It had been 18 years since England had last won the Ashes. Since then, Australia, their fiercest rivals and the world's best test team throughout this time, had prevailed. But this time England were on a roll. They had been unbeaten for two years and had a crop of young, talented players. It was widely expected that the series would be closer and more competitive than usual, but no one could have predicted that it would end so dramatically. At the end of the first test at Lords, English optimism had nosedived. Australia were supposed to be an ageing team, but Glenn McGrath destroyed England's batsmen, except for Kevin Pietersen. Yet in the second test, England took command, batting with carefree abandon, then setting a target that looked beyond Australia's capability when, with just two wickets left, they still needed 120 runs. On the last day, England won by just two runs. During this test match, a new hero was born. Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff scored two fifties and would star again with the ball in the third test at Old Trafford. This time, England needed just one more wicket to win. McGrath and Brett Lee survived the final 24 balls as a watching nation sat gripped. Unpertu
Ian Stafford is a multiple award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster with ten books to his name, including the William Hill Sports Book of the Year shortlisted Playgrounds of the Gods and the bestselling In Search of the Tiger.