Ashes 2021/22: England's Five Greatest Moments In Recent Ashes History

The latest series gets underway at midnight Wednesday morning
17:15, 06 Dec 2021

It’s almost that time again. The Ashes, that famous old little trophy which has been the subject of some of cricket’s greatest moments for over a century, will again take centre stage on Wednesday morning as Australia and England come face-to-face in the First Test at The Gabba in Brisbane.

Over the past 20 years the rivalry has been as strong as ever thanks to England’s renaissance following an 18-year Ashes drought. Andrew Flintoff was at the heart of much of that, as the Lancashire all-rounder – who turns 44 on Monday – played a key part in that never-to-be-forgotten 2005 epic.

But there have been other great moments for England since those times. Here’s The Sportsman’s favourite five Ashes memories from the last couple of decades of Test cricket at its most intense.

Flintoff’s Over – 2005

There are a million fantastic moments worth reliving from 2005, from Steve Harmison’s last-gasp wicket at Edgbaston, to Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles’ nail-biting eighth-wicket stand at Trent Bridge, to Kevin Pietersen’s 158 which saw England over the line on the final day at The Oval.

But Flintoff’s incredible over with the ball in the second innings of the Second Test will forever stand out. There has rarely been such a probing seven balls of bowling in the game’s long history, with the inside edge off Justin Langer’s bat onto the stumps being only the start of it as Flintoff gave Ricky Ponting a complete going-over before getting him to nick a full ball to Geraint Jones. It was the moment the Test – and the series – swung in England’s favour.

Freddie’s Run-Out – 2009

England’s Ashes win in 2009 wasn’t quite as memorable as the 2005 effort, but Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar’s against-the-clock batting heroics in Cardiff and a first Lord’s win over Australia in 75 years teed up a tense Fifth Test that England had to win to regain the urn.

They got on the front foot at The Oval, thanks in large part to Jonathan Trott’s 119 on debut, leaving Australia needing 546 to win over the final two days, but with the tourists on 217 for 2 there was an element of doubt beginning to creep in. Again, Flintoff stepped up though.

After Mike Hussey nudged what looked like a tight but comfortable enough single to mid-on, Flintoff stormed in and slung a direct hit rocketing towards the stumps as Ponting stretched to make up the ground. Freddie didn’t need to wait for the third umpire’s decision, standing with arms aloft in jubilation over another pivotal intervention. The Aussies lost three middle-order wickets for 19 runs and were beaten by 197 runs with a day to spare. England had the Ashes back.

Boxing Day – 2010

This was the best England team in some time and probably the worst Australia outfit in decades. Yet still, after a drawn first Test in Brisbane and an Alastair Cook-inspired win in Adelaide, Australia had taken the visitors to the cleaners in Perth.

Day one at the MCG was set to be massive in terms of setting a stall out for the final two Tests, but few could have imagined how emphatic England’s response would be.

On Boxing Day of 2010, the biggest day of the Australian sporting calendar became one to forget as England bowled out the home side for 98. Chris Tremlett and Jimmy Anderson ripped through a devastated Australia batting line-up in less than half a day, and by the time play had finished for the day the tourists were 157 for 0 with Cook and Andrew Strauss playing with incredible freedom. They went on to record massive innings victories in both the Fourth and Fifth Tests to secure a first Ashes win Down Under for 24 years.

The Aussies fell 15 short, despite half-centuries from Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin, the wicketkeeper the last wicket to fall after, yes, a DRS verdict, had confirmed the slightest of edges through to Matt Prior when England had looked far from convinced themselves.

Stuart Broad’s Gasp – 2015

There’s nothing quite like five-day Test cricket. The ebbs, the flows, the sustained periods of intense drama. Of course, occasionally a result is nailed on early, and at Trent Bridge in 2015 England had the Fourth Test – and with it the Ashes series – wrapped up on the first morning thanks to an inspired spell of bowling from Stuart Broad.

With Jimmy Anderson missing out due to injury, Broad grasped the mantle of senior bowler with two hands, skittling Australia for 60 inside 19 overs long before lunch. Broad’s 8 for 15 in 9.3 overs was the greatest stint in a generation, with the visitors finding him to be nothing short of unplayable. Ben Stokes’ sensational catch to dismiss Adam Voges as part of Broad’s spell left even the bowler himself gasping.

Stokes' Headingley Test 2019

The only one on the list not to have come in a series win, this knock was a whole Ashes episode in itself. Coming 38 years after Ian Botham's heroics on the same ground and just six weeks after Ben Stokes had led England to victory in the Cricket World Cup final, the all-rounder produced a stunning one-man effort on the fourth day of the Third Test to somehow win the match for the home side.

After being sent crashing to 67 all out in the first innings, England seemingly had no hope of chasing the 359 set for them to win the match and tie the series. Stokes came to the wicket late on day three with England 141 for 3 and set about digging in at a snail's pace to begin with, and when last man Jack Leach joined him at the crease with the score at 286 for 9 and 73 still needed for victory, Stokes had added 61 from 174 balls.

But in a devastating hour of attacking batting, Stokes belted 71 runs off 55 balls, smacking sixes to all corners as he reduced the Australians to nervous wrecks. His 135 not out was finishes with a flashing drive through the covers to roaring applause from all around at one of the greatest displays of Test cricket ever seen in England.

More of that over the next six weeks would go down pretty well, it has to be said.

ENGLAND 4/1 TO WIN ASHES - BETFRED*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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