Second Test at Edgbaston: Harmison the last-ball hero as England finally deliver

ENGLAND 407 & 182 AUSTRALIA 308 & 279 England won by two runs
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The Independent Online

And indeed there was. An England victory had appeared to be a formality when Michael Vaughan led his side out at 10.25am on the final day. His team, following Andrew Flintoff's heroics on the 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 Test history when Stephen Harmison ran into bowl from the Pavilion End at 12.10pm. Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz had added 104 to Australia's overnight total of 175 for 8 and the tourists were three runs away from all but retaining the Ashes.

England's bowling throughout the morning had been 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 an Australian 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 wicketkeeper 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.

Vaughan's side had laid the foundations of victory with a first innings of 407, and were confident on Friday after keeping the Aussies down to 308, and by the end of Saturday, with the tourists on 175 for 8, England seemed within reach of victory. And so they were, as it turned out. But only just.

Angus Fraser's highlight

Glenn McGrath had ripped England apart at Lord's, taking nine wickets. Yet during Australia's pre-match warm-up McGrath trod on a stray cricket ball and badly twisted his right ankle. It ruled him out of the Test. England made the most of his absence and Ponting's surprising decision to bowl first, scoring 407 in 80 astonishing overs.