Edgbaston 2005: My earliest Ashes memory
WITH Australia taking on England at Edgbaston at the moment for the first Ashes Test of 2019, watching the first day’s play really did bring back one of my childhood earliest childhood Ashes memories.
It was 2005, and Australia looked down and out of the contest at Edgbaston, finishing day three eight wickets down with still 107 runs needed for victory.
Warney and Brett Lee were at the crease, but chances of victory seemed extremely slim.
I was only a young teenager who at that point knew about the Ashes, but didn’t really appreciate the significance of the contest, or its history.
At the time we didn’t have pay TV at my house in the South East, only free-to-air, and the Ashes were only being broadcast on SBS.
Unfortunately for me we didn’t have access to SBS but thankfully my grandparents who lived closer to the Victorian border did, as they got the signal that floated across from interstate.
So as a bright-eyed, cricket loving teenager my Dad and I jumped in the car and headed to grandpa’s to watch day four to see if the Aussies could pull off the unthinkable.
Little did we know what was about to unfold.
I vividly remember sitting in my grandpa’s recliner thinking ‘well, the Aussies really have no chance of winning this test match but you never know’.
I don’t think my dad and grandpa really thought we had much of a chance either.
But we watched as Binga and Warney scratched their way to 10 runs, then 20, then 30, then 40 and all of a sudden victory, albeit still unlikely, seemed a possibility.
When Warney trod on his stumps, we thought that was it. Game over.
But with Michael Kasprowicz joining Lee in the middle, there was still hope.
Could Australia pull off the unthinkable?
Much like the infamous 1982/82 Test match with Jeff Thomson and Allan Border at the MCG, which ended in tragedy for the Australians who fell only four runs short of what would have been an unlikely amazing victory, the Edgbaston Test had the exact same feel about it.
Sadly, the fairytale ending wasn’t to be, and I clearly remember the bouncer being bowled and Kaspa gloving the ball down the leg side to Geraint Jones who took the catch.
Australia had lost by two runs. We’d gotten so close, yet the victory was England’s.
The only time I felt that way since was in the 2013 Ashes when Ashton Agar was batting at number 11 and was caught on 98.
It was the same sinking feeling I remember having when Australia lost at Edgbaston.
What it did do though was show a younger me just how great the game of Test match cricket is, particularly the Ashes.
While the short forms of cricket have become the norm, with the introduction of ODI and T20 cricket, nothing beats the purest form – Test cricket.
In no other format can you play for five days, and the contest be decided by only a few runs.
It’s the ultimate Test of skill, patience, and strategy.
After a poor start to the first Test at the moment, the Aussies will need to bowl well and play some seriously good cricket over the next few days to claw their way back into the contest.
It’s happened at Edgbaston before – let’s hope it’s a happier ending this time.