Edgbaston Test stirs 2005 memories

England and Australia face each other in the third Test at Edgbaston starting on Wednesday, a decade on from when the Birmingham ground staged one of the most thrilling contests in Ashes history.

Back in 2005, England – who at the time hadn’t won an Ashes series since 1986/87 – came to Edgbaston 1-0 down after a defeat in the opening match of the series at Lord’s.

There was a drama even before a ball was bowled at Edgbaston, with Australia paceman Glenn McGrath ruled out on the morning of the game after injuring himself treading on a stray ball on the outfield.

That was the start of an extraordinary sequence events that culminated with Australia No.11 Michael Kasprowicz caught behind down the legside by wicket-keeper Geraint Jones off fast bowler Stephen Harmison as England, who had been on course for a comfortable victory, won by just two runs.

The sight of England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff putting a consoling arm round the shoulders of not out tailender Brett Lee, who had so nearly guided Australia to a stunning success, became one of cricket’s great enduring images.

England went on to win the series 2-1 in what was widely regarded as one of the most thrilling campaigns, let alone Ashes series, in more than a century of Test cricket.

This year, England have arrived at Edgbaston on the back of a 405-run thrashing by Australia at Lord’s that left the five-match series all square at 1-1.

But 2015 has also seen Alastair Cook’s side follow every Test defeat they’ve suffered with a victory and the England captain said the lesson of a decade ago, when he was a fledgling batsman with Essex, was that anything was possible.

“Whether I was watching live or the highlights, it was one of the great summers of cricket,” Cook told reporters at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

“It would be a fantastic anniversary of those ten years to win here after losing at Lord’s.”

Australia captain Michael Clarke, one of only two survivors from that celebrated match along with England batsman Ian Bell who will be playing this week, had a less rosy view.

“I don’t have a great memory. I remember it more because of the footage I’ve seen over the years,” said Clarke.

“I remember that tour and it was certainly one of the best I’ve been involved in during my career.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was a wonderful series played the right way, with tough cricket on the field.”

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