Great Uncle Bimbo’s Sporting Memories #4

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Andrew Flintoff turned around the Second Ashes Test of the 2005 series with two wickets in one over.

Davidd and I are 57 years old this month and during those years we have watched some great sporting events. Today, we would like to continue our series of posts where we recall our memories of those events featuring some of our greatest heroes. We have lived through England winning the World Cup (we were a little young, though), Muhammad Ali’s greatest fights, Stoke City winning the League Cup and Botham’s Ashes. Some great times and even more great memories which we hope to share with you during the coming months. Today we would like to share our memories off

The 2005 Ashes series was that year’s edition of the long-standing cricket rivalry between England and Australia. Australia had dominated the series since 1989 with England losing by more than one match in all but one of the series played. During this time, Australia were the dominant side in the world, while England had dropped from being the top-rated in 1981 to sixth for much of the 1990s. They reached a low point in 1999 with a series loss to New Zealand leaving them bottom of the unofficial Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack rankings. However, England were improving and had risen to second before this series while Australia were still the top-ranked side. England had won 14 and drawn three of their 18 previous Test matches since March 2004, and had won six successive series. Nonetheless, before the First Test some Australians, including fast bowler Glenn McGrath, were suggesting that a 5–0 win in the series for Australia was a serious possibility.

Australia won the first Test comfortably by 239 runs, but the second Test saw England level the series with a two-run victory, the narrowest win in Ashes history. The third Test ended in a draw (with England one wicket away from a win), and England won the fourth Test in Nottingham (Trent Bridge) by three wickets, losing seven men in a chase of 129, after England enforced the follow on after gaining a lead of 259 on first innings.

The fifth and final Test took place at the Oval in London. It entered its final day with England batting in their second innings, 40 runs ahead with nine wickets in hand. Australia needed a win to force a 2–2 series draw and so retain the Ashes; any other result would give the Ashes to England and end 16 years and eight series of Australian dominance. After a day of fluctuating fortunes, England established a lead of 341 after Kevin Pietersen’s maiden century, and Australia batted for one over before accepting bad light, realising they did not have enough time to catch England. The stumps were pulled out of the ground and the match was declared a draw to ensure the return of the Ashes to England.

Andrew Flintoff became the first Englishman to take over 20 wickets and score 400 runs (24 wickets and 402 runs) in a Test series.

Here at Jammy Toast we could breathe again following one of the closest test series in cricketing history. Immediately following the final match, HM The Queen sent a congratulatory memo to Michael Vaughan and the team, saying: “My warmest congratulations to you, the England cricket team and all in the squad for the magnificent achievement of regaining the Ashes… both sides can take credit for giving us all such a wonderfully exciting and entertaining summer of cricket at its best.”

Political leaders like Prime Minister Tony Blair, Conservative leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy also sent their congratulations. Blair stated that “By bringing the Ashes back after so long, you have given cricket a huge boost and lit up the whole summer”.

Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard (who was in New York for a UN summit and was given the bad news by an aide during a luncheon with the Asia Society) was gracious in his congratulations to England. “Look, there’s natural disappointment but it’s a situation where you give credit to the team that won,” Howard stated, noting that there would not be a national day of mourning. “They will no doubt celebrate and that will be difficult for some, but that’s the nature of these contests and we should not take anything away from England… They played very well. It’s the best team that England has had for a very long period of time.”

Following their performances in the series both Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan were given the Freedom of the City in their home towns of Preston and Sheffield. On 29th September, the Royal Mail issued a set of four stamps commemorating the Ashes victory. The stamps cost 68p, which was, incidentally, the cost of sending first-class mail to Australia.

In the 2006 New Year Honours, 11 of the 12 playing members of the England team were awarded the MBE, with captain Michael Vaughan awarded the OBE, for their roles in the successful Ashes victory.

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Great Uncle Bimbo

I was given to Davidd, The Bearkeeper on the 24th October 1960 in St Catherine’s Hospital when I was presented to him as a “birth” day present. I came home with him and have been with him ever since. We grew up together and, unlike many other people, he has never decided he was too old to have a teddy bear. I am the oldest bear here at Jammy Toast.


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