An epic hundred from Graham Thorpe on the third day gave England a narrow first-innings lead and then all hell broke loose. England, who had come from one behind to level at 1-1, bowled out Sri Lanka for 81 on a turgid pitch. But they still had to chisel out victory and it was Thorpe again who commanded the situation against Muttiah Muralitharan. On that third and final day 22 wickets fell but Thorpe led England home by four wickets.
The sides had slugged it out to 1-1 in the series and in this match no quarter was being given. On the last morning, opener Marcus Trescothick finished off the innings of his career, a blazing 180. England declared without much genuine prospect of bowling out South Africa in two sessions. But Matthew Hoggard swung the ball late and at pace ("wanged it down" in his words) to take 7 for 61 as South Africa crumbled. An injured Graeme Smith resisted, but Hoggard returned to produce one more wang.
Victories against West Indies were not quite cheap currency then and England had only a narrow first innings lead going into the third day. Steve Harmison then announced his arrival as an international fast bowler. He was quick, menacing and never quite the same threat again. With the ball lifting dangerously from the back of a length, West Indies had no clue what do to against such raw pace and were all out for 47. Harmison had 7 for 13 and England went on to win the series.
Going into the last day a draw looked a certainty, as did 0-0 in the series. Michael Atherton had ground out his 16th, slowest and what was to be his last Test hundred to give England virtual parity. Suddenly, after lunch there was a clatter of Pakistan wickets. England needed 174 to win with little time to get the runs. Pakistan slowed the over rate, night descended, England were groping in the dark, but the umpires insisted on playing on and Graham Thorpe, with an unbeaten 64, eked out the winning runs to hand his side the series.
Pick any one from three but this was the start of England's greatest away Ashes victory for 50 years. Having escaped Brisbane with an epic draw by scoring 517 for 1 in their second innings, England reduced Australia to 2 for 3 at the start of the second Test. There was to be no recovery. The fast men gave no relief in Australia's first innings and then Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen both scored hundreds of a contrasting nature to give England a lead of close to 400. Australia resisted gamely but lost a wicket to the last ball of the fourth day and crumbled before Graeme Swann the next morning.Reuse content