When India beat Australia in 2001, that series was called the 'greatest ever series.' That crown must now belong to the Ashes 2005.
England's victory over Australia, thus regaining the
Ashes after nearly two decades is the best thing to
happen to cricket in a long, long time.
It is never healthy for one team or individual to
dominate a sport for so many years as it leads to
stagnation and a sense of inevitability.
Australia have proved supreme both in Tests and ODIs since they
beat the West Indies in 1995. They had lost just one
Test series in that period, to India in India in
In fact, those three Test matches had earned the tag
of 'greatest-ever series' which now must in all
fairness be relinquished to the one just concluded.
Though England could not be beaten after they had won
the fourth Test at Trent Bridge by three wickets,
there was a twist to the tail.
As per tradition, in the event of a drawn series, the
team that held the Ashes would retain them. That meant
England needed only a draw in the fifth and final Test
at the Oval to wrest them back.
It was perhaps the first time in British history that almost the entire nation was praying for five full days of rain!
There were so many memorable moments in the series but
a few stay in the memory. Perhaps the one that summed up the wonderful spirit the series was played in came at the end of the
Edgbaston Test, won by England by just two runs.
Even as his teammates were going wild with joy, Andrew
Flintoff had the decency and good grace to place a
consoling hand on the shoulder of non-striker Brett
Lee. If the ICC decide to constitute a 'Spirit of
Cricket' award, England's ace all-rounder deserves it
Then there was the demonic bowling of Shane Warne who
strove single-handedly and almost succeeded in keeping
England's batsmen at bay.
It is nonsense to say he 'dropped the urn' when he
muffed that easy slip chance from the bat of Kevin
Pietersen on the final day at the Oval. If not for his
heroic efforts, England would have been runaway
The other great memory is Pietersen's amazing
counter-attack in the same innings. Traditionally,
saving a Test match meant shutting up shop. But over
the last decade there have been very few dreary draws
and Test cricket has been the richer for that.
Certainly the two draws in this series at Old Trafford
in the third Test and then at the Oval were anything
In fact it was only rain that saved Australia at
Manchester. England could well have been 3-1 up going
in to the Oval if so many hours had not been washed
out. Remember, Australia's last wicket pair were at
the crease at the end of that pulsating Test match.
Still, all these twists and turns (and Glenn McGrath's
twists and turns of his ankle which meant he missed
two Tests) is what made the series so memorable.
On a personal note, this writer feels a certain sense
of satisfaction, having predicted England would win
the series in these very columns. Believe me, I had to
face ridicule from my Australian friends and even some
in England thought I should have my head examined!