I think post the match result, he will put this innings right at the top of his favourite list and I think it deserved a place there even if the Aussies had lost the match.
For all four days of the match the Aussies were outplayed by outstanding cricket by the Poms. Only Shane Warne had managed to put his hand up. Steve Waugh has left a valuable legacy with this Aussie team, that of playing with the tail-enders. Warne did it at Edgbaston and managed it again here. Lee also did not let the Edgbaston ghosts haunt him and along with McGrath survived probably the tensest 24 balls of their careers!
The way the Ashes is going; the weak-hearted should stay away from the television sets. The team that loses the series is going to give collective heart failure (as Mike Atherton said to Vaughan post yesterday’s result) to its fans at the end of this series.
England was always on top and almost drew home the advantage. I missed the initial wickets but the last two hours were extremely tense! Clarke and Warne along with Ponting looked like taking Aus away to a safe harbour only to lose their wickets at crucial moments! Warne’s wicket was a delight! Warne nicked Flintoff to the second slip only to see the ball slip out of Strauss’s hands, jump off his thigh, I’m safe he thought, but alas, the next second he saw himself being sent to despair by a superlative reflex catch by Gerraint Jones!
When Ponting got out, I skipped a heart beat!! It looked all over for the Aussies with 4 overs to go and Lee having McGrath for company. McGrath with his not so fine reputation with the bat battled it out with Lee and saved the match, the draw as good as any victory for them.
For the first time
- I saw Lee‘s face disappointed when he hit two boundaries, that prevented him from taking the strike the next over
- I saw the Aussies rejoice over a drawn match as if they had won it
- It was hard to figure out that the result was a draw as England sulked what seemed like a huge loss to them, a golden chance blown away!
All’s not over for any team, England has given a superlative performance to comeback into the series and challenge this Aussie team. Aussies are looking vulnerable and have not been in their element in the last two matches.
Now is the true acid test for England & Australia. The Poms have to maintain their momentum, and back themselves to win the Ashes. A drawn series would do them no good as Aus would retain the Ashes. England will have to go out firing from all ends and leave no stone unturned!
Australia on the other hand is facing a huge challenge for the first time in two decades! They have a reputation to live upto! Can they comeback? A question they thought would never be posed to them! Do they have the answer to it? Only time will tell :-)
As for us humble cricketing fans, we couldn’t have asked for more! Savour the series and enjoy the moments.