Thrilling Ashes battles that ran us short on fingernails
WITH the Ashes hostilities set to resume with the first Test starting at Edgbaston on Thursday (8pm AEST), we take a look back at five of the most thrilling Australia v England battles.
First Test, July 10-14, 2013, Trent Bridge
Australia coach Darren Lehmann pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the selection of hitherto unknown spinner Ashton Agar. But while his bowling didn't inspire any headlines, it was his record-breaking 98 batting at 11 that caught the eye. His innings, and his partnership with the late Philip Hughes, gave Australia a narrow first innings lead. Eventually chasing 311 for victory, Australia's 10th wicket partnership of Brad Haddin and James Pattinson nearly got Australia home. Man of the match James Anderson had the final say though, and England won by 14 runs.
Fourth Test, December 26-30, 1982, MCG
Australia's propensity for fumbling in the chase was never more evident here. Chasing 292 to win, Australia's ninth wicket fell at 218. Enter Jeff Thomson, the consummate No.11. While Thomson stuck around, batting partner Allan Border poked and prodded his way to victory. The pair batted for more than two hours before Thomson edged a ball to second slip. The ball was dropped, but first slip Geoff Miller snaffled the rebound. England were victorious by three runs, still one of the closest wins in Test history.
Fourth Test, December 26-30, 1998, MCG
Another seemingly innocuous chase for Australia, another win for England. Thoroughly outplayed in the first three Tests, England's fightback was built around Alec Stewart's 107 and an inspired spell from inexperienced pace bowler Dean Headley, who finished with 6/60 in Australia's chase of 175.
Fifth Test, January 10-15, 1987, SCG
Australia won by a seemingly emphatic 55 runs in this match but the closeness of the contest didn't come from Australia and England, but from Australia and the clock. With only a few minutes remaining before pulling up stumps on the final day, all-rounder Peter 'Sounda' Sleep bowled John Emburey to claim his fifth wicket and Australia celebrated a morale-boosting victory in a series where England were dominant down under. If you told anyone at the SCG that day that England wouldn't win another series until 2005, they would have laughed at you.
Second Test, August 4-8, 2005, Edgbaston
The match that turned the tide for England. After looking the better team throughout, England's bowlers suddenly found it difficult to take the wickets of Australia's tail. Shane Warne and Brett Lee were inching Australia ever closer to the target of 282 until Warne trod on his own stumps, leaving Lee and Michael Kasprowicz to do the rest. With three runs to get, Kasprowicz fended a shorter ball from Steve Harmison to wicket-keeper Geraint Jones down the leg side. England won the match, the series and haven't lost a home Ashes series since.