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Lord's Ashes classics: 2005

In the first of a new series looking at classic Ashes series Tests at the Home of Cricket, takes the short trip back to 2005 and the start of a momentous summer...

Let battle commence. Rarely has an Ashes series reached such a sustained level of hype prior to the first ball being bowled as it did in 2005.

Lord's had never before been the venue for the opening Test of a five-match or more Ashes series, but with the top two sides in the world primed for battle after a brilliant see-sawing set of ODIs (which included a tie in the NatWest Series Final at the Home of Cricket) it seemed appropriate that the eyes of the cricketing world were fixed on St John's Wood.

Retrospective accounts have venerated England's aggression in the first session of the series a defining point in the whole summer, though Australia's thumping victory in the match suggests it has been overhyped.

But, with the Home of Cricket arguably as excitable as it had ever been; the crowd well-and-truly pumped up and the Members perhaps a touch more partizan than normal, England were irresistible.

Boasting one of the most potent pace attacks in their history, Michael Vaughan's team flew into the tourists. Steve Harmison hit Justin Langer on the elbow, his opening partner and Australia's bully-in-chief Matthew Hayden on the head, and drew blood from the tourists' captain Ricky Ponting when he was struck on the grill - beaten for pace by a nasty bouncer.

Harmison took the crucial wicket of Ponting, caught at slip, as England reduced their opponents to 97/5 by the first interval - Simon Jones picking up two wickets - and despite some lower-middle-order resistance, finished them off for just 190. So far so good for 'new England'.

Master of the slope

But perhaps no bowler has better exploited the famous Lord's slope than Glenn McGrath. Returning to a Ground where he was already etched on the Honours Boards twice (figures of 8/38 eight years previously and 5/54 in 2001) Australia's most successful seamer quickly made Marcus Trescothick his 500th Test victim.

England's top order proceeded to fold like the proverbial pack of cards, crumbling to 21/5 as the fervent atmosphere of the morning session quickly evaporated. What England would have given to be 97/5...


There was a trump card in England's pack though, a brash, South Africa born debutant with a technique (and skunk hairstyle) very much of his own. If there was pressure on a man who had made stacks of runs in his first six months of ODI cricket and forced the premature end of Graham Thorpe's 100 Test career, Kevin Pietersen didn't show it.

Shane Warne was twice slog-swept into the stands as Pietersen announced himself to a Ground which - to date - has seen him make 1,228 runs, including five centuries, with a swashbuckling knock of 57.


Pietersen's resistance kept England in the game, dismissed for 155, but at that stage in 2005, it just seemed unthinkable that Australia would lose such an important Test.

With the pitch flattening out, a stylish partnership of 155 between Michael Clarke (91) and Damien Martyn (65) took the sting out of England's surge before Simon Katich made an invaluable 67 with the tail which took the lead to 419.

Chases of more than 400 in Tests can be counted on one hand, but England gave the faithful a glimmer of hope thanks to a partnership of 80 for the first wicket between Trescothick and Andrew Strauss.

But after the tireless Brett Lee removed Strauss, caught and bowled, Lord's was given one last chance to witness a masterclass from McGrath and Warne.

Warne will always be remembered as one of the all-time-greats who 'failed' to get their name on the Honours Boards at the Home of Cricket, but he never bowled better than in this in north London.


England slumped to 119/5, despite another magnificent Pietersen knock (he finished unbeaten on 64) with Warne dismissing three of the top five.

But his chances of a deserved five-for were dashed as McGrath completed a man-of-the-match performance by taking four of the last five wickets to fall - England's final four batsmen all dismissed for a duck.

Australia's unbeaten run at Lord's was extended to an astonishing 71-years (though it would be eventually broken four years later), England's batting brittle and the tourists' batsmen gaining a foothold after a rocky start to the summer. Everything looked rosy in Rocky Ponting's garden...

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