2005 Ashes memories burn bright a decade on

2005 Ashes memories burn bright a decade on

London (AFP) - The 2005 Ashes came to be regarded as one of the greatest Anglo-Australian Test series and indeed one of the most thrilling of all time.

Ten years on, the teams return to where it all started in 2005 -- Lord's, the 'home of cricket'.

Thursday sees Lord's staging the second Test of the current series, with England 1-0 up after their unexpectedly dominant 169-run in Cardiff last weekend.

In 2005, it was Australia who went 1-0 up after a crushing 239-run win.

What tended to be forgotten in all the ensuing English euphoria was how utterly deflating that result felt for so many home fans who, at that point, had seen their side go some 18 years without an Ashes series win following the success of Mike Gatting's team in Australia in 1986/87.

As well as the run of eight successive Ashes defeats, another reason for the heightened atmosphere surrounding the 2005 Ashes opener was the fact that it took place after the July 7 attacks on public transport in London that killed 52 people.

If there was a certain sense of defiance in the fact that the match went ahead as scheduled, there was, in mere cricket terms admittedly, a certain sense of resolve on the part of Michael Vaughan's team in ensuring they came from 1-0 down to take the series 2-1.

First came their remarkable two-run win in the second Test at Edgbaston, one of the most tense finishes ever known in a major cricket match.

What happened immediately after the match produced one of the great cricket images, with England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff consoling unbeaten Australian tailender Brett Lee, who'd come so close to seeing his side to a 2-0 series lead.

Old Trafford produced a drawn third Test that was anything but dull before England won another close match at Nottingham and Kevin Pietersen -- now in seemingly permanent international exile -- secured an Ashes-clinching draw with a stunning 158 at The Oval against an Australia attack featuring all-time greats Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

"After that series something changed...you could walk down the street and see kids wearing our shirts rather than football shirts, cricket was front-page news," said Ashley Giles, England's specialist spinner throughout the 2005 Ashes series.

"Back in the days before that we were quite free to go out for a pint and not get noticed and I don't think that's ever quite been the same since," explained Giles, now the coach of English county side Lancashire following a brief spell as England's one-day coach.

Giles, who scored the winning runs at Trent Bridge and made a valuable 59 not out at The Oval, added: "Even for those who came in after us -- it altered the profile of the game, the rules had changed.

"We've won a couple of Ashes series since then but I think we'll struggle to have a series as good and as competitive as that one."