Thursday, August 4 it was. The second Test at Edgbaston was about to start in a few minutes. Lying on the ground was Glenn McGrath. He had accidentally put his foot on the cricket ball and slipped only to find that he had injured himself. What a boost for England.
It was time for toss now and the Birmingham crowd was very eager about it. Ricky Ponting once again won the toss and decided to bowl first with sheer, hoping that the Englishmen would tremble once again.
But, as soon as Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick marked their guards, they started attacking the Aussie bowlers. By lunch, England were 132-1 and scoring at almost five an over. Ponting very soon was able to know that his decision worked against him.
Since 1991, no team had lost a Test at Edgbaston bowling first and, going by the statistics was the reason Punter choose to bowl first. But, as it often happens, England wobbled after the lunch, and now were 183-4 when Michael Vaughan gave a catch straight into the hands of Brett Lee.
Trescothick had got out on 90 and Ian Bell got out for the third consecutive time for a single figure. Next in was Andrew Flintoff, who too was under immense pressure. He played a few poor shots in the start, though he got boundaries from all of them.
It looked like he would soon be in the pavilion but something contrary to it happened. Surprisingly, Flintoff started hitting his typical shots and looked in super touch now. Kevin Pietersen didn’t sit quietly either, as he too played his shots in a superb partnership.
The afternoon session yielded 155 runs and England were finally bowled out for 407 in a single day, becoming the first team since 1938 to do so against the men from Down Under.
The Aussies started quite egregiously and the highlights of their inning were Justin Langer’s 82 and Ponting’s counter attack, that he so often did. Ponting was dismissed for 61, as Australia finally got out for 308, with England getting a 99-run lead.
As the sun was about to set, Punter gave Shane Warne the cherry to get something. Fortunately for him, Strauss was immediately dismissed as Warne staggered the opener with a ball that turned so stunningly that he couldn’t just believe it.
Saturday morning brought more trouble for England as wickets kept falling, and the hosts were 75-6 now and the lead was just 174.
Flintoff was to be the hero again. But before he could do anything, while attempting a cut shot to Warne, he somewhat injured his right arm. Edgbaston was losing its hopes now as Freddie was playing in serious pain.
No one knows how he was able to overcome this plan, but Flintoff was back to business as he single handedly took the English total to 182 hitting some seriously massive sixes. Australia were set a target of 282.
As soon as Freddie was given the ball, he bowled Langer and Aussies were 47-1 now. A peach of a delivery in the same over was too good even for Ponting, and England were flying.
Edgbaston got obstreperous now and the crowd was cheering every English delivery. Simon Jones came to the party now as Matthew Hayden was out off a stunning catch by Trescothick diving to his left.
Matthew Hoggard didn’t sit back and got Damien Martyn immediately as Bell finally contributed something by taking a catch that required some serious fielding skills. Ashley Giles, the lad from Warwickshire started to take wickets now, and got three of them.
Australia had almost lost the match now. An extra half-hour was taken by the umpires hoping to end the match that very evening. But in the final over of the day, Michael Clarke was out to a slower ball yorker - a gamble that paid off perfectly for Steve Harmison.
At stumps, the Aussies were 175-8 needing 107 more to win. Sunday, August 7. Australia were almost out of the match. Warne and Lee had some other plans though.
They started batting and kept batting for quite some time. When Warne got out, hit wicket, his partnership with Lee had yielded 45, leaving Michael Kasprowicz to do some work along with the lad on the other end.
They both batted and batted and batted for so long that Aussies needed just three to win now. Hopes were almost over, Edgbaston was silent and so was the English team. But what happened next sent them beserk.
A short ball was bowled by Harmison, they all appealed. Billy Bowden’s finger was up, and Kasprowicz was OUT. It seemed like time had stopped.
As soon as everyone was back to their senses, the roar that came out can’t be explained. Harmison was the hero of the moment. It was just an ordinary attempt by the Durham lad that paid off.
England won by just two runs. The best part of the match being the moment when Flintoff rather than celebrating, first went to Lee and shook hands. It was one of the greatest Test matches ever played.
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