A look at other close finishes in Test history as Australia win Ashes opener

A look at other close finishes in Test history as Australia win Ashes opener

Pat Cummins led Australia to a two-wicket victory in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

The Australia captain held his nerve in a heart-pounding chase that left Ben Stokes and his England team distraught.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at other close finishes in Test history.

West Indies beat Australia by one run – Adelaide, January 1993

Curtly Ambrose
Curtly Ambrose bowled West Indies to victory (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Curtly Ambrose inspired the all-conquering Windies to victory on Australia Day. The hosts rallied from 74 for seven, chasing 186, but Ambrose had the final say, finishing with a 10-wicket match haul when he debatably flicked the glove of last man Craig McDermott with Australia needing just two to seal a series win.

England beat Australia by two runs – Edgbaston, August 2005

Steve Harmison
Steve Harmison appealed the wicket of Michael Kasprowicz (Rui Vieira/PA)

“Jones…Bowden…Kasprowicz the man to go, and Harmison has done it.” Richie Benaud welcomed a legion of new cricket followers in arguably the greatest Test in the greatest series of all. Australia had recovered from being seven wickets down with plenty to get to set up a grandstand finish. But Michael Kasprowicz fended a Steve Harmison bouncer to Geraint Jones and umpire Billy Bowden raised his crooked finger in a thrilling climax. Almost lost amid the frenzied finish is the fact Kasprowicz should not have been given out as the ball brushed the glove with his hand off the bat. Now, it is regarded as a mere subplot in the narrowest win – in terms of runs – in Ashes history.

England beat Australia by one wicket – Headingley, August 2019

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes celebrated victory over Australia four years ago (Mike Egerton/PA)

A matter of weeks after his World Cup final heroics against New Zealand at Lord’s, Ben Stokes produced what may gone down as his magnum opus with an unbeaten 135 which helped England reel in 359 to complete their highest ever run-chase in Tests. An unbroken 76-run stand with last man Jack Leach, who resisted Australia for 17 balls in his one not out, had its fair share of drama but England completed a scarcely-believable victory. Australia, though, retained the urn after a 2-2 series draw.

West Indies beat Australia by one wicket – Barbados, March 1999

Brian Lara
Brian Lara was the West Indies matchwinner (Rebecca Naden/PA)

While the Windies dynasty was crumbling all around them with Australia by now the dominant force in world cricket, Brian Lara rolled back the years with one of his finest innings. Set 308, the Windies lurched to 105 for five but Lara was able to withstand the dual threat of Glenn McGrath, who claimed a five-for, and Shane Warne, wicketless in the fourth innings. Lara’s 153 not out got the Windies over the line after number 11 Courtney Walsh was able to keep out five balls. The series finished 2-2.

Sri Lanka beat South Africa by one wicket – Durban, February 2019

Sri Lanka Nets Session – Sophia Gardens – Monday June 21
Kusal Perera made the difference for Sri Lanka (PA)

With Sri Lanka a fading force after the retirement of several all-time greats in the previous decade, there was only one favourite for this series. And when Sri Lanka slid to 226 for nine in pursuit of 304, that notion was reinforced. But Kusal Perera’s unbeaten 153 helped Sri Lanka to an incredible, against-all-odds victory. His unbroken 78-run partnership with Vishwa Fernando went down as the highest last-wicket stand in a successful fourth-innings chase in first-class cricket. Sri Lanka went on to triumph in Port Elizabeth to become the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa.

New Zealand beat England by one run – Wellington, February 2023

England v New Zealand – Second LV= Insurance Test – Day Two – Edgbaston
James Anderson was denied his first winning runs in Wellington (Mike Egerton/PA)

England were downed by one run in Wellington as New Zealand became just the fourth side ever to win a game after following on. Last man James Anderson, who had never hit the winning runs in 179 appearances, was one swing of the bat away from sealing an unforgettable result for his side but when he was caught down the leg side from the faintest of edges off Neil Wagner, a thrilling contest came to a crushing conclusion for the tourists – bowled out for 256 pursuing a target of 258.