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Top 5 Ashes Tests: Australia clashes bring out the best in England's legendary all-rounders

The 2023 Ashes starts at Edgbaston on 16th June with England and Australia expected to produce another thrilling series.

Their cricketing rivalry dates back to the 19th century but we have picked out five of the most dramatic Ashes Tests of the past five decades, beginning with England's miraculous victory at Headingley in 1981.

WhatEngland v Australia - 1st Test
WhereEdgbaston, Birmingham
WhenFriday 16th June to Tuesday 20th June
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsEngland 5/4, Draw 4/1, Australia 11/8

Headingley 1981 - England won by 18 runs

England's 18-run victory in Leeds in 1981 was one of the greatest ever sporting comebacks and made all-rounder Ian Botham a national hero. 

Having been bowled out for 174 in response to Australia's 401-9 declared, England were made to follow on. 

They stumbled to 135-7 in the second innings and bookmakers at Headingley were offering odds of 500/1 about a home win. 

However, Botham's brilliant 149 not out, supported by tailenders Graham Dilley (56) and Chris Old (29), held up Australia's charge to victory and set them a target of 130. 

They made a solid start, reaching 56-1, before an astonishing spell of fast bowling from Bob Willis, who took 8-43, sealed victory for Mike Brearley's England side, who went on to win the series 3-1.

Edgbaston 2005 - England won by two runs

The 2005 Ashes was an absolute classic as England, who had not beaten Australia in a Test series since 1986/87, finally regained the urn thanks to a nerve-jangling 2-1 victory. 

It looked like business as usual when Australia won the first Test at Lord's by 239 runs but England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, often labelled the new Botham, produced the goods in the second game at Edgbaston. 

Flintoff took seven wickets in the match and scored 68 and 73, standing firm against ace Australia bowlers Brett Lee and Shane Warne, to help England set the Aussies a fourth-innings target of 282. 

Australia still needed more than 100 runs when Michael Clarke was bowled by a beautiful slower ball from Steve Harmison but Warne (42), Lee (43 not out) and number 11 Michael Kasprowicz (20) dragged them to the brink of glory. 

With just three runs needed, Kasprowicz was caught by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones off the bowling of Harmison and England, by the skin of their teeth, levelled the series at 1-1.

Adelaide 2006 - Australia won by six wickets

After the euphoria of 2005, England were brought down to earth in 2006/07 when, with Flintoff as captain, they were hammered 5-0 in Australia. 

It could have been a different story without Australia's leg-spinning genius Warne, who bowled his side to an unlikely victory in the second Test at Adelaide where England, batting first, racked up 551-6 declared thanks to a huge partnership between Paul Collingwood (206) and Kevin Pietersen (158). 

Clarke and Ricky Ponting responded with centuries for Australia and the game looked to be heading towards an inevitable draw when Warne sparked a spectacular England batting collapse, dismissing Andrew Strauss, running out Ian Bell and bowling Pietersen in quick succession. 

Australia comfortably knocked off the 168 runs required for victory and Flintoff's chastened tourists were on their way to a 5-0 whitewash.

Cardiff 2009 - Draw

Monty Panesar and James Anderson were England's unlikely batting heroes in Cardiff, where the first Test of the 2009 Ashes took place. 

England made a solid start to the series, posting 435, but Australia hit back in ruthless fashion as centuries from Ponting, Simon Katich, Marcus North and Brad Haddin powered a colossal first-innings total of 674-6 declared. 

England's top order crumbled against Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus and defeat loomed large once Collingwood was the ninth man out after batting for almost six hours for his 74. 

The Aussies must have been confident of wrapping up victory at Sophia Gardens but tailenders Anderson and Panesar, who ended his Test career with a batting average of 4.88, managed to survive for 69 balls. 

England, buoyed by that battling draw, went on to clinch a 2-1 series win with a victory in the fifth Test at The Oval.

Headingley 2019 - England won by one wicket

After Botham in 1981 and Flintoff in 2005, Australia were punished by another larger-than-life England all-rounder in the 2019 Test at Headingley

Ben Stokes had already played a starring role in England's dramatic World Cup final triumph against New Zealand earlier that summer and in Leeds, he produced one of the most remarkable innings in the long history of Test cricket. 

After bowling out Australia for 179, with Jofra Archer taking 6-45, England were skittled for just 67 and slipped to 15-2 chasing 359 in the final innings of the match. 

Half-centuries from Joe Root and Joe Denly steadied the ship but 73 runs were still required when last man Jack Leach joined Stokes at the crease. 

While Leach dug in, facing 17 balls for his one not out, Stokes turned up the heat on the Aussie bowlers. 

England rode their luck, surviving a tight lbw shout and a missed run-out chance, but Stokes batted imperiously, hitting eight sixes and 11 fours – the last of which crashed through the covers to seal an extraordinary one-wicket win.

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