There have been plenty of thrilling endings in cricket’s Test format, including games when the margin of victory or defeat was razor-thin.
Games like this are remembered fondly by fans for the heroic bat or ball work of a few players who stood up at a crunch moment. As per test match highlights, these were the best matches in the history of cricket.
- England takes on Australia (Edgbaston, 2005)
This list would be incomplete without at least one match from England and Australia’s 2005 Ashes series.
At the start of the fourth day, the visitors were reeling at 175-8 after England had set them a target of 282 in their second innings.
An remarkable series of events ensued as Shane Warne and Brett Lee brought the Baggy Green within striking distance of their objective before Warne’s dismissal with the score on 220.
It was then that Lee and Michael Kasprowicz grabbed control, guiding Australia to 279 and within three runs of a historic victory.
Kasprowicz was caught by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones off Steve Harmison, and that was the end of the Australians’ hopes. England ended up winning by two runs.
- The English take on the Aussies (Old Trafford, 2005)
In the next match, England again had their opponents on the brink of defeat after putting them in a 423-run second-innings chase.
While Australian captain Ricky Ponting scored 156, he was removed by Steve Harmison late in the day, and the game seemed to be over for the Aussies.
The last two batters, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, were not recognised for their ability to stay at the crease against ferocious fast bowlers.
Australia, to the chagrin of the host team and their fans, won the match and exited Old Trafford with the series tied at 1.
- Australia versus England (Trent Bridge, 2005)
The fourth Test match at Trent Bridge in the 2005 Ashes series was equally as exciting as the others, especially because England was under so much pressure.
After forcing Australia to follow on, the host team was chasing 129 to win, but they were in trouble at 116-7 against a ferocious Brett Lee and a great Shane Warne performance.
It paired the team’s two worst batters, Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard, who both had some batting talent but would undoubtedly crumble under the strain.
There was terrible anxiety in Nottingham, but they inched their team closer to their goal, and Giles struck the winning runs off Warne.
England won by just three wickets, but it was a critical victory in their 2-1 series triumph.
- Australia against the West Indies (Adelaide, 1993)
In 1993, a team from Australia that was on the upswing faced a squad from the West Indies that seemed to be on the downswing in Adelaide, producing one of the greatest Tests ever played.
Batting first, the tourists scored 252 runs before bowling out the Aussies for 213 runs, with Steve Waugh and Merv Hughes contributing scores of 42 and 43, respectively.
With the score at 74-7, the West Indians were in deep danger after scoring just 146 in the second innings, giving the Baggy Green 186 to win.
But rookie Justin Langer dug in, and he and No. 10 Tim May got the team closer.
May maintained his innings with the support of last man Craig McDermott, adding 40 runs to Australia’s total after Langer’s dismissal had placed the team on 144.
McDermott was caught by Junior Murray off Courtney Walsh with the bases loaded and one out with the visitors leading by a single run.
It was a fantastic Test match, and the winning margin was the smallest ever for a side that bowled second.
- Australia vs England (Cardiff, 2009)
After a fantastic 2005 series, England and Australia met again in 2009, with the first Test in Cardiff being possibly the greatest of the whole Ashes campaign.
After England were bowled out for 435, Australia posted 674-6 declared in response, and this time the home team needed to hang on for a draw with less than 24 hours to go.
The last combination of James Anderson and Monty Panesar had to block out after Paul Collingwood scored 74 from 245 balls, although he lost a lot of assistance along the way.
With the fans on the edge of their seats and 88 balls faced between them, the umpires eventually called time.
It was a brilliant break that proved crucial in England’s eventual victory in the series.
- Australia vs. West Indies (Brisbane, 1960)
In 1960, at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Australia and the West Indies played the first ever tied Test.
The opposition scored 453 runs in their first innings, followed by Australia’s 505 runs with Norm O’Neill contributing 181.
The West Indians scored 284 in their second innings, forcing Australia to chase 233 to win. At 232-9 with one ball left, it seemed as if the home team would be able to pull off the unlikely victory.
Ian Meckiff and Lindsay Kline, the penultimate pair, were set on running no matter what Wes Hall delivered, but the seamer kept his cool and forced them to make a mistake.
As the batters raced to get through, Meckiff was run out and the Test ended in a draw.
- England takes on Australia (The Oval, 1882)
In 1882, at The Oval, England and Australia played a Test match that is widely considered to be the beginning of the modern Ashes rivalry.
When England came back to bat after dismissing Australia for 63, they were held to only 101 runs owing in major part to 7-46 from Frederick Spofforth.
After returning to bat, the visitors scored 122, leaving England needing just 85 runs to win the lone Test of the series.
England was dismissed for 77 runs before Spofforth came in and took seven wickets for just 44 runs.
Both teams were actively seeking victory up to the very end; it was only because to Spofforth’s intervention that England didn’t emerge victorious.
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