On day one of the second test of the Ashes series, Australia were forced to take to the field without their devastating bowler Glenn McGrath, victim of a freak pre-match injury. His deliveries were sorely missed by the tourists, as England conjured up a huge 407 first innings total at Edgbaston.
Significant contributions to the highest opening day score since World War II were made by Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss, who produced a thrilling century opening stand and dynamic middle order duo Andrew Flintoff and Pietersen, the two amassing 139 runs between them. Could England’s bowlers follow up the mauling on day two?
Australia seemed to have lost some of their swagger as opener Matthew Hayden went for the first golden duck of his career, caught by Strauss after a fine Hoggard delivery. Partner Justin Langer accumulated 82 runs before falling to Jones after four-and-a-half hours at the crease. Ashley Giles did the rest claiming three wickets to leave the tourists on 308, 99 behind. At the close of play, Trescothick started his second innings with 19 not out but partner Andrew Strauss made only 6 before another magic Warne delivery caught him behind his legs. Day three was going to be the moment of truth in this contest with much relying on Vaughan and Pietersen’s batting.
Neither lived up to expectations. Vaughan managed one run, Pietersen 20 but Flintoff experienced his best day in test cricket, first top scoring 73 with his bat to help England to a 192 total and then dismissing Langer, Punting and Gillespie to decimate Australia’s batting order. The tourists finished the day on 175, still 107 runs behind with only two wickets standing.
What should have been a formality on day four turned into a nail-biting finish as Warne edged his team closer and closer to an unlikely victory. He finally went having become the tourists’ top scorer with three runs still required to overhaul England. Harmison summoned up one last effort to KO Kasprowizc caught by Jones. Australia were all out for 270 beaten by two runs in the closest game in Ashes history. All square, the series will now move to Old Trafford on Thursday 11.