On this day, England's last pair James Anderson and Monty Panesar managed to survive for 11.3 overs and helped their team pull off a thrilling escape on the final day of the first Ashes Test against Australia in Cardiff. However, the real hero was Paul Collingwood who came up with a monumental 245-ball 74 and found brilliant support from the lower middle-order and tailenders. The home team managed to survive and went on to win the series 2-1.
WHAT A START TO THE SERIES
After skipper Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat first at Sophia Gardens, almost every England batsman contributed and the hosts ended up with a solid first innings total of 435. Alastair Cook was dismissed for just 10 and both Strauss and Ravi Bopara got out in their 30s. Kevin Pietersen (69), Paul Collingwood (64) and Matt Prior (56) all scored fifties but not one of them could go on to make it big.
The likes of Andrew Flintoff (37), Anderson (26), Stuart Broad (19) and Graeme Swann (47*) all chipped in and England got a formidable score. For Australia, left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson and offspinner Nathan Hauritz picked up three wickets each, while Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle took two each.
The surface at Sophia Gardens was brilliant to bat on and the Australian batsmen made the most of it. A total of four Australian batsmen scored hundreds, while Michael Clarke too chipped in with a score of 83 as the visiting team amassed 674/6 (decl) in their first essay, gaining a lead of 239.
Australian openers Phillip Hughes (36) and Simon Katich (122) got their team off to a decent start by adding 60 runs for the first wicket. After Hughes was dismissed by Flintoff, captain Ricky Ponting walked in at No. 3 and put on a huge partnership of 239 runs for the second wicket. In the process, both Katich and Ponting brought up their centuries. Michael Hussey (3) was the only batsman who was dismissed for a single-digit score.
Ponting was knocked over by Panesar after scoring 150. Clarke missed out on his ton by 17 runs but Marcus North (125*) and Brad Haddin (121) didn't. After Collingwood got rid of Haddin, Australia declared their innings just before the tea on the penultimate day.
England had to bat out the remaining overs to save the Test but the Australian bowling attack dismantled their top-order and reduced them to 70 for 5. The home team had already lost Cook, Strauss, Bopara, Pietersen and Prior and the 1-0 lead in the five-match series looked certain for Australia. That's when Collingwood came up with the most determined innings of his career. He displayed tremendous courage and batted for almost six hours.
The right-hander found vital support from Flintoff who played out 71 deliveries for his 26 runs. Collingwood's fifty came off 167 balls, and he was then joined by Broad who managed to hold on for 47 balls. However, it was Swann who dug his heels in and scored 31 off 63 to provide solid support to Collingwood. The two batted out for almost 20 overs before Hilfenhaus pinned Swann right in front of the stumps. Then Siddle got the all-important wicket of Collingwood, with England still trailing by six runs.
The Australians threw everything but Anderson and Panesar simply refused to give up. Anderson then collected consecutive boundaries off Siddle to erase the deficit, which meant two overs would have been deducted if one of them would have got out. However, it didn't come to that as Anderson and Panesar managed to play the required overs and pulled off an astonishing escape.
Just like the first Test, the entire series turned out to be a thrilling affair. England won the second Test at Lord's and the third match ended in a draw. Australia however made a comeback by thumping England by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test and levelled the series 1-1. In the final Test at the Oval, Broad, Swann and Jonathan Trott starred for England as the home team emerged victorious and won the Ashes 2-1.
After the end of the first Test, Flintoff announced that he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the series. The Oval Test turned out to be his last international match for England as he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in 2010.