Australia dominated but Shoaib downs England
Too many Shane Warne moments to pick from - he had 84 wickets for 2005 before the South Africa series - but his England efforts win by the distance of Hampshire's Rose Bowl from Southampton. He easily out-performed Andrew Flintoff with 40 wickets at 19.92 and 249 runs, but his recognition was diluted by being on the losing side. Didn't deserve the defeat - or the drop of Kevin Pietersen at The Oval - after his back, knee and shoulder-straining efforts, but there was no sulking, kicking, screaming or, thankfully, retiring when it happened. Kissing the wrist band given to him by his daughter Brooke when taking his 600th wicket at Old Trafford was moving and the huge legspinner to remove and confuse Andrew Strauss was beautifully brutal.
The first two sessions at Lord's in July. Australia were dominated, the top three batsmen were struck, including Ricky Ponting's cheek being split by Steve Harmison, and they were all out before tea for 190. Nothing was done about the warning signs. Instead of recognising the problems caused by the brilliant opposition attack and devising strategies to counter them throughout the series, the performance was forgotten with Glenn McGrath's third-session of brilliance and the 239-run win. Many Australian players and supporters point out the narrowness of the Ashes loss to soften the defeat, but the costly misreading of England's bowlers was crucial to handing over the urn.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo
The born-again Shoaib Akhtar. Such calumny was heaped on him - Shoaib was a showboat, selfish, short of breath and a disruptive presence. But against England he demonstrated his staying power, his determination and, not least, his secret weapon. He turbocharged in over the same 30 yards, there was the usual copybook coiling of the shoulders and the astonishing amount of lean-back but, at the end of it, a 60mph delivery from the world's fastest bowler. It got into the nervous system of the England batsmen who had no way of knowing what was coming next: the Scud or, the equally cruel, Sidewinder.
The Freudian Id and the man-behind-the-mask are long past their use by date. Still, Greg Chappell's finger gesture at Kolkata was an abomination, an unguarded moment that exposed a mean streak beneath the suave exterior. His credentials as a player and captain were that of a colossus. And from what we have seen of him so far it ought to be no different as a coach. His stern persona as much as his exhortations on excellence project him as the ultimate rational man, one sure of his authority. Which made it all the more shocking that he should respond in kind to dire provocation.
Anil Nair is managing editor of Cricinfo in India