Harmison delivers ball of his life to snatch victory as defeat beckons

ENGLAND 407 & 182
AUSTRALIA 308 & 279
England win by 2 runs

And indeed there was. An England victory had appeared to be a formality when Michael Vaughan led his side out at 10.25am yesterday. His team, following Andrew Flintoff's heroics on Saturday, required just two wickets to complete a memorable win over Australia and draw level in the five-Test series. Australia, meanwhile, required a further 107 runs.

Yet it appeared as though the world champions were about to pull off one of the most remarkable victories in the history of Test cricket when Stephen Harmison ran into bowl from the Pavilion End at 12.10pm. Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz had added 104 runs to Australia's overnight total of 175 for 8 and the tourists were only three runs away from all but retaining the Ashes.

England's bowling throughout the morning session had been pretty disappointing. Flintoff and Harmison were aggressive but had bowled too short and runs were being conceded at an alarming rate.

But then, with only three runs required for victory, Harmison pitched a short ball on the right spot. Kasprowicz took evasive action and, in an attempt to protect his body, pushed his hands and bat towards the ball. The ball struck him on the gloves and lobbed towards the England wicket-keeper Geraint Jones.

The glovework of Jones has been questioned by many since he dropped two catches at Lord's, yet on this occasion he moved to his left, dived forward and scooped up a low but crucial catch. Kasprowicz looked down the wicket hoping the umpire, Billy Bowden, would not give him out but he saw the finger rise and sank to his knees.

England's fielders and a partisan crowd went wild. Jones was ecstatic, and started gesturing to a section of Australian spectators who had been goading him, while the rest of the team ran around like headless chickens. Eventually they came together, swamping Harmison and Jones.

How England and this Ashes series needed that wicket. Vaughan admitted there would have been no way back if Australia had moved 2-0 up in the series. Defeat would have left England needing to win the final three Tests, the next of which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The win, however, keeps England's dreams of regaining the Ashes alive. Yet for a large proportion of the 110 minutes of play yesterday, this did not appear the case. From the opening over of the day, Vaughan had positioned at least four fielders on the boundary.

The England captain was hoping this tactic would prevent Warne and Lee from gaining any momentum. It failed. Warne struck the first boundary in Harmison's third over, which went for 13. With two or three catchers around the bat and three or four fielders on the rope, there were plenty of singles available, which were gratefully taken by Australia.

Ashley Giles was introduced into the attack but he failed to create chances or check the scoring. Warne and Lee had taken Australia to within 62 runs of their target when Flintoff fired a ball behind Warne's legs. The bails fell off and initially everybody thought the ball had bowled the spinner behind his legs. But replays showed the ball had missed leg stump and the bails had been removed by Warne, whose right boot had struck off stump as he jumped inside the line of the delivery.

Edgbaston erupted and Kasprowicz, a man with a top score of 25 and a batting average of 10.52, stood between England and victory.

Crowds on the Sunday of a Test tend to drift in during the morning session yet 21,000 spectators sat glued to their seats. The England supporters were in fine voice. "Super Freddie Flintoff," they sang in the Eric Hollies Stand as England's talisman roared in, and Lee felt the force of Flintoff when he was struck painfully on the right hand.

Flintoff's ability to bowl had been doubted on Saturday when he injured his left shoulder batting. The all-rounder received treatment before continuing with his innings. It was just as well he did. Lee and Warne - whose 10-wicket haul took his Test wicket tally to 599 - were wreaking havoc at the time and England looked set to be bowled out for an insufficient score.

But a last-wicket partnership of 51 between Flintoff and Simon Jones allowed England to set Australia the sizeable target of 282. Australia looked set to knock off these runs until Flintoff took three wickets in a furious spell of bowling.

Modern Test cricket is no longer a place for spectators who want to sit back, relax and gently while away the hours, and the tension continued to rise as Australia's last pair added runs yesterday.

Kasprowicz clipped Flintoff for four and Giles was slogged for 13 in an over. Drinks were taken with Australia having added 77 runs for the loss of one wicket in 13.2 mesmerising overs.

Harmison replaced Flintoff before returning immediately at the City End, but runs kept coming. England did not help their cause by conceding 40 extras and Simon Jones dropped Kasprowicz at third man when 14 runs were needed.

Flintoff fired the next ball wide down the leg side. It was a no-ball that went for four byes, reducing the target to nine, and many at the ground thought that was it.

Six singles followed before Harmison produced possibly the most important ball of his career to keep this Ashes series alive. Off we go to Manchester.

Manic Sunday: Key moments

* 10.50am Warne and Lee take 13 off one Steve Harmison over.

* 11.08

Warne steps on his stumps with 62 runs still needed.

* 11.40

Four byes off Harmison and Australia's target is now below 20.

* 11.56

Kasprowicz dropped by Simon Jones at third man. Next ball, a no-ball, flies for four byes. Nine needed.

* 12.09

Harmison bowls the 21st over. Lee takes a single, Kasprowicz keeps out the second ball but can't avoid the third. Game over.

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes