All Time XIs – The Greatest Test Matches I Have Witnessed

An all time XI of the best test matches I have ever witnessed, with one that should have been a classic but ended up not being one.

Usually my all time XI posts are about selecting teams, but this one is a variation – I have selected what I consider to be the 11 greatest test matches I have personally witnessed. I start with the ‘twelfthy’ equivalent – a game that should have been a classic but was spoiled by cowardice on the part of one of the captains.


After four days this match was superbly poised, with the West Indies ahead by just over 320, Chris Gayle having made a superb second innings century to keep them in contention. When WI were all out Australia were left with 81 overs to score 330 on pitch that was still pretty flat and against a bowling attack that was pretty moderate – the only detectable threats were Kemar Roach, then lightning quick, and the possibility of turn for Sulieman Benn. However this match did not get the finish it merited as Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting made a cowardly decision not to make any attempt to score the runs as a result of which the game finished up as a draw.

11: BRISBANE 2021 – AUS V I

India had an injury hit squad, and had started the tour in disastrous fashion, being bowled for 36 in their second innings at Adelaide to lose from what had been a position of strength. They had fought back splendidly winning one and drawing one of the other two games, so the two sides assembled at Brisbane with the series poised at 1-1. India were faced with chase of just over 300 on the final day, and they went for it. Cheteshwar Pujara played a valuable early knock, meaning that the Aussies already had plenty of overs in their legs by the time the middle order got in. Pant and Sundar each played superb innings, and India got home by four wickets to win the series 2-1.

10: LORD’S 2000 – ENG V WI

Things did not look good when England were all out for 133 in reply to WI’s first innings score of 267. However, Gough and Caddick ripped through the WI second innings, skittling them for 54. England needed 188 to win, with the fourth innings of the match starting on the same day that the first innings had ended. England batted better second time round, but even so they only had two wickets in hand when they finally reached the target.

9: HEADINGLEY 2001 – E V A

England achieved what was at the time their largest successful chase on English soil, largely thanks to Mark Butcher who conjured a match winning 173 not out from nowhere.


England took a small first innings lead, but it nearly went to waste, as Ambrose commenced ripping through the England second innings. One of the front line batters survived the onslaught: Graham Gooch. England managed to rally to reach 252 all out, of which Gooch’s share was 154 not out. West Indies, needing the largest total of the match to win it never looked remotely like getting there.

7: THE OVAL 2005 – E V A

Australia had won eight consecutive Ashes series going into this one, and the series had already produced several classic matches. England were coming into this match off the back of a win at Trent Bridge that put them one up with one to play, meaning that a draw was enough for them, but Australia needed a win. England made 373 batting first, Strauss leading the way with a century. Hayden and Langer both made centuries for Australia, and when Australia somewhat illogically accepted an offer of the light which ended day three they were less than a hundred short of England’s total with nine wickets standing. England fought back on day four, actually claiming a small first innings lead, largely thanks to Flintoff. The weather terminated the day’s play early, and England knew that they would need to bat for most of day five to eliminate the Australian victory from the equation. England were five down at lunch time, and Kevin Pietersen had had a lucky escape when Warne at slip failed to hold a catch off him. Collingwood, selected in place of the injured Jones held out for a while, and then Ashley Giles offered Pietersen valuable support. By the time Pietersen was out for the second most important 158 ever scored by a South African born batter at The Oval England knew that they were safe. Giles completed a fine 50, and when England were all out Australia needed 342 off 18 overs, a chase that even they could not have taken on. As it happened the weather intervened very early in the Australian second innings, and terminated the match.

6: THE OVAL 2009, E V A

Another Ashes finale, this time with the series score level, and Australia having won 5-0 in 2006-7. England had won at Lord’s earlier in the series but came into this game having taken an absolute pounding at Headingley. Jonathan Trott had been called into the side to make his debut, and Andrew Flintoff was playing his final test match. England made a good but not great first innings score (332). Australia were 72-0 in reply at one point, before Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann got busy, bowling them out for 160. Jonathan Trott scored a century in the second innings of his debut test, helping England to an advantage of over 500. Australia fought hard, but were almost 200 short when the final wicket fell.

5: MCG 2010 – ENG v AUS

This was the fourth match of this Ashes series, and the series score was 1-1 going into, England having won comfortably at Adelaide and Australia having won easily at Perth to level the scores, with the series opener at Brisbane having been drawn. Many felt that England would be unable to pick themselves up from the Perth hammering, which made the events of the opening day all the more astounding. Australia slumped to 98 all out in the first innings, only just making it into the afternoon session of day one. By the close England were 157-0. England were eventually all out on third day for over 500, and Australia could not avoid the innings defeat, although they fared better with the bat second time round than they had in the first innings. That secured the Ashes for England, and another innings win at Sydney gave the series a scoreline which fairly reflected England’s dominance.

4: HEADINGLEY 2019 – E V A

I wrote in detail about this one at the time (see here). An epic last wicket stand between Ben Stokes and Jack Leach took England to victory after they had been rolled for 67 in their first innings. Australia messed up their use of DRS, burning their last review on one that was never going to be overturned when a few runs were still needed. This meant that a few minutes later when a decision that they would have been right to review occurred they could do nothing about it.


The series was 1-1 going into this match, Australia having escaped with a draw in the previous game at Old Trafford, and made the mistake of publicly celebrating their escape, something that England used as a boost. A big stand between Flintoff and Geraint Jones got England out of a bit of a hole in the first innings, and they ended up with a total of 477. Australia were all out 218, with Simon Jones taking 6-53, the best test figures ever achieved by a Welsh bowler. Australia followed on, and managed to set England 129 to win. At 116-7 things were looking dicey for England, but Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard saw them over the line.

2: RAWALPINDI 2022 – P V E

The match that inspired this post. I have written about it in some detail already (here, here and here). Suffice to say that conjuring a result out of that surface was borderline miraculous and took some very bold captaincy from Stokes and hyper aggressive batting from England.

1: EDGBASTON 2005 – E V A

England had been thrashed at Lord’s to start the series. On the morning of this match Glenn McGrath crocked himself by treading on a cricket ball, but Ponting arrogantly decided not to alter his plan to put England in if he won the toss, even having lost his chief enforcer and having an absolutely guaranteed source of fourth innings wickets. England scored 407 on the opening day, led by 99 on first innings and were then saved by Flintoff from total disaster in their second innings. However, Australia needed a gettable looking 282 to win. At the end of the penultimate day Australia were 175-8, Harmison having brought the day to a close by bowling Clarke with a slower ball. When Warne was ninth out over 60 were still needed, but Lee and Kasprowicz (McGrath’s replacement) gradually whittled down the deficit. Finally, with just three runs needed for victory a ball from Harmison took Kasprovicz’s glove and went through to Geraint Jones. umpire Bowden raised his finger, and the series was well and truly alive at 1-1. The nature of the rest of the series can be gauged from the fact that two of the three remaining matches featured earlier in this XI.


My usual sign off…

A Day-Night Mismatch

An account of the first day-night test match on English soil, with some photographs at the end.


Welcome to this account of the first test match in the series between England and the West Indies, which should still be going on but actually finished on Saturday.


One of the test matches in Australia later this year (the second of the series at Adelaide) is going to be a day-night test match, featuring sessions played under floodlights, and as part of that pink balls (as opposed to the usual red). England not fancying this being their first experience of the format decided to schedule a day-nighter at home beforehand. The problems with this decision are:

  • England because of the long twilight periods when neither natural nor artifical light are really good is not a suitable place for the day-night format.
  • The current West Indies side can hardly be considered to pose a challenge of anything like the magnitude of that of the Aussies in their own backyard.


England lost debutant opener Mark Stoneman and number three Tom Westley (also recently elevated to this level) early on, but then Alastair Cook and Joe Root put the bowling in perpsective with a huge and largely untroubled third-wicket stand. Root just pipped his predecessor as captain to the hundred mark. When Root was out for 136, Dawid Malan joined Cook and they took England through to the close of day 1. On Day 2, England lost a few wickets, including eventually that of Cook for 243 – this last triggering a declaration with the score at 514-8. Rain intervened with the West Indies 44-1. 

On Day 3 the West Indies had a horror start, largely thanks to James Anderson, with 44-1 rapidly becoming 47-4. Although Jermaine Blackwood showed some spirit with a rapid 79 wickets continued to tumble and the West Indies first innings ended on 168 from 47 overs. While many captains have become cautious about enforcing the follow-on in recent years this was one occasion when any captain declining to do so would surely have deserved to be presented a white feather and their P45. Joe Root duly sent the West Indies in again. Early in the West Indies second innings there was some speculation about whether England would take the extra half-hour to finish the job, but it soon became clear that the West Indies would not be batting long enough for the question to arise. Once again resistance was conspicuous by its absence, and the West Indies were all out for 137 in their second innings, this time from 45.4 overs. The most noteworthy feature of this innings was Stuart Broad moving ahead of Ian Botham to number two (behind Anderson) on the all-time England test wicket takers list. 

England had won by an innings and 209 runs with a couple of hours of possible playing time remaining on day 3 (taking the rain that shortened day 2 into account this was effectively a victory in half a test-match worth of playing time). 

While I hope to see Stoneman, Westley and Malan get some big runs in the two remaining tests I do not think that performances against these West Indians will count for anything down under, and nor for reasons already outlined can I really consider this dreadful mismatch any sort of preparation for Adelaide in November. On this occasion it may actually be genuinely the case that Geoffrey Boycott’s mum would have scored runs and/ or taken wickets such was the feebleness of the opposition (for the uninitiated, based on his comments as expert summariser Geoffrey’s mum would appear have a batting record to compare with Don Bradman and a bowling record not dissimilar to that of S F Barnes!).

Most of all, in the remaining two matches of this series I would like to see the West Indies show a bit of heart and spirit, and at least make England work for the victories, as they signally failed to do at Edgbaston. Anyone who had booked seats for the fourth and fifth days is highly unfortunate – the refunds policy covers bad weather but not one side playing bad cricket.

What we saw in this match was a proficient, professional outfit dealing severely with opposition who were not remotely in the same class – well done England, but in a few months you will be facing much tougher opposition.

A scorecard of the match can be viewed here, and if you so wish you can explore from there to read more about this match.


We end with a regular feature – some of my pictures:

Moorhen2Mallard11-13 King StreetK&HMoorhenGullPollinatorPollinator2Pollinator3Pollinator4

The Rathskeller, where I shall be attending a Beer Festival in the run-up to Heritage Open Day

StageTB2TB4white butterflyBannerBPBP2BP3Cormorant

flying butterfly
A butterfly captured whiel in flight


England Take The Lead In 2015 Ashes

A bit about England’s magnificent win at Edgbaston, an infographic about an event being staged by Surrey, some quality links and infographics.


I have some links and infographics as well as my main piece. I hope that you will enjoy this post and be encouraged to share it.


England responded to the battering they took at Lord’s in the best possible way, by storming to a three-day victory at Edgbaston to restore their lead in the series. Australia won by 405 runs at Lords, England by eight wickets here. I reckon this constitutes the most spectacular about turn in fortunes in successive ashes matches since 1965-66 when the teams traded innings victories in the second and third matches of the series.

Particularly welcome was the return to top form of Steven Finn who followed James Anderson’s first innings six-for with six wickets of his own the second. Among the scraps left by these two were enough wickets for Stuart Broad to reach 300 in tests. Ian Bell whose poor form had him in the last chance saloon with the last orders bell being sounded came up with two fifties in the match in front of his home crowd – and given the low scoring nature of the game these were easily worth centuries on a flat one.

An unfortunate injury means that for the fourth match at Trent Bridge England have the unenviable task of attempting to fill an Anderson shaped hole in their squad.

To finish this cricket related section, Surrey are putting on an event to celebrate women’s and girls cricket featuring current England captain Charlotte Edwards, head of ECB women’s cricket Clare Connor and being hosted by Surrey”s Director of women’s cricket Ebony Rainford-Brent…

Women's cricket


My first set of links follow on from my last blog post and feature more on…


First up an event that will probably remain unique in the history of aspiblog – a link to an article in the Daily Mail

Next, courtesy of Huffington Post, this piece by wildlife expert and occasional ballroom dancer Steve Backshall

Finally on this particular topic, this from The Age.



Tonight is the second full moon in July – a rare event called a Blue Moon and best know for the cliche “once in a blue moon”. For a detailed account of the phenomenon check out this piece from

Next, courtesy of livescience come two dinosaur related links:

1)A new discovery of a dinosaur with an exceptional sense of smell

2)Photographs of remains of one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth.

Dinosaur bone

Ending this subsection on science, courtesy of, this piece about the Earth’s magnetic shield being older than previously thought.


Just two connected pieces here:

1)A post on Patheos about an atheist suffering persecution

2)The original blog post that triggered the Patheos piece.


Again, just two connected pieces:

1)An update on a petition calling on Lego to positively represent disabled people

2)And a piece courtesy of themighty that connects to the above petition.


I finish this post with two infographics, one from the Corbyn campaign and one on the subject of NHS pay…

Corbyn NHS