Seven years ago today, England beat Australia by 2 runs at Edgbaston, Birmingham, to square the 2005 Ashes series. It was a crucial result for England, given that they had been thumped by 239 runs in the 1st Test at Lord's, despite bowling Australia out under 200 in the first innings of the match. Just how crucial that Birmingham result was, will be driven home if you think about how high England's hopes had been at the start of the 2005 Ashes of beating Australia for the first time in eighteen and a half years.
It was, a win achieved because of an Umpiring mistake. Think about it. Chasing 282, Australia had been reduced to 137/7 and then 220/9. The 10th Australian wicket added 59 runs. Given the 18 year run of defeats, and the hammering at Lord's, had the Umpires got that decision right, and given Kasprowicz not out, one can only imagine England's situation had they gone 2-0 down in that series after the first 2 Tests.
Kasprowicz was not out as per the Laws of Cricket on that occasion, as the ball hit his glove on his way to wicket keeper Geraint Jones, but the glove was not in contact with the bat. It was a dismissal which would not have survived DRS, had a review been available to Australia, let alone if it had been the ideal situation in which the Third Umpire had the authority to correct an obvious umpiring mistake.
But lets leave DRS to one side for now. That Edgbaston was one of the great Tests of the decade. It began well before the first ball was bowled when Glenn McGrath stepped on a cricket ball on the morning of the Tests. To make matters worse, Australia, with characteristic confidence, went into the Test wicket Kasprowicz in place of McGrath, won the toss, and put England in. Marcus Trescothick, one of England's most underrated Test openers, set about the Australian bowling with glee. England brought up their 50 in the 11th over of the match, and by the time Shane Warne had bowled almost a third of Australia's 79 overs to bring Australia back in the game, England had reached 407 all out. That Warne had to bowl nearly a third of Australia's overs and take nearly half of England's first innings wickets showed how disastrous Ricky Ponting's decision to bowl first was.
When Australia batted in response, the depth of England's bowling was on full display. Australia's remarkable confidence was on display as well, with disastrous results for the visitors. Mathew Hayden was caught at short cover first ball - possibly the only time in Test history that a Test opener has been caught at short cover against the first new ball, let alone first ball. Ricky Ponting was caught at short fine leg sweeping against the break at Ashley Giles after scoring a breezing 67. Damien Martyn was run out going for a cheeky run. Australia were bowled out for 308.
Shane Warne then continued his solitary effort to bring Australia back into the game. He ran through the English line up taking 6/46, leaving the visitors 282 to win. Andrew Flintoff stopped it from being a Warne led rout, hitting 73 out of England's 182 all out batting at number 7. Warne finished with 10 of the 20 English wickets that fell at Edgbaston.
The great leg spinner was not done yet. Come in at number 9, with Australia 7/137, chasing 282, Warne made 43 battling runs before falling hit wicket to Andrew Flintoff to leave Australia 220/9. The visitors would fall short by 3 runs, England would win by 2.
It was a Test Match which England won by the skin of their teeth despite the fact that a depleted Australian side played poorly. Edgbaston gave the first clue that Jason Gillespie's career as a top level pace bowler was nearing its end. But perhaps it should also have been a signal, much like that entire series, that England were not yet good enough to surpass Australia. The 2009 Ashes would be another story. By then Australia were not quite the team they were for most the 2000s.
In the Warne-McGrath era, Australia were the best team in the world. It took one of them to be injured to produce a great series and arguably the greatest Test finish of the 2000s.