posted by Glam4eva on (August 22, 2010, 18:47 GMT)

Interesting article, but for me that "glorious era of English cricket" ended in Multan more than a year before. I knew then that the 04/05 side would never be the force that they would be again, especially with the injury crises that would cripple the side especially the fab four pace attack (Flintoff, Harmison, Hoggard, Jones). The Adelaide result was unfortunate and devastating but I knew Australia always had it in them to do this to us in their own back yard.

Posted by jawana on (August 22, 2010, 12:51 GMT)

But I think the most magical test was the CHENNAI test 1999 between Pak ans IND. When Pakistan stole a win from no where by some superb bowling. What a game that was...!!!

Posted by NeilCameron on (August 22, 2010, 12:15 GMT)

Kudos must be given to Stuart Clark, whose first innings figures of 34-6-75-3 came during England's 6 (dec)-551. Clark was actually the "Cleaning Lady" for the entire series, taking 26 wickets at 17.03 without anyone actually noticing. He had the best strike rate, the best economy rate and the most wickets, yet operated in the shadow of Warne, McGrath and Lee. To me he was the real hero of that series.

Posted by Charindra on (August 22, 2010, 10:34 GMT)

Credit to Warne for manufacturing "demons that didn't exist". But the author has conveniently forgotten that the who collapse was triggered by a bad umpiring decision against Strauss, which was the opening Warne was looking for. So Warne did a good job, but as always he was aided rather generously by some spineless umpiring.

Posted by popcorn on (August 22, 2010, 8:36 GMT)

The Adelaide Test was the best Test match ever! I watched EVERY minute of the dramatic turnaound till Michael Hussey scored the winning runs. England cannot sleep thinking of that day.

Posted by addiemanav on (August 22, 2010, 6:54 GMT)

the forgotten game-(contd)-the australians were reduced to 30-3..ricky ponting was lucky not to be given out twice before he eventually got out for,0!!he had scored a double in the 1st innings ,even then he was dropped on 0.steve waugh and martyn managed to put some caution to the wind and get a decent partnership before a double strike from tendulkar got india back into the game..at that point of time tendulkar had scored 1 run in the series and had taken 2 wkts..ajit agarkar was the pick of the bowlers that day.he started the downslide trapping his 'bunny' langer for the nth time in the series..when he took his 6th wkt of the innings australia were all out for 196.india had to chase 230 on the last day..they strung some decent partnership,a late flurry from laxman,and a 4 from dravid sealed a famous win for india in australia after 20 yrs..unfortunate as it may seem, no commentator from australia seemd to remember this game while watching that ashes game,and didnt even mention it!!

Posted by addiemanav on (August 22, 2010, 6:45 GMT)

the forgotten game-i remember watching the game live and felt a sense of deja-vu..i knew that something like this could happen because almost similar case happened on the same ground 3 seasons back in 2003-04 when india had beaten australia after aussies had scored 550 in the first innings..that game was a remarkable game..australia ended day 1 at 400-5 and were bowled out for 550 just around lunch..india started well but then lost 4 quick wkts,were reduced to 80-4 when laxman and dravid had an encore of kolkata,as they engaged themselves in another 300+ partnership..india ended day 3 some 75 runs behind australia with 3 wkts in hand and dravid not out on 199..dravid square cut the first ball of the 4th day off macgill to the boundary to bring up his double-ton..these were the signs to come.india folded up shortly but trailed australia only by 30..in the second innings,australians thought they can do the same damage as they did in the 1st innings without any care of situation.(contd)

Posted by george204 on (August 22, 2010, 6:39 GMT)

Oh great, someone just had to remind us of this didn't they. "Magical" isn't an adjective I'd readily choose to describe this video nasty. It was like the bad days of the 1990s had never gone away...

Posted by zingzangspillip on (August 22, 2010, 4:10 GMT)

I sat in the Edwin Smith stand watching all five days of this Test. It's certainly the best day's cricket I've seen live, and I'll always remember it. Channel 9 released a DVD of the game, and this recording will forever remind me of the game, and the beauty of the Adelaide Oval, which will soon be destroyed by grandstands built by greedy administrators.

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