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Eighteen years. Jaromir Jagr Jersey . Eighteen years wed waited. An inferiority complex wrapped in a late-order collapse. Rain, warm beer, crap cricket teams. All our national jokes. Its the way you tell em, and these gags had long run out of gas.But hold on. Things had been changing. Under Michael Vaughans suave captaincy, England had just turned up a series victory in South Africa. It was early 2005, and the win had to date been their grandest achievement, eclipsing even their exploits in winning all seven home Tests in 2004.It was June 2005. Australias cricket team were here again. Perhaps this time they wouldnt use the place as their personal playground.We were in a great place at the time; wed gone through the previous summer unbeaten. Wed only lost one in our last 15. When youre on a roll, its very difficult to get knocked out of that, even if youre up against a great Australian side. Steve Harmison, England fast bowler To vanquish the Australia of Warne, Ponting and McGrath, England would need their stars to shine. But they would need something else, something other. Implausibly, they were about to find it: ready-made, skunk-haired, utterly at odds, at first glance more inmate than team-mate. Hed just hit three ODI hundreds in South Africa against the land of his birth. It was figured he could play. We hadnt seen the like. Then at Bristol, in the first pre-Ashes ODI, Kevin Pietersen absolutely nailed it.Like so many others, I was converted by Botham in 1981. It left me with a taste for hero-worship, and a capacity for believing that an unexpected England victory might always be round the corner. On June 19, 2005, my brother and I were walking Offas Dyke. As we came into Hay, we said to each other, Wouldnt it be brilliant if we turned the corner, there was a pub showing the match at Bristol, and England somehow won? We turned a corner, there was indeed a pub showing the cricket, and England, thanks to an awesome 91 off 65 balls by Kevin Pietersen, posted an odds-upsetting victory. We both felt as deliriously happy that afternoon as we have ever felt watching cricket, sharing in the others joy, and in our sudden hope for the forthcoming Ashes series - which we could sense emerging like a crumpled-winged butterfly from an 18-year cocoon. After years of vainly trying to fill a Botham-shaped hole, we finally - thanks to KP - had our new Ashes hero. Tom Holland, historian That ODI series would be drawn, a leg bye off Ashley Giles left pad tying the finale at Lords. Three weeks later they would meet there again.First TestLords, July 21-24It was an unbelievable atmosphere walking through the Long Room that first morning. Normally youd have a couple of people sitting in the corner thinking, Oh no, theyve picked him again! This time it was standing room only. We knew then that this was different. We set the marker down that morning and bowled them out cheaply. Then Glenn McGrath brought us down to earth! But at the end of that first day you just knew - this was going to be an absolute humdinger.Harmison A marker indeed. That morning Harmison was unmanageable. He hit Langer on the elbow, Hayden on the helmet, and Ponting so hard in the face that his helmet grille ricocheted into his cheekbone and sent him to hospital for corrective work (though only after play had finished).Australia were all out for 190 and England were padding up before tea. It was McGraths turn now. When he was finally hauled off England were 48 for 5 and GD McGraths figures read 13-5-21-5.Despite the sapping disappointment, Englands supporters had seen something. Twenty wickets for a start. And something else, glistening among the debris: a rough, diamante-encrusted natural on debut. As McGrath cut through the top order, Pietersen had gotten massively forward, found ages for his shots, and looked immediately Englands best equipped batsman. On the second morning hed also launched McGrath into the Lords Pavilion. Normal people just didnt do that kind of thing.Australia 190 (Harmison 5-43) & 384 (Clarke 91, Harmison 3-54); England 155 (Pietersen 57, McGrath 5-53) & 180 (Pietersen 64*, McGrath 4-29) Australia won by 239 runsSecond TestEdgbaston, August 4-7What happened next will never be forgotten. After a match like this the clichés would arrive faster than a gloved 90mph bumper. It had more untouchable moments - 400 in a day, the great Harmison slower ball, Warne to Strauss, Vaughans run-out of Martyn, the whole last morning - than any other Test in history. Not forgetting a touch of high farce, when McGrath stood on a ball in the pre-match warm-up and was ruled out with a twisted ankle.After scores of 0 and 3 at Lords, Andrew Flintoff had taken himself away for a few days with the family. Hed been tense at Lords, overwrought. Thereon hed resolved to play naturally. His captain, Michael Vaughan, saw a different man turn up at Birmingham.Captaining Fred, I wanted him to be right for that moment on the pitch. I wanted him to arrive on the Thursday feeling good. I wanted him feeling like he had someone who was supporting him, someone who was going to allow him to play with freedom, attack the opposition and just enjoy his cricket. You didnt need him to be thinking too much, you just needed him to deliver, so lob him the ball get a wicket or two. Tell him which length, hed do it. Bowl to the field, hed do it. Go out to bat and whack it, hed do it. He got the crowd going. Theres not many players who could get the crowd going like he could and thats what happened at Edgbaston. Vaughan Flintoff began by playing with dash and daring as England smashed 407 on the first day. Other runs were plundered by Trescothick, Strauss and Pietersen, but Freds audacity stole it.It was a nice pitch to play on. I hit five sixes that day. Lee bowled a couple short and I pulled him twice for six - blind at one of them, didnt even know where it was. I used to have a technique of getting deep in my crease and to someone like Lee it works well because it puts you directly into his trajectory. Sometimes, the biggest sixes, youre not really trying. Flintoff On day two, the summers other poster boy, The Blond, watched his sides top order bat complacently, and caught the mood with a shocking heave himself. Australia finished 100 behind.England were 25 for 0 when Warne took the ball. Going round the wicket to Strauss, he rags a looping, revolving bomb so far outside Strauss off stump that he goes to leave it, but it grips and rips past his leg on the outer side, going behind his body and crashing into his leg stump. The Ball Of This Century.The way we attacked them on that first day was brilliant, and wed had to because of that man Warne. The more press coverage, the more electric the atmosphere, and the increasing profile of the series all meant that one man was going to get better. That was Warne. He ended up getting 40 wickets, but he got them at over three an over. We didnt nullify him, but we did compete. Harmison Warne galvanised the baggies, and as day three took its absurd shape - lets call it Mad Saturday - Edgbaston loyalists were coming to terms with an England collapse of vintage proportions. At least Fred was still there.His second knock showed his class. England were 131 for 9 with a shaky lead of 230 when he was joined by Simon Jones. The width of Flintoffs bat stood between Aussie victory and the sad tragicomic capitulation of English cricket. No pressure then.When Warne finally got him for 73, Flintoff had hit four more sixes, making it an Ashes record nine in the match. His breathtaking straight six off Lee went fizzing over the BBCs commentary box. The next highest score in the innings was 21. Fred was starting to dictate the course of the match, to bend it to his will, as only the greats can.To the evening session. Chasing 282, Australia had cruised to 47 for no loss off 12 overs when Flintoff was summoned. Id just got 70-odd and I was asking Vaughany every minute to get me on to bowl. I was flying and I just kept saying, Get me involved, get me involved… I just felt I could get them out.England went to work. As the close approached Australia were seven down, 107 shy. Only Clarke remained, magnificent in the murk.Id thrown everything at him. Every question I had asked of Michael Clarke, he had answered them. I thought I should try something different. HarmisonIt turned the game. Harmy, hes got this slower ball and he keeps wheeling it out, you can see it from slip when hes going to bowl it. And I thought, Here we go. Because he comes up and his fingers are split on the ball. Slower ball! Its the best one hes ever bowled, it was perfect, its even faded in to bowl him. It was amazing, amazing. FlintoffSunday, August 7, 2005. The packed house settled back to watch the procession. How quickly the mood would change. Through Warne and Lee, warriors both, pilfered runs were nabbed - stolen singles, spliced boundaries, thick edges - until, with 62 needed and the crowd hushed, Warne bizarrely back-heeled his stumps. Last man Kasprowicz joined Lee, who wasnt going anywhere.Everything seemed to be going against us, especially when Simon Jones dropped Kasprowicz. And Lee was unbelievable that day - every part of his body got hit but he still had the courage to stay there and try and see them home. Harmison Suddenly, imperceptibly, when Lee edged one past leg stump Australia were one hit away. Harmison ran in again. Short one. Kasprowicz, whos looked immovable, ducks underneath it but cant drop his hand in time, the ball kisses the glove (detached from the bat handle!) like a slobbering drunk and loops to Geraint Jones, who pouches it inches from the turf. Cue pandemonium.The old press box at Edgbaston was a tin-pot affair, small and sweaty. It could mean a good atmosphere, though. In many instances, the old canard about journalistic impartiality was cast aside when Harmison won that lucky caught-behind shout against Kasprowicz. And the Aussies working to impossibly tight deadlines for the other side of the world could finally press send on one of the three versions theyd been preparing. The whole thing was pure electricity. Lawrence Booth, Wisden Almanack editor Amid the chaos Flintoff (seven wickets; 139 runs; immortality) locates Lee, on his haunches away from the hub, and offers him a word. It would remain between the two of them, and yet heard around the world. A thick edge from oblivion, but now England were flying.England 407 (Trecsothick 90, Pietersen 71, Flintoff 68, Warne 4-116) & 182 (Flintoff 73, Warne 6-46); Australia 308 (Langer 82, Ponting 61, Flintoff 3-52) & 279 (Lee 43*, Flintoff 4-79) England won by two runsThird TestOld Trafford, August 11-15Michael Vaughan had told us he was in good form with the bat. His critics pointed to the three times in four knocks that hed lost his off stump as evidence that he wasnt. Glenn McGrath had already trimmed him up at Lords, and now Pidge was back, hobbling through a match that had clearly come too early for his busted ankle. On the first day the two would square up again. After a nip-and-tuck start and with Vaughan on 41, McGrath got one to nip back and clatter into his poles for the fourth time in the series. But wait…What a moment. McGrath bowled Vaughany, and then for it to be given a no ball, that was brilliant, wasnt it? McGrath came back for that Test match - he shouldnt have played. It was more through desperation. And Vaughany went on to get a great hundred and set it up for the rest of us… Flintoff Vaughans 166 laid the foundation for his bowlers to extract sufficient reverse swing from a scuffed surface, as Simon Jones left Australia scrabbling to avoid the follow-on. Only Warnes eye for a ball prevented his team being asked to have another go for the first time in two decades.With a chunky lead already, England took the game away from Australia chiefly through Strauss first Ashes hundred (there would be more). It left Australia 10 overs and a full day to bat out the draw.On that final Monday the gates at Old Trafford had to be closed at 8:30am. Queues snaked around the ground, thousands deep. Those turned away trudged back home to join the 7.7 million people watching on TV.Look, its one of the all-time great series thats ever been played. I remember being here and seeing what sort of impact it had on the whole country. I remember driving to the ground at Manchester for the last day of that game, when we had to bat out the day to save the Test match, and the streets were lined for kilometres with people around the ground who werent able to get in. Theyre memories of things you dont see every day. Ricky Ponting, Australia captainMy greatest Ashes memory is seeing 20,000 people locked out of Old Trafford. I thought there was a bomb scare when I arrived at Old Trafford on that day. I arrived at 9.30, went on the balcony and the ground was full. As I said to the boys, This is special. We went out of the dressing room just to warm up and the whole ground lifted and stood to their feet to cheer us. Vaughan It was a day of tough cricket, and England were relentless. When in late afternoon Clarke fell to a booming inswinger from Jones and Gillespie went for a duck, Australia were seven down. Warne joined Ponting and was able to hang around for an hour, while Ponting, with his Ashes scars and his raging spirit, would not budge.His 156 - the only chanceless hundred of the series - was a masterclass of its kind, and when he was finally strangled down the leg side, he could barely summon the strength to drag himself off. McGrath and Lee were left with four overs to survive.But England were spent. Back-to-back Tests had exhausted them. Those final six balls from Harmison were easily negotiated, and for Lee, indomitable at Edgbaston, this was sweet redemption.In the chaotic mix of emotions that met the finale, Michael Vaughan gathered up his players. Amongst them was Stephen Peters, a sub fielder for most of that last afternoon.Vaughan called everyone in to a huddle on the pitch and he said to everyone - Ill never forget it - he said, Look at that balcony over there celebrating a draw. Theyd never have done that in the past. We go to Trent Bridge and well turn them over there. From that moment on I knew we were winning that series. You could see the belief in the team. It was great to be part of it, if only very briefly. Stephen Peters England 444 (Vaughan 166) & 280-6dec (Strauss 106, McGrath 5-115); Australia 302 (Warne 90, Jones 6-53) & 371-9 (Ponting 156, Flintoff 4-71)Match drawnFourth TestTrent Bridge, August 25-28Vaughan was right. England would dominate Nottingham, right up until the death, when Warne - whod asked for 170 to defend and got 128 - nearly ripped up the formbook.Andrew Flintoff made his first Ashes hundred here, and when he quietly raised his bat to the terraces - who needs fanfares when you can hit balls into the road - it seemed to announce the arrival of a great cricketer. The innings was relatively un-Fred-like, his 132-baller containing just the one six. His time at the crease with Geraint Jones, who arrived at 241 for 5 and saw Fred depart 177 runs later, was perhaps the pivotal partnership of the series.Freddie and I had an incredible connection when we were batting. We were good mates and I think the way we played connected well. Freddie was very strong driving down the ground. You knew about it when he hit it back at you! Whereas I was more square of the wicket, cuts and pulls. We complemented each other and that probably allowed us to get a few more balls in areas we liked. When we got into it we were pretty fluent. Geraint Jones Australia may have got away with it at Manchester but Nottingham was not so forgiving. Jones claimed another five-fer, and this time the follow-on was enforced.Second time around Australia were going well at 155 for 2 when Martyn dropped one into the covers and called Ponting through for the single. It was a tight one, the cover fieldsman swooped and Ponting was caught short.Emerging from the mob of Englishmen and hoisted skywards was a Durham reserve called Gary Pratt, sub fielder extraordinaire and the unlikeliest hero of the summer, not that Punter thought so, labelling Englands regular use of a sub an absolute disgrace and shouting his mouth off at the England dressing room as he stomped back to the pavilion. Duncan Fletcher, Englands inscrutable coach, was moved to remark: You want to take a run to a cover fielder and get run out, whose fault is that? England required just 129 to win. No gimme.I was batting with Kevin, under control and Lee came on and just did us for pace. My bat was here and off stump was cartwheeling back. In hindsight and through the clarity of not being in the position I was in then, we were going to win but we just got a bit carried away. We were seven down. We only needed 10 runs, and then Hoggy went out there and played a blinder. He hit that cover drive off a full toss! And then Giles just turned one to win. I couldnt watch, I think I was punching Straussy, just to vent something... FlintoffIve worked professionally as a sports journalist for 14 years. Only once have I been unable to read my notes afterwards because my hand had been shaking so much: the Trent Bridge Test. It was the only Test I covered that summer and even then on the Saturday I had to report on West Brom v Birmingham. On that sunny Sunday evening, it seemed I was witnessing yet another England capitulation as Warne transformed the unspoken niggle of They could mess it up, I suppose into the full-blown panic of Not a-f***ing-gain. But then came the proof that this was a different England, a side with backbone and spirit, that did have the guts to edge over the line. When Giles squeezed that two I was almost weeping with relief. Ive never dared look up the copy I filed.Jonathan Wilson, Blizzard editor England 477 (Flintoff 102) & 129-7 (Warne 4-31); Australia 218 (Jones 5-44) & following on 387 (Langer 61, Katich 59, Harmison 3-93) England won by three wicketsFifth TestThe Oval, September 8-12And so, after 24 days of the greatest battle in sport, it all came down to the last afternoon of the last day of the last Test. Four acts of riotous drama fell to this. England needed to bat out the final day and the Ashes would be theirs. Australia had to take ten wickets by late afternoon and knock off the deficit. It was that simple. Such a day deserved something special. Australians casting glances at Warnes slashed spinning finger saw him stroll out on that final day, custom-made flares billowing over his red-striped tenpin-bowling boots, with 35 wickets already in the series.Make no mistake, 2005 was great for Australian cricket as well; everything about it. It was the kick in the backside Australian cricket needed. The whole series did a lot to take Ashes cricket to another level. Ponting The day begins edgily. Strauss had already been Warned the day before, and after a skittish start Vaughan nicks off. With Ian Bell following next ball, Kevin Pietersen rocks up with the score 67 for 3.The hat-trick ball from McGrath is a brute that KPs gloves dodge by the width of a diamond bracelet. Not out. Three overs later, Lee bowls Pietersen a full one that he edges to first slip where Warne, who hasnt dropped a catch all summer, grasses a simple chance.At the Vauxhall End Warne has hunkered down for the day. To his first ball after the drop, Pietersen hits Warne for six. Four balls later, same over, he does it again, same place over mid wicket. This is outrageous behaviour.But for all his audacity England are in strife at lunch. KP is still there on 35, somehow surviving a fearful pre-lunch assault from Lee, but England are five down and only 133 ahead.The game is so finely balanced that one false move tips it inexorably the other way. So this is what happens: Lee bowls three overs in his post-lunch spell, of which Pietersen faces 13 balls. Those balls are dealt with thus: 2, 2, 0, 6, 1, 0, 2, 6, 4, 4, 0, 4, 4.In six overs since lunch KP moves from 35 to 76. One of those fours is executed by flat-batting a rising thunderbolt from outside off stump straight past the scarpering umpire at waist height. It should be defended. It really should be blocked. Yet its returned faster than it had arrived, which was, incidentally, 96.7mph.It was the perfect, bizarre, unconventional innings for that stage of the game. Watching it, I felt entertained, but I was also thinking, What you doing? Going for a draw, pulling them past the umpire! Sometimes when the ball gets faster your bat gets faster and everything gets faster. You start hitting, you just go for everything, out of fear, out of adrenaline. I think thats what was happening with Kevin that day. He was unbelievable. He started to get going and once hed started he couldnt reel it in. I was counting it down, but you just didnt know what was happening… Flintoff Its an unhinged masterpiece. His hundred comes up in 124 balls, and at tea England are almost there, seven down and 227 ahead.Its almost party time. When Pietersen launches his fifth and sixth maximums, the ground takes on a carnival feel. The players relax, Pietersen hits another - make that seven - and gets out, Giles plods a happy fifty and the crowd chant We wish you were English to Warne, who doffs his floppy white to the four corners of London town. Its all rather surreal.Australia face four balls, take the light, the umpires dither and the crowd sings on oblivious - after two months of heart-wrenching drama the bathos works just fine. Finally. At around 6:30pm on September 12, 2005, Michael Vaughan walks gingerly over to that funny little urn, smiles, and screams.Fred, meanwhile, went off to find a beer and cigar…England 373 (Strauss 129, Warne 6-122) & 335 (Pietersen 156, Warne 6-124); Australia 367 (Hayden 138, Langer 105, Flintoff 5-78, Hoggard 4-97) & 0-0 Match drawnEngland win the series 2-1 Ron Duguay Jersey . -- Devin Hester is done returning kicks in Chicago. Mike Gartner Jersey . While hell be dialed in to that tournament on a course he loves, you can forgive him if his eyes glance down the calendar just a bit, towards April. http://www.rangershockeyonlineshop.com/ ... ey-jersey/ . Bjorn, who had a 36-hole total of 8-under 134, made a testing six-foot putt to save par on the 16th and a birdie on the 17th before bogeying the final hole after a misjudged approach shot. American Kevin Streelman was in second place after shooting a 69. TAMPA, Fla. -- Geno Thorpe scored six of his 18 points in the final 3:45 and tied a career high with five assists to help South Florida beat Rider 70-65 on Saturday night.Redshirt freshman Tulio Da Silva scored a season-high 13 points, including 12 on 4-of-4 shooting in the second half, Malik Fitts added 11 points and Troy Holston scored 10.Holston hit a 3-pointer and then Da Silva scored five in a row in an 8-0 run that gave USF (2-1) the lead, 63-60, for goood with 6 minutes left. Walt Tkaczuk Jersey. After a 3-pointer by Xavier Lundy gave Rider (2-1) a 60-55 lead with 8:13 to play, the Broncs made just 2 of 11 from the field and committed seven turnovers. Rider made 3 of 20 (15 percent) from 3-point range.Lundy had 16 points and nine rebounds and Jimmie Taylor added 15 points for the Broncs. ' ' '
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