The Ashes: No more singing at Edgbaston in Test

The scoreboard said it all after Australia fell just short of England’s total in the Edgbaston Test during the 2005 Ashes series.Most Australian cricket fans can remember sitting in front of the telly willing a victory against all odds on the second Sunday of August in 2005. But Edgbaston itself, filled with partygoers, had more morbid air by the time Michael Kasprowicz was given out to end one of the greatest Test matches.It was a remarkable experience from the time I heard Glenn McGrath was injured outside the ground on the Thursday morning until the Barmy Army burst into “You’re not singing anymore” minutes after England had levelled the Ashes at 1-all. The four days had provided the ebb and flow that only Test cricket can provide and almost the perfect ending for Australia. DAY ONE The drama began before a ball was bowled with McGrath doing his ankle and Ricky Ponting winning the toss and bowling. Why he did that I still don’t know.England got off to a great start, making 100 before losing their first wicket, with Marcus Trescothick belting his way to 90. England slumped to 4-187 after an Australian fightback. And then it was the Kevin Pietersen (71) and Andrew Flintoff Show, as they made the ugliest 68 in Test history including six fours and five sixes.The first day finished with the English tail wagging, taking their total to 407. DAY TWO Tight security, a problem for the whole Test, meant I missed Matt Hayden’s early dismissal.Edgbaston, which holds only 22,000, has a reputation for having the loudest crowd in England, one which was in full voice as Australia were bowled out for 308 – 99 short of the home side’s first-innings score.The crowd rubbed it in by singing “God Save Your Queen”, seemingly every five minutes. A Shane Warne special got rid of Strauss and there was hope for Australia, though it had lost every session on the first two days. DAY THREE The third morning belonged to Australia as Brett Lee silenced the crowd by ripping through the top order and Warne followed up, eventually taking six wickets.He missed a hat-trick when England were 9-138, allowing Flintoff to explode. He finished on 73 after some huge hitting and England had 182 and a 281 lead.It was a total that was enough to scare but surely not enough to win – especially when we were 0-47.Enter Flintoff. Langer and Ponting were gone in one over.Edgbaston rocked for the afternoon session, which finished with the wicket of Michael Clarke, bowled for 30, and Australia 8-175. DAY FOUR The Poms are great winners and the stands were full well before play started on Sunday. With 107 runs needed on the fourth morning, the walk to the ground was more of a funeral march for the Aussie fans. “It would be great if we can hang on for an hour and give them a scare,” said one of the fans. “That would be great,” I replied with all the enthusiasm of a boxer behind on the cards and facing the final round.The Fanatics started the countdown from ball one and soon it was “99 to go, 99 to go,” which was no good for one of the guys in front of me dressed as a convict.He had taken England to win without a run being scored in a sweep run by 20 men dressed in black and white. Believing in the impossible is hard but supporting your country is easy, and at the end of each over, myself and other Australians in the crowd got to their feet to show support for Warne and Brett Lee’s (43 not out) efforts.Warne stood on his stumps to make it 9-220, and a feeling of relief came over the ground. But as the target went below 50, then 30 and 20, my convict mates started with “I can’t believe we are going to lose.”Every run was a dagger as it got into single figures. But then Steve Harmison got one to rear and it appeared to come off the glove of poor old Kasper, who made 20.Bedlam. England by two runs. I bowed my head. I had believed but reality had caught up with me.”What’s the matter, mate?” The broad English accent didn’t help my humour as one of the convicts gloated.It was then the Fanatics turned to cop some humble pie. “You’re not singing anymore,” came the chant.
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