I have been a cricket fan since 2001. The first Ashes game that I witnessed was the first Test of the 2002-03 Ashes.
This match featured many great moments for the Australian cricket team. The match was a nightmare for the visiting English team.
Fast bowler Simon Jones ruptured his ACL in brutal fashion. Jones slid in the outfield and his knee got stuck in the GABBA outfield.
The talented quick was grimacing in pain and with that unfortunate moment, his tour ended. Jones was injury-prone throughout his career and only ended up playing 18 Test matches and eight ODIs for England.
Australia was at their dominant best during this series. They only lost the last Test match.
The visiting English only beat Australia once throughout that season and they did not win a tour match during that tour. England lost five of their tour matches and drew four matches.
Australian cricket was so strong that its first class teams and tour teams beat international teams. I was fortunate to witness such amazing cricketing talent during my childhood.
Since my time of viewing the Ashes, the Aussies have won four Ashes (all of which were at home). Their rivals have won five Ashes (four at home and one in Australia).
Australia has won 24, lost 13 and drew eight Ashes Test matches during that time. When I reminisce about the Ashes, feelings of nostalgia, legendary moments, players, history, drama, controversy and brilliance engulf my mind.
Some of the greatest moments in cricket history have come from the two oldest rivals facing each other in the longest format of the game.
In these 18 years of watching the Ashes, I have been lucky to have witnessed some brilliant cricketing moments.
Here are my ten favourite Ashes moments from the last 18 years (or nine Ashes series).
1) Glenn McGrath’s brilliant catch
Glenn McGrath is one of the all-time great fast bowlers. However, in the second Test of the 2002-03 Ashes, McGrath pulled off a moment of brilliance in the field.
England were struggling in their second innings and were looking to stabilise their innings through Alec Stewart and eventual man of the series, Michael Vaughan. Vaughan slog swept Shane Warne.
The ball went high and McGrath covered good ground. The pacer took a brilliant diving catch and regathered the ball in one hand. Amazing bit off fielding and Australia ended up winning the game by an innings and 48 runs.
2) Steve Waugh’s last-ball hundred
Steve Waugh a. k. a., Tugga, was a tough character. He displayed immense character throughout his career and retired cricketing great. This innings came at a time where Steve Waugh’s selection was under question.
Tugga scored a brilliant 102 off 135 balls hitting 18 fours. Adam Gilchrist rotated the strike off the second last ball of the day.
Steve Waugh had one ball to get a ton, and he did it with a slash through the offside to bring up another Test match hundred.
Waugh also reached 10,000 runs in his career. Waugh received a huge round of applause from his home crowd. Unfortunately, Australia lost the match by 225 runs but won the 2002-03 Ashes, 4-1.
3) The second Test of the 2005 Ashes
One of the best Test matches ever. The match featured some brilliant cricket and sportsmanship.
Australia lost by only two runs.
Australia was in serious trouble. They only had two wickets in hand and needed over 107 runs to win heading into the fourth day.
England could smell victory but two last-wicket partnerships over 40 featuring Shane Warne and Brett Lee, and Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz gave England a few concerns. Umpire, Billy Bowden gave Kasprowicz out.
Billy Bowden believed Kasprowicz edged the ball down the leg-side but replays showed he did not get bat on ball. Brett Lee was on his haunches and Andrew Flintoff consoled him. It was a beautiful display of sportsmanship to mark the end to a wonderful game of cricket.
4) Shane Warne’s bamboozles Andrew Strauss
My favourite Shane Warne delivery. Warnie spun webs around many batsmen and Andrew Strauss became another victim.
He bowled a ripping leg-spinner into the rough. The ball pitched way outside off-stump and spun all the way to hit leg-stump.
Andrew Strauss put his pad out. Strauss was trying to pad the ball away. Warne bamboozled the English opener.
Andrew Strauss stood at the crease, looking back and forth at the pitch and the stumps. Shane Warne pulled off another bit of magic.
Warne was a wizard with the ball in his hands. This delivery to go along with the ball of the century and the Shivnarine Chanderpaul wicket in 1996/97 at the SCG are my favourite Shane Warne deliveries.
5) Kevin Pietersen’s Ashes-winning 100
Some of the best batting under pressure that I have seen. The 2005 Ashes series was his first Test series, and Pietersen ended up as the leading run-scorer for the series.
Pietersen came in with his team in trouble at 67/3. Glenn McGrath was on a hat trick and bowled a brute of a delivery first up to Pietersen. Pietersen survived and had a bit of luck throughout the innings.
Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne dropped him. Pietersen, smacked the ball to all parts. Kevin Pietersen was brilliant.
The South-African born batsman smacked 15 fours and seven sixes. England ended up with a 341-run lead and Australia had to chase that target scoring at a rate of 19 an over.
A skunk-haired Pietersen saved the game and won England the Ashes for the first time in 16 years. Pietersen scored his 158 runs off 187 balls, at a strike rate of 84.89. Brilliant batting from a newcomer.
6) Gilly obliterates England at the WACA
Adam Gilchrist was one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket that ever graced the gentleman’s game. Heading into the WACA test, Gilchrist had scores of 64 and a duck in the series. He did not bat in two innings.
In a recent masterclass on BT Sport, Gilchrist mentioned that a change in mindset resulted in this innings coming about.
In the first innings, Monty Panesar dismissed Gilchrist for a duck. Ian Bell took the catch. Gilchrist mentioned that if he had another crack at Panesar, he would get caught on the boundary instead of being caught inside the circle.
Gilchrist smashed the England bowling attack to all parts, hitting 12 fours and four monstrous sixes. He scored 102 not out of 59 balls at a strike rate of 172.88.
It was innings that nobody will forget. Tony Greig and Bill Lawry went nuts in the commentary box. That innings was special. Gilly was great to watch.
7) The Cardiff miracle
England’s number 10 and 11 batted out the innings to save their side from the jaws of defeat. The pair were outstanding. James Anderson batted as a night watchman. Monty Panesar came to the crease after Paul Collingwood’s dismissal.
Collingwood batted for nearly six hours in a knock off 74 off 245 balls at a strike rate of 30.20. Collingwood left the field in disappointment, thinking the last wicket pair could not survive that long.
They proved his doubts wrong. The last pair survived 11 and a half overs and batted for over an hour.
Anderson ended up with a score of 21 off 53 balls and batted for 69 minutes. Panesar batted for 37 minutes scoring 7 off 35 balls. The English tactics felt the wrath of Australian captain, Ricky Ponting.
The Australian captain was not pleased with 12th man, Bilal Shafayat and England physio, Steve McCaig. Shafayat and McCaig ran on the field twice and spent a bit of time out on the field.
Ricky Ponting accused England of time-wasting. The result was final, and England escaped with a draw. There was class, skill, patience, high levels of focus, grit and determination displayed by both sides.
In the end, England drew the match and won the 2009 Ashes, 2-1, giving Andrew Flintoff a fairy-tale farewell.
8) Ryan Harris’ peach of a delivery to dismiss Sir Alistair
Ryan Harris’ delivery to remove Alastair Cook was a sight of beauty. It was the first ball of the second innings.
Harris pitched the ball on a fullish length and the ball straightened enough to hit the top of off stump to dismiss Alastair Cook.
The crowd and the Channel Nine commentary team went nuts. Alastair Cook got beaten by a peach of a delivery. Alastair Cook got beat by a beauty from Mitchell Johnson in the first innings, but Harris’ delivery was brilliant.
Sadly, Ryan Harris could not play many matches for Australia. He was quite injury-prone throughout his career. Australia won the Test match by 218 runs and whitewashed England for the second time in five series, 5-0.
9) Mitchell Johnson’s legendary series
Mitchell Johnson’s finest performance in a baggy green. Johnson destroyed the English batting team. Johnson picked up 37 wickets from five Tests.
He averaged 13.97, at a strike rate of 30.59, and an economy rate of 2.74. Johnson picked up 3 5 wickets and had best figures of 7/40 in the second innings. Bouncers, yorkers, reverse swing, extreme pace, Johnson had it all.
Former England batsman, Kevin Pietersen mentioned the English dressing room being fearful of facing the handlebar-moustached, tattooed, left-arm quick.
It was an amazing series for Johnson, and he rightly won the man of the series for his outstanding performance.
10) Stuart Broad destroys Australia at Trent Bridge
Australia collapsed like a pack of cards. Stuart Broad helped England dismiss Australia for 60 in 18 and a half overs. I watched it live and I could not believe my eyes. Australia lost the match by an innings and 78 runs with two days and two sessions to spare.
England regained the Ashes. The chief destroyer was Stuart Broad. Broad picked up eight wickets for 15 runs off 9.3 overs.
Broad kept bowling nice lengths and Australia kept edging away. He was brilliant that day. He got the ball to swing and move. He was close to being unplayable that day. He got rid of five of Australia’s top order including the wickets of captain, Michael Clarke and vice-captain, Steve Smith.
Broad cleaned up Australia’s tail with ease, and Australia never recovered from that brilliant spell of swing bowling. Broad picked up his career best figures at his home ground, Trent Bridge.