England leveled the Ashes series in one of the most sensational Cricket Test matches ever seen. England event will be the second Test by just two runs, the smallest margin in the history of tests between the two countries.
The match ended after three and a half days of nail biting cricket as the game swung first one way and then the other. Ricky Ponting the Australian captain won the toss and surprised just about everyone in the ground by asking England to bat first. And bat they did, to their highest score in the series so far, all out for 407 with Trescothwick top scoring on 90.
There had been a sensation just before the match started when Australia's main strike bowler injured himself in the warm up when he accidently stood on a cricket ball. He was carted off to hospital with a real concern that he had broken his ankle. As it turned out there was not a break but there is a real danger he will miss the third test in Manchester.
Australia started their reply badly when Hayden was out for a golden duck, out first ball, but after good spells and bad, Australia were always out for 308, Justin Langer top scoring on 82, giving England a priceless lead of 99 runs. But any joy the packed and noisy Birmingham crowd had swiftly blown away as England collapsed to 182 all out, and it would have been a lot worse had Freddie Flintoff not memorably waded into the Australian bowlers, sending them regularly out of the ground before falling to Shane Warne, the last of six victims for him. Flintoff top scored on 73 and this left Australia to make 282 to win the match with plenty of time, and fair weather forecast.
Australia began their run chase well, putting on 47 for the first wicket, and already the crowd and the backers were getting nervous. But it was that man Flintoff again who took the wickets of Langer for 28 and Ponting for 0 who turned the tide back towards England. And just when it seemed that England must win and square the series, Warne waded in with 42, Brett Lee an inspired 43 not out and Kasprowicz with 20.
Australia were within 2 runs of victory, one decent blow, when Kasprowicz was controversially given out by the New Zealand umpire Bowden, worn off his glove, yet his hand did not appear to be in contact with the bat at the time. The crowd went wild, the English players dashing around as if a synchronized bee sting had occurred.
Everyone lucky enough to be present will remember this match until their dying day, and everyone agreed, English and Australian alike, that this was a truly memorable occasion. Freddie Flintoff justifiably bagged the man of the match award.
The bandwagon now moves on to Old Trafford Manchester for the third test where every seat has been long sold out. Test cricket has even pushed the start of the English Soccer season into the background, no small feat in England, and if the remaining three Ashes matches are anything like the first two, we are all in for a huge treat.
Betfair took more than £ 26 million on this match alone, another new record amount for a single cricket match. You can still get a free $ 30 bet when you open an account with Betfair.com. All you need do is enter the promotional code 6CHE3VPWJ when prompted.
As for the second Test match at Birmingham, it would be easy to write a fat book on that game alone, and still not include every dramatic twist and turn that we saw. Cricket was the winner, no doubting that, and everyone is on tenthhooks for the third Test. Latest news reports suggest that Brett Lee could miss the match due to a knee infection and it still looks likely that McGrath could miss the match too.
If that happens Australia will be without their two main strike bowlers, and the English batsmen, suddenly confident after levelling the series, will be in a buoyant mood. The country awaits, something it has not done with anything like this amount of interest and anticipation since Ian Botham's heroes of 1981.