Positive appeal put to the test
One thing can be said about Ashes Tests at Edgbaston - there’s usually a positive result.
That was proved in emphatic and unforgettable style four years ago, when Michael Kasprowicz gloved Steve Harmison to Geraint Jones, in the indelible image of England’s 2005 triumph.
England won by two runs, the second narrowest winning margin in a Test match, after West Indies’ one-run win over Australia in Adelaide in 1993. And that also ended with an Australian tail-ender, Craig McDermott, gloving Courtney Walsh to a wicketkeeper, Junior Murray.
But Brummie convention will be tested severely on a ground where the home county, Warwickshire, have found it impossible to force a result in the LV= County Championship for quite some time.
There has only been a solitary win in the championship at Edgbaston this season, and that was by the county champions Durham, who arrived with a formidable pace attack of Harmison, Graham Onions and Callum Thorp.
But the fact remains that in the last eight Ashes Tests in Birmingham, only one match, the rain-affected game in 1989, has ended in stalemate.
It has not always been thus. The ground’s inaugural Test, a three-day match in 1902, was ruined by rain. Wisden noted that rain on the last day “saved the Australians from a defeat that under ordinary circumstances would have been inevitable.”
Nonetheless, England still had time to skittle Australia for 36, with the legendary spinner Wilfred Rhodes taking 7-17.
Australia were not so lucky seven years later - totals of 74 and 151 sent Monty Noble’s touring party scurrying out of the West Midlands 1-0 down.
Edgbaston played a crucial part in Botham’s ashes. Fresh from his Headingley heroics, Ian Botham took five wickets in 28 balls to take England home by 29 runs - until 2005, the narrowest winning Ashes margin on this ground.
And since the visit of Allan Border’s side 20 years ago, 14 of England's 17 Test matches held at Edgbaston have ended positively. England were the victors on eight occasions, though South Africa did dent that record with a demoralising five-wicket win last summer.
Ricky Ponting will prefer to draw on the way Steve Waugh’s side summarily destroyed England here in the first Test of the 2001 series. Centuries for Waugh, Damien Martyn, and most brutally, Adam Gilchrist with 152, saw Australia rack up their highest-ever total at Edgbaston on their way to an innings victory.
Beware the wounded Australian tiger.
England-Australia Edgbaston records
England wins: 5
Australia wins: 3
England - Highest total: 595 for five dec; Lowest total: 101
Australia - Highest total: 576; Lowest total: 36
1909: England won by 10 wickets
1975: Australia won by an innings and 85 runs
1981: England won by 29 runs
1985: England won by an innings and 118 runs
1993: Australia won by eight wickets
1997: England won by nine wickets
2001: Australia won by an innings and 118 runs
2005: England won by two runs
Last England victory: Aug 4-7, 2005
England 407 (ME Trescothick 90, KP Pietersen 71, SK Warne 4-116) & 182 (KP Pietersen 73, Warne 6-46, B Lee 4-82) beat Australia 308 (JL Langer 82, RT Ponting 61) & 279 (B Lee 43, A Flintoff 4-79) by two runs.
Last Australia victory: July 5-8, 2001
England 294 (AJ Stewart 65, Warne 5-71) & 164 (Trescothick 76, Warne 3-29, JN Gillespie 3-52) lost to Australia 576 (AC Gilchrist 152, SR Waugh 105, DR Martyn 105, MA Butcher 4-42) by an inns & 118 runs.