Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison celebrate together during England’s incredible 2005 Ashes series win
Steve Harmison says England’s 2005 Ashes-winning bowling attack is “the best bowling attack England have ever had”.
Joining his best mates and former England team-mates Andrew Flintoff and Rob Key on a Sky Cricket podcast special, Harmison said the strength of the Australian side England came up against in 2005 is what separates that attack.
Listen to Flintoff, Harmison and Key on the Sky Cricket podcast in the player below – or download on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
“Everybody can argue about eras, and who had the best team,” said Harmison. “I still think that’s the best bowling attack England have ever had [in 2005].
“I think the best team England have ever had is Andrew Strauss’ team that won in Australia [in 2010/11]. I’m going to shoot myself in the foot here, but to go over and beat Australia is a very difficult thing; we tried a couple of times and didn’t succeed.
“I still think that was the best team, but our bowling attack was the best, I thought, by a decent way.
“Because of who we came up against, that Australian side in 2005.”
The highlights from the Edgbaston 2005 watchalong as Steve Harmison, Michael Vaughan, Shane Warne, Marcus Trescothick and Kevin Pietersen relived an Ashes classic.
Flintoff, agreeing with Harmison’s assessment, says being part of that attack and playing in that team were the happiest days of his career.
“Talk about belonging and being a part of something; being part of that bowling attack was the best ever,” added Flintoff.
“You had him [Harmison]; if Steve bowled well, my job was so much easier. He’d frighten them to death and then I’d come on first change and take a bit of the glory.
“Simon Jones, for me, if he’d stayed fit with his knee, he could have been Jimmy Anderson. He swings it faster and reverse-swings it better than anyone I know. And what a solid lad to have around.
Former England seamer Simon Jones discusses his role in England’s 2005 Ashes win at Edgbaston.
“Matthew [Hoggard] had the swing. He’d lost his pace a little bit, but then became a better bowler, almost like [Shaun] Pollock did.
“And Ashley Giles, he never gets the credit he deserves. He played such an important part, letting us all rest, tying an end up in the first innings and then taking wickets.
“For me, being part of that bowling unit was as good as it gets. I loved it.”
England went on to win the 2005 Ashes 2-1, a first success over Australia in 18 years, coming back from behind after an opening defeat at Lord’s.
England began to turn the series at Edgbaston, clinching a thrilling two-run win in the second Test, in which man-of-the-match Flintoff struck two fifties with the bat and took seven wickets – including Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting in a memorable second-innings over.
Michael Vaughan explains what made Andrew Flintoff such a special player during the 2005 Ashes series against Australia.
“All of the stars aligned, because the ball started reverse-swinging after 13 overs and that is a dream for me,” Flintoff recalled.
“I’m not a swinger, but Wasim [Akram] had showed me at Lancashire how to reverse it in and out.
“The crowd were up, I was on a roll, and Ponting, we knew he was susceptible LBW early on – you had a chance.
“I went for that a couple of times, didn’t get it and then I just turned the ball around, thinking, ‘I hope this reverses away’.
“I bowled one and when it left my hand, I knew it was alright; when it went past him, I was so excited that I wasn’t even sure if he nicked it. I just started celebrating.”
A Harmison slower-ball dismissal of Michael Clarke later on the third evening of that Edgbaston Test meant England needed only two more wickets for victory.
Steve Harmison discusses bowling Michael Clarke with a devilish slower ball in the Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2005.
But, Australia’s tail wagged on the fourth morning and the runs required ticked down from 107 to three to win, until Harmison took the winning wicket of Michael Kasprowicz.
“I always felt as though there would be one more chance,” said Harmison. “Until Simon dropped a catch [with 15 runs needed].
“We threw everything at them. It just felt that on that morning we were trying too hard.
“The adrenaline was getting me through, but my body was getting tired.
“When I’d be standing at fine leg, I’d be shaking like anything. There were a whole host of emotions going through my mind; ‘what would happen if we lost?’
“But then I got to the top of my mark and I’d be totally focused on what I had to do.”
Steve Harmison and Michael Vaughan relive the unforgettable moment when England completed victory over Australia at Edgbaston in 2005.
Flintoff and Harmison would taste Ashes success over Australia at The Oval both in 2005 and 2009, where both would play in their final Test matches for England, together.
“When you’re sat in the dressing room, it’s who you’re doing it with, who you’re sharing it with is the big thing,” Flintoff said. “The two pictures I’ve got with Harmy after 2005 and 2009 at The Oval, they’re the things you take with you.
“I’m so pleased I finished my career with no axes to grind; sure, I fell out with some people, but I’ve made some mates that I love to pieces.
“I’m so happy with my career.”
Harmison agreed, adding: “That meant more to me than anything else, playing with people I enjoyed playing with.
“I’d be asked why I stopped playing one-day international cricket in the middle of my career? Because I stopped enjoying it.
“I didn’t come into the game being obsessed by it. The one thing I was going to do was enjoy it.
“Nasser [Hussain] would be the first to say to me, ‘did you fulfil everything you had?’ I’m not bothered. I enjoyed my time playing cricket and I’m quite happy with what my lot was.”
Andrew Flintoff says the way Kevin Pietersen attacked Glenn McGrath during the 2005 Ashes gave England belief.
Also discussed by Flintoff and Harmison on the Sky Cricket Vodcast special…
– Kevin Pietersen’s memorable introduction to the side in 2005
– What it was like to play Shane Warne in that Ashes series
– Flintoff’s debut series against South Africa in 1998
– The tragic death of former England Under-19 team-mate Ben Hollioake
– Freddie’s struggles with the captaincy and the 2006/07 Ashes tour
– Flintoff’s crusade to win the Ashes again in 2009
Listen to the latest Sky Cricket Podcast in the player above, or by downloading here – you can also listen at this link.