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Ashes 2005 - The greatest ever series.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 17, 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 2001.

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 hands down.

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 winners.

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 but dreary.

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!

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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