The 2015 Ashes start in Cardiff on Wednesday, and England will be hoping to get revenge on Australia for the 5-0 whitewash they suffered in the 2013/14 series.
However, it is also ten years since what was possibly the greatest Test series ever, let alone the best edition of the Ashes. Back in 2005, the Three Lions beat the Aussies 2-1, despite their opponents being one of the best cricket sides of all time.
Michael Vaughan’s team weren’t complete underdogs before going in to the series, having won 14 and drawn three of their 18 tests before the first ball was bowled at Lord’s. However, despite an amazing start, which saw Steve Harmison inspire them to bowl out Australia for 190, almost all of that momentum could have been destroyed by a galling 239-run loss in the first Test – the scene for ‘That Ball’ by Shane Warne.
This momentum would all come back when Glenn McGrath got injured stepping on a ball in the warm up at Edgbaston. With the pace bowler having taken nine wickets in the first test, this was a huge boost to the English batsmen, who had been almost visibly quaking in their boots when facing him. Vaughan and co. took advantage of this confidence boost, hitting over 407 runs on the first day of the Test, before skittling the Australians for 307. A quick-fire 182 in their second innings left a very defendable 281 runs to win the game with.
They very nearly threw it all away though, reducing Australia to 137-7 only to scrape the victory by two runs thanks to a dubious decision from umpire Billy Bowden.
This set up the third Test perfectly, and England were spine tinglingly close to taking the lead in the series. It looked like being a repeat of Edgbaston at Old Trafford, but this time Brett Lee and a now fit Glenn McGrath managed to bat out for the draw with a little help from Ricky Ponting’s 156.
That only put off defeat though, with Trent Bridge being the scene for one of the best moments of English sporting history. Nerves nearly ruined it again, after a brilliant Simon Jones five-for, who was sadly injured later in the match, set up the victory. However, the unlikely duo of Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles saw Duncan Fletcher’s men home with three wickets to spare after a typically English collapse nearly cost them an ostensibly simple 129-run chase.
It couldn’t end there though, could it? It isn’t without good reason that Ponting’s side are regularly named as the best of all time, and they very nearly fought back to draw the series despite the momentum, crowd, and even weather going against them. In the end it was only a ‘South African’ with a dodgy haircut who could stop them, with Kevin Pietersen smashing 158 off 187 balls on the final day to take it away from the Baggy Greens. Even the final moments had drama, with umpires Koertzen and Bowden walking out to lift the bails in the drizzle that had ended up finishing the match.
Ian Bell and Michael Clarke are the only two players left from that historic series, but could they and their teammates create a similarly intoxicating competition on Wednesday? Again England have built some momentum, and again Australia are seen as the best in the world after recently beating South Africa. Could Ben Stokes be the new Andrew Flintoff, or Steve Smith the new Ponting? We’ll see on Wednesday.