Wins, parties in the stand and the greatest Test – why England love Edgbaston
The venue seems to come hand in hand with success for England.
Edgbaston is the venue for this week’s Ashes opener and has been a happy hunting ground for England over the years.
England have won six and drawn five of their 14 Tests against Australia in Birmingham, with only three defeats, while recent history has them demolishing their old foes in the World Cup semi-final.
Here, PA looks back at the ground’s Ashes history and why it is such a happy hunting ground for them.
Edgbaston welcomed the touring Australians for the first time in May 1902, when the rain helped them to a draw despite having been bowled out for 36 in their first innings. They were not so fortunate when they returned seven years later, with Jack Hobbs’ unbeaten 62 securing England a 10-wicket win.
That was their last visit until 1961, when Australia’s Neil Harvey and England’s Raman Subba Row and Ted Dexter all made centuries in a high-scoring draw.
The 1968 Test was also drawn before in 1975, Australia recorded what was to prove a rare Edgbaston win – albeit an emphatic one, by an innings and 85 runs.
England won by 29 runs in 1981 and by an innings and 118 in 1985, captain David Gower with a double century. The decade concluded with Australia dominant in a draw in 1989.
Mark Waugh made 137 and 62 not out in a 1993 eight-wicket win for Australia and after Nasser Hussain’s double-century led England to a nine-wicket win in 1997, the tourists enjoyed another innings win in 2001.
That remains Australia’s most recent victory at Edgbaston, with England winning an unforgettable 2005 clash. After a draw in 2009, England won 2015’s clash by eight wickets.
In amongst their Edgbaston successes, the 2005 Ashes thriller stands tall for England. Regarded by many as the greatest Test ever played, England won by two runs after Australia almost chased what appeared to be an improbable 282 to win.
Buoyed by Glenn McGrath injuring himself in the warm-ups, England raced to a first-innings 407 and had a lead of 99 after cleaning up Australia. Virtually batting with one arm, Andrew Flintoff then clubbed 73 to set the target, before the Lancastrian produced some of the most memorable bowling in English history as Australia were reduced to 137 for seven.
However, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz produced a last-wicket stand of 59 which looked to be pushing Australia to a shock win and a 2-0 series lead, before umpire Billy Bowden deemed Steve Harminson had Kasprowicz caught behind by Geraint Jones, leading the great Richie Benaud to simply say “Jones, Bowden” as the celebrations unfolded.
The handshake that followed as Flintoff dropped down to meet a devastated Lee on his haunches has become an indelible image in Ashes history.
“He bowls to the left…”
England’s superb Edgbaston record runs alongside the fantastic support they get at the ground.
The Hollies Stand is one of cricket’s most vibrant places to watch the sport from and, according to Chris Millard from the Barmy Army, it is a place opposition players do not want to play.
“Edgbaston has been the home of the Barmy Army for some significant time, it’s the best atmosphere in the UK and the Eric Hollies Stand will challenge any stand in the world,” he told PA.
“You’ve seen some amazing cricketers, high-profile cricketers, fail at Edgbaston because of the atmosphere. People come to England and fear Edgbaston. Mitchell Johnson spoke about Edgbaston and it’s amazing how a ground can have that sort of atmosphere.
“It’s testament to the work Warwickshire and Edgbaston have done to make it a fortress for England.”
Johnson was a crowd target during his playing days, on the end of a ‘he bowls to the left, he bowls to the right’ chant and, while Millard says Australian duo Steve Smith and David Warner will resume the role of pantomime villains this week, he wants the rivalry to remain good humoured.
“We don’t want anyone to get booed on a cricket field,” he said. “It will happen, and I can see people will get the urge, but we will be singing songs and taking the mickey in our own unique way.”
England’s long-time opening pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad have enjoyed tremendous records at Edgbaston, standing head and shoulders above any other bowler likely to be involved.
Anderson’s fitness is being monitored after a calf injury but assuming he is passed fit to play, he will look to add to his 44 wickets at an average of 22 in eight previous Tests at Edgbaston. That includes six for 47 and five for 80 against Australia in 2015 and 2009 respectively, as well as four-wicket hauls against Pakistan in 2010 and India in 2011.
Broad surely secured his place with four for 19 as Ireland were skittled for 38 at Lord’s last week and has 29 wickets at 22.41 in seven Edgbaston Tests – though never more than two in an innings there against Australia.
Moeen Ali averages 69.33 with the bat in Tests at Edgbaston – his four innings have produced three half-centuries and a duck – while England captain Joe Root averages 66 in seven Test innings there with three half-centuries – including 63 in the 2015 Ashes – and a century against the West Indies in 2017.