The Ashes

Published on November 21st, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Ashes: Top 3 escapes in the historic series

🕓 Reading time:4 minutes

No words can express the joy of winning a Test match. A Test is not won in an over or two; it demands winning sessions, such is the beauty of Test cricket. A team has to drill for hours and days to earn a scintillating win. There have been instances in the past, where a team has been denied a fruitful result after putting in the hard hours.

England’s tour to Australia has often turned out to be eventful, with both the sides all set to lock horns Down Under, let’s take a look at three instances when the losing side saved the day miraculously. The feeling of being so close yet so far is frustrating for any side. Despite doing many things right, they have to settle for a draw and it’s a moral victory for their opponent.

Old Trafford 2005 – Lee and McGrath hang to an absolute cliff-hanger

This was undoubtedly one of the most intense games ever played in the history of Ashes. Both the teams came out all guns blazing in order to take a healthy lead after having won a game each.

After winning the toss, England opted to bat first and did a commendable job in posting 444 runs on the board riding on Michael Vaughan’s century. Warne and Lee accounted for four wickets apiece. In return, Australia managed just 302 runs on the board with Warne being the highest-scorer (90). For England, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles picked six and three wickets respectively. England gained a healthy lead of 142 and the pressure was now upon Australia to deliver.

England declared their innings at 280 for 6, and simultaneously set a target of 423. Andrew Strauss fired a ton at the top while McGrath claimed a fifer. Australia had a mountain to climb ahead of them, chasing 423 in the fourth innings is a mercurial task.

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The visitors started off on a promising note, ending Day 4 at 24 for no loss. They needed a solid partnership from the openers to set the tone for an emphatic win. On the final day, Australia kept losing wickets on a regular basis, but skipper Ricky Ponting stood like a rock at the other end.

Barring Ponting, most of the Australian batsmen floundered after getting starts, which was not helping their cause. The skipper played a tenacious knock and helped his side get close to the total. At 264 for 7, Australia were in troubled waters, but Ponting and Warne stitched a crucial partnership. Ware was dismissed for 34 and Australia were now in a precarious situation at 340 for 8.

Things went from bad to worse when the only recognised batsman Ponting was dismissed for 156 and the target still being miles away. There were four overs left in the day’s play and England just needed to produce that one magical ball, but Lee and McGrath ensured they saved the day for Australia

Cardiff 2009 – Monty Panesar and James Anderson weave magic, but with the bat

Saying that a miracle happened in Cardiff back in 2009 would be an understatement, such was the impact of England’s last pair to save the Test.

Cardiff was all set to make its Test debut and it wouldn’t have been a better platform than Ashes. There couldn’t have been a better script written for Cardiff to make it Test debut a memorable one. There was drama, there were emotions, there was magic.

England started off well to have 435 runs on the board, with three batsmen crossing the 50-run mark and a much-needed cameo from Graeme Swann in the end. Mitchell Johnson was the pick of the bowlers, having struck thrice for 87.

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Australia fought fire with fire and showed no mercy whatsoever with the bat. Simon Katich scored a splendid century while Ricky Pointing plundered another magnificent ton to stitch a match-winning 239-run stand between them.

Marcus North accounted for two big partnerships, first with Michael Clarke and then with Brad Haddin to help Australia gain a staggering 239-run lead in the first innings. They declared at 674 for six with four batsmen scoring centuries. The game was constantly interrupted by rain, but Australia had enough runs on the board to fancy their chances for a win.

At stumps on Day 4, Australia had managed two English wickets and a victory looked on the cards with the English having just 20 runs on the board. On the final day, they kept losing wickets in heap and were delicately placed at 70 for 5. Paul Collingwood fought hard, but Peter Siddle got the better of him on 74 with England still trailing by six runs.

Monty Panesar and James Anderson were out in the middle and none of them expected to do what they did. They overhauled the deficit and gained to decent enough lead to carry England over the line and save a dramatic Test. Anderson endured 53 deliveries for his unbeaten 21 while Panesar confronted 35 balls for 7 not out as England unexpectedly drew the game from imminent jaws of defeat.

Sydney 1995 – Australia save the day 

England were undone for 309 in the first innings with three batsmen crossing the 50-run mark. McDermott picked a fifer while Fleming also had three scalps to his name. After scoring a much-needed fifty with the bat, Darren Gough ran through the Australian line-up, picking six wickets as they were bowled out for just 116.

Australia avoided the follow-on by a whisker. England continued their good run with the bat and declared at 255 for 2. Graeme hick was batting on 98 when England’s innings was declared.

Australia had a target of 449, which looked a massive task by looking at the way their batting floundered in the first innings. Mark Taylor and Michael Slater fired with all cylinders and got centuries at the top. The ton was set, but a dramatic batting collapse steered them to a vulnerable position.

Australia’s middle-order collapsed like nine pins. From being 208 for no loss, Australia were reduced to 292 for 7 in quick succession. Warne and May showed nerves of steel and confronted the pumped English attack with unmatched confidence. Australia’s chances of winning the game took a massive beating and were struggling to save the game. Warne played 59 deliveries for his 36 whereas May showed immense resistance for 10 off 64 deliveries and comfortably drew the game.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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