A place in history: Lord's and the Ashes
Sunday 17 July 2005
There seemed all to play for on Saturday night when Australia were 190 for 2, chasing 440. On Sunday, the rest day, it rained on the uncovered pitch. On Monday Hedley Verity (right) said: "I shouldn't wonder if we don't have some fun today. It might turn a little." On the way to the ground he ran over a black cat and would not continue until he found its owner. The Yorkshire left-arm spinner was unplayable, taking 14 wickets in the day, 15 for 104 in the match. England, who won by an innings and 38 runs, have not won at Lord's since - but they lost the Ashes.
1953: The great draw
Perhaps still the most famous draw of all. On the fourth evening, Australia reduced England, needing 343 to win, to 20 for 3. Trevor Bailey went home to Westcliff-on-Sea. On the train up the next morning, Bailey was "narked" that the papers had written England off. He joined Willie Watson at 73 for 4. At lunch Bailey ate a three-course meal. Together the pair took England slowly to safety. Both were out, Watson for 109, Bailey for 71, just before the close whereupon the recalled 42-year-old chairman of selectors, Freddie Brown, made the game safe. A nation breathed again; that August England regained the Ashes.
1975: David's day
At the age of 33 the grey-haired county stalwart, David Steele (right), was picked at the behest of new golden boy captain, Tony Greig, to resist Australia's fast-bowling menace. He went into bat at 10 for 1, got lost on the way to the pitch and looked, in the resonant phrase of the correspondent, Clive Taylor, "like a bank clerk going to war". He made a brave 50, Greig a dashing 96, the game was drawn and England regained their self-respect. The match also saw cricket's first streaker, a Merchant Navy cook called Michael Angelow. Steele became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, England lost the Ashes.
1981: Botham's nadir
When Ian Botham, England's captain, attempted to sweep Ray Bright's first ball, he was bowled behind his legs. It completed a pair and when he walked to the pavilion, MCC members greeted him in silence. "Not one looked me in the eye. Ever since I have treated MCC members with contempt," he said in his autobiography. The members had already disgraced themselves by berating the umpires for (wrongly) refusing to resume play after bad light. The game, a draw, was a sea change in so many ways. Botham resigned the captaincy, performed his miracles, and MCC began to enter the 20th century.
1989: Exit Gower stage left
On the third evening, David Gower made himself a hostage to the headline writers. England were 58 for 3, 184 behind, and the England captain stormed out of a press conference to go to the theatre to see "Anything Goes". Everything, of course, went. Although Gower scored a hundred, his seventh against Australia, England were well beaten by Terry Alderman's swing. Allan Border became the first Aussie captain to win twice at Lord's, a young hitherto under-achiever called Steve Waugh took his undefeated series aggregate to 350, Australia took a 2-0 lead and the dark years began.
1993: Slater's kiss
In mid-afternoon a swashbuckling 23-year-old right-hander in his second Test reached his maiden Test century. Michael Slater's delight was instant and instinctive. He beamed, did a little jig, removed his helmet and kissed the Australian badge. Badge kissing is tedious now, but Slater (left) was the first and was utterly engaging. The way Australia went about their business - the first four would have scored hundreds had Mark Waugh not been too ambitious on 99 - showed that it was not enough just to win but to win resoundingly. Mike Atherton was run out for 99 and never did make a Test hundred at Lord's.
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