Ashes: Flintoff and Vaughan on England's 2005 triumph

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport
Best England moments from 2005 Ashes win
Flintoff and Vaughan's 2005 Ashes Roadshow
Date: Thursday, 25 June Time: 20:00 BST Where: BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website, Red Button, then on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days

England's era-defining 2005 Ashes triumph is littered with "I remember where I was" moments.

For one unforgettable summer, the nation was captivated by every twist and turn of a sporting drama which jolted from one extreme to the other before delivering the climax that every English cricket fan had been craving for nearly two decades.

But how did England react when Glenn McGrath tripped on a ball? What made Steve Harmison decide to dust off his rarely seen slower ball? Where was England captain Michael Vaughan when Shane Warne dropped Kevin Pietersen - and quite possibly the Ashes?

Shane Warne
Legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne took 40 wickets but could not stop England winning the 2005 Ashes

To whet your appetite for Flintoff and Vaughan's 2005 Ashes Roadshow - as well as next month's first Test in Cardiff - here are the untold stories behind five key moments in the greatest Ashes contest of them all.

'The lad with blue hair'

One essential step on the road to ending 18 years of Ashes hurt was taken more than a month before the first Test on a June afternoon in a one-day international in Bristol.

Pietersen had already shown his match-winning potential with three one-day centuries against South Africa, but it was his decimation of Australia's Ashes attack in a thrilling 50-over run chase that really forced the England Test selectors' hands.

Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan
Pietersen, flanked by Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan, was England's leading-run scorer in 2005

Combining brutal power with what Wisden called "wristwork worthy of a squash player", Pietersen bludgeoned an unbeaten 91 off 65 balls to see England home with 15 balls to spare and all but secure his Ashes place at Graham Thorpe's expense.

"I was in the dressing room getting my pads off and the lad with blue hair - Kevin Pietersen - was smashing them to all parts," recalls Vaughan.

"Generally the players would never come up to the captain and mention selection at all, but on this occasion five of the players who were going to be a part of the Ashes said: 'You've got to pick him, you've got to get him in.'

"I remember then going to the coach and saying that we've got to find a way to pick him, we've got to get him into that middle order to take on McGrath and Warne."

'We were doing back flips'

Despite the positivity garnered from the drawn one-day series and the 100-run Twenty20 thrashing of Australia in Southampton, the first Test at Lord's followed an all-too-familiar plotline.

Glenn McGrath
McGrath (second right) took nine wickets for a total cost of only 82 runs as Australia won the first Test

McGrath, so often England's nemesis, took nine wickets to inspire a 239-run Australia win.

And so, when McGrath suffered a freak injury treading on a stray cricket ball during a game of touch rugby just minutes before the start of the second Test at Edgbaston, England could barely contain their excitement.

"Any professional sportsman will say they don't want to see a fellow professional get injured. I'm sorry but we were doing back flips when that happened," recalls Harmison.

"After what he did to us at Lord's, I thought all he had to do was turn up on the teamsheet and our batsmen would be quivering."

"We didn't want him hospitalised but we didn't want it to be something trivial either," jokes Flintoff. "Personally it gave me a massive lift to think I'm not going to have to bat against him."

'Just a gut instinct - I had tried everything'

Galvanised by their good fortune, and Australia captain Ricky Ponting's bizarre decision to bowl first even in the absence of McGrath, England cracked 407 runs in a day to lay the platform for a healthy first-innings lead in the second Test.

But when Warne struck back with six wickets in England's second innings, Australia were left with a highly plausible 282 to win.

Andrew Flintoff
Andrew Flintoff produced some memorable spells of fast bowling during the series

Flintoff ripped through their top order with a brilliant spell of 90mph fast bowling. But it was a delivery at about half that speed that provided one of the most memorable moments of the series.

In the final act of a riveting third day, Harmison bowled Michael Clarke with a looping slower ball to put England within sight of the winning post.

"Because I stand at slip and I watch Harmy all the time, I know which ball he's going to bowl," says Flintoff. "When I saw he was going to bowl that slower ball I thought 'Harmy, what are you doing?'

Harmison picks up: "There was desperation in that last over to get him out because we knew if Michael Clarke was there the next day, we were behind.

"I had tried everything to get him out and he'd been hit in the shoulder and hit in the ribs. The slower ball was just a gut instinct."

'The only science of the summer'

Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff
Steve Harmison took 17 wickets in the series, partner in crime Andrew Flintoff ended with 24 victims

Harmison only took two wickets in the Edgbaston Test, but the second carried even greater significance as Michael Kasprowicz famously gloved behind to give England an incredible two-run victory.

The hosts maintained their ascendancy throughout another thrilling match at Old Trafford only for a final-day century by Ponting to help keep the series level.

In the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, a dominant England enforced the follow-on, but with Ponting once again looking impenetrable at the crease, they were in need of inspiration.

Step forward Gary Pratt, a substitute fielder whose pick-up and throw from cover to run out Ponting made him the most unlikely of Ashes heroes.

Vaughan says England got "a bit superstitious" over their choice of 12th man.

He says: "That was the only science of the summer. We always wanted Gary out there. Obviously he was a good fielder, but he'd been around the group and travelled with us, so we all just felt as one."

Gary Pratt runs out Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting was far from happy to be run out by England's substitute fielder Gary Pratt

As he left the field, an irate Ponting fired an angry tirade at England coach Duncan Fletcher on the team balcony.

"All the way through the series there was this issue of what the England bowlers were doing when they kept walking off and it was clearly really infuriating Ricky Ponting," says BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

"When he unleashed that volley at Duncan Fletcher sitting smugly on the balcony, you just knew he had gone."

'I was out the back and I kept hearing the roars'

England survived a nail-shredding finish to secure the win at Trent Bridge that left them needing just a draw at The Oval to capture the urn.

That scenario appeared a distant dream, however, when on the final morning of the match Australia tore through England's top order.

Once again, England needed a saviour, and this time it was Pietersen who delivered, albeit thanks to a huge stroke of luck.

Having batted frenetically to reach 15, Pietersen edged to first slip, where his then Hampshire team-mate Warne inexplicably put down the chance.

"There was a lovely irony to Warne's drop," says Agnew. "We had heard so much about their friendship so for him to drop the catch was delicious."

As for England's captain, he wasn't even watching.

England celebrate their Ashes victory in 2005
England's celebrations ended with a reception hosted by then Prime Minster Tony Blair at Downing Street

"I was out the back with the lady who does all the travel for the winter," he recalls. "She was asking me about hotels and whether I was happy. I was like 'whatever' and then another wicket would fall and I just couldn't watch.

"At lunch, Kevin had been dropped and hit on the shoulder. He had a bit of a flap on. I remember him asking me - 'what do you reckon?' and I thought, 'well I'm not too sure what to say here.' After a minute or two, I said: 'Do you know what? Just smash it. If you bat for an hour and a half I reckon we'll be all right.'"

Pietersen took Vaughan's instructions to the letter in a swashbuckling innings of 158 that has gone down in cricketing folklore.

By the time he was out, deep into the evening session, one of English cricket's greatest parties was already in full swing.

Ashes Tests
First Test: Cardiff - 8-12 July
Second Test: Lord's - 16-20 July
Third Test: Edgbaston - 29 July - 2 August
Fourth Test: Trent Bridge - 6-10 August
Fifth Test: The Oval - 20-24 August