By Chris Devine
Simon Jones will never forget the delivery that accounted for Michael Clarke in the final innings of the 2005 Old Trafford Test - and it is fair to assume he is not alone.
While England could yet win this year’s Investec Ashes in Manchester with two games to spare following their triumphs at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, things were much tighter on the last occasion Australia’s five-day team turned out at the home of Lancashire.
Eight years ago, England’s memorable two-run victory at Edgbaston ensured the series was locked at 1-1 heading to Old Trafford, where a titanic battle ensued.
At tea on day five, the outcome of the game remained unclear with Australia 216 for five having been set a mammoth 423 for victory.
Touring skipper Ricky Ponting went on to complete one of his finest hundreds before Jones breathed new life into England with a magical ball that swung in appreciably to take out off stump as Clarke shouldered arms.
Although Australia ultimately saved the Test with just one wicket in hand, Clarke’s dismissal remains one of the series’ most iconic moments.
In an exclusive interview with ecb.co.uk, Jones takes up the tale.
“We knew he was a big wicket for us,” said the Welshman. “He was obviously still young then but he was such a dangerous player and if he got in he was a tough guy to get out.
“I remember standing at the top of my mark, he was kind of well set, and I got a little bit annoyed because the crowd had gone flat.
“So I turned round and ushered the crowd to get behind us again and that very next ball his off stump went cartwheeling.”
The subsequent celebrations demonstrated just how much the Ashes meant to Jones, who took six first-innings wickets at Old Trafford and played a key role in England’s victory at Trent Bridge two weeks later - a win that proved pivotal as Michael Vaughan’s men reclaimed the famous little urn.
“I honestly thought my head was going to explode. Honestly, it was one of the best feelings of my life, with all the lads running in,” he added.
“To show off my skills as a reverse-swing bowler was great and to pick up that wicket at that time was a great feeling. I’ll never forget that ball.”