Remembering the Opening Two Matches of the 2005 Ashes Series

Last Update on: March 29th, 2023 at 03:54 pm

In the world of cricket, few rivalries are as iconic and intense as that between England and Australia. The teams have been playing each other since 1882, with the first-ever Test Match between the pair taking place six years earlier. It was the test in 1882 however that saw the Ashes created.

Back then, Australia defeated England in a single test match, a match which Australia shockingly won. British newspaper The sporting Times wrote that it was the death of English cricket, and that “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” The following winter, the English headed down under, and captain Ivo Bligh promised that he and his teammates would bring the “ashes” home.

Of course, no rivalry is complete without a trophy to win—in this case, it’s the coveted Ashes Urn. It’s a symbol of true cricketing greatness, and for a period of time in the early 2000s, it seemed like the tiny trophy belonged solely to the Australians. That all changed during the 2005 Ashes series between England and Australia.

This year, over 140 years on from the Ashes’ creation, cricket’s oldest rivalry will reignite as Australia head to England in an attempt to retain the urn for the fourth consecutive time. Online bookmakers cannot split the pair ahead of the first test, and they can see the series going either way, as you can see here: But with Australia dominating once again in recent years, just as they did at the turn of the millennium, we take a look back to 2005, when England finally wrestled the urn away from their fiercest rivals.

First Test – Lord’s

The 2005 Ashes series got underway to much fanfare. England had just given a great account of themselves in the prior One Day series, and they had fans dreaming that the urn may remain on English soil for the first time since 1987. The Aussies had won the last eight Ashes series with an aggregate score of 28-7, and their time was full of superstars.

They had the best opening batsman in the world in Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden, as well as the best number three in captain Ricky Ponting. Their bowling attack consisted of the incomparable Glenn McGrath, paceman Brett Lee, and the maverick Shane Warne, perhaps the greatest spin bowler that’s ever lived. In Kevin Pietersen however, England had unearthed a hidden gem, and they hoped that their South African-born batsman could take the fight to the visitors.

England got off to a great start at Lord’s bowling Australia all out for 190. But then, McGrath took over. His sensational spell left England 21/5 and with true humiliation a very real possibility. Pietersen came in and smashed 57 to reduce the arrears. But after that, it was all Australia.

Michael Clarke hit a brilliant 91 in the guests’ second innings, with his team hitting 384 runs before being bowled out. The bowling attack would then clean up, thumping the hosts by 239 runs and securing a 1-0 series lead.

Second Test – Edgbaston

England knew they needed to improve ahead of the second test, and they had a slice of luck when the brilliant McGrath suffered an injury warming up on day one. Australia would win the toss and elected to field courtesy of the overcast conditions, but England would make Ricky Ponting pay for his decision. Big scores from Marcus Trescothick, Kevin Pietersen, and Andrew Flintoff would give the hosts a score of 407.

The Aussies gave a great account of themselves in trying to match England’s total. Thanks to opener Justin Langer’s 82, they finished 308 all out, some 99 runs behind. And then Shane Warne took over.

The legendary leg spinner whittled England all out for 182, picking up figures of 6/46 in the process. The visitors needed 281 to win, a very reachable total. Flintoff turned swung the match back in England’s favour, picking up four wickets and leaving the tourists at 137/7, with just their tailenders left to bat.

However, the Australian bowlers performed heroically. 42 runs from Warne and 43 from Brett Lee left them within touching distance of the total. Then, Kasprowicz – who was unbeaten on 20 himself – was caught out by a bouncer from Steve Harmison. He nicked the ball to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, who wheeled away in celebration much to the delight of the home faithful.

England had done it! They picked up the victory by just two runs in one of the tightest finishes in the history of cricket. And that was a sign of things to come throughout the series.

Australia would cling on for a draw at Old Trafford in the third test before England took the lead with victory at Trent Bridge. That set up an all-or-nothing decider at The Oval with the Ashes on the line and that too finished as a draw thanks to the great British weather, handing the Urn back to England for the first time in 18 years.