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Everyone mistakenly believed that England would defeat the Wags in the 2005 Ashes series.

Late summer of 2005. A Test series win over Australia, their oldest foe, is being polished off by eleven English cricketers.

It is a victory that leaves behind decades-old historical baggage, heals significant psychological wounds, and will serve as the catalyst for a much larger movement.

With this closest of series victories—one Test victory separating the teams—the path to becoming the top-ranked Test team in the world begins.

Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, and Ricky Ponting, probably Australia’s greatest team, were defeated by Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, and Steve Harmison?


England’s women ended their own 42-year wait for a Test series victory against Australia just a few weeks before England’s men won the Ashes for the first time in 19 years, a memorable moment that is revisited in the new BBC Sport documentary How to Win the Ashes.

But unlike the men, their victory was mostly forgotten both at the time it occurred and thereafter.

Tony Blair, a former prime minister, is shown with England’s Michael Vaughan and Claire Connor.
At a Downing Street drinks reception, Claire Connor (right) converses with fellow captain Michael Vaughan (center) and Tony Blair, who was the prime minister at the time.
The 2005 “Forgotten Ashes” heroes were not accorded the same level of respect as their male counterparts. They most definitely weren’t given MBEs in large numbers like the men’s team. The only team member to gain royal recognition with a CBE was captain Clare Connor.

They did get an invite to the celebrating tour of London on an open-top bus. They behind the men’s team in every respect, though.


“We were able to travel throughout London in a bus. Pace bowler Katherine Sciver-Brunt recalls, “Our bus was late and everyone thought we were the Wags (wives and girlfriends)”.

Sciver-Brunt, who was only 20 years old, was the series’ best player. She recorded a crucial 52 in the second Test victory at Worcester, which ultimately resulted in a first Ashes series victory since 1963. She also took 14 wickets over the course of the two Test matches.

“If I had done what I did then in this summer’s Ashes, I’d have had a deal with Nike, a Kookaburra contract, and one of the highest-paid IPL contracts,” she claims.

Slazenger gave me 50% off their kit as it was. And the prize for our victory was merely a high five.

“For many of us, there is some rage. Numerous people lacked basic knowledge, therefore it wasn’t properly commemorated.

Unavoidably, some of the ignorance came from Sciver-Brunt’s own family.

With the credit I had at the time, she says she would call her father on a Nokia 5210 and give him the score.

“Or I could inform him by email sent to his place of employment. He had no other source of information or access to the news.

Those materials would have been challenging to read at the beginning of the summer.

Australia has long been recognized as the best country in the world.

They held the World Cup, and just as in the men’s game, some of the more seasoned members of the England team had been damaged by the years of Australian domination.

It was “an incredibly tough decade for England against Australia” from 1995 to 2005, as Clare Connor acknowledges.

During the first half of the first Test at Hove, Australia’s dominance appeared destined to continue. Despite being reduced to 191-8 in the first innings, Australia reached 355, partly because of Shelley Nitschke’s 81 not out.

Catharine Fitzpatrick was the quickest bowler ever and the greatest in the world at the time, according to Sciver-Brunt. She was wicked and unrelenting.

They had two top-notch spinners and a very deep batting lineup. In the first Test, Nitschke batted first for her nation and entered at number 10.

At 14-3 in the second innings, England appeared to be on the verge of losing, but a backs-to-the-wall hundred from 23-year-old Arran Brindle secured a draw and gave hope to the younger players.

Australian seamer Isa Guha says, “For so long, Australia had dominated, but we had seen a glimpse of going close to Australia three months before at the 2005 World Cup semi-final in South Africa (Australia won by five wickets), when we felt we might overcome them.

That opinion was beginning to develop.

Sciver-Brunt had no fear of either Australia or anything else.

“I was completely fearless. I had established myself in the side after a year there, she claims.

“I didn’t suffer the same wounds from playing against Australia as everyone else did.

I also possessed a unique ability at the time: I was free of the anxieties and mental rubbish that plagued the rest of my career. It was the only time I had ever felt unburdened.

The weight of history was tremendous, yet things were changing.

Stratford-upon-Avon spectators Jo Watts, Jenny Gunn, and Isa Guha celebrate England defeating Australia by two runs in the one-day match.
Stratford-upon-Avon spectators Jo Watts, Jenny Gunn, and Isa Guha celebrate England defeating Australia by two runs in the one-day match.
Between the first and second Tests, England defeated Australia in a one-day match for the first time in twelve years. It followed a losing streak of 19 straight defeats that dated back to the 1993 World Cup. Additionally, it marked Connor’s first victory over England’s fiercest enemies.

We were behaving as though we had won the World Cup, according to Sciver-Brunt.

Less than a week later, England repeated the feat in the second and series-ending Test.

Sciver-Brunt, who took nine wickets and contributed to a key 85-run stand with Guha at the 10th wicket, was a major factor in the victory.

The Women’s Ashes had been won by England for the first time in 42 years. Australia had not lost a Test match in the previous 21 years.

During the opening Test of the 2005 Ashes, England celebrates a wicket.
Following their historic victory in 2005, England won three of the following five Ashes series.
In 2015, Connor remarked, “I’ve never seen a team explode with so much relief and shared joy when we won there.”

“We ran onto the field together after jumping around like kids on the dressing room balcony. It was unquestionably one of my best days ever.

The team’s celebrations were in no way reflected in the news coverage.

Sciver-Brunt recalled being inconsolable when she saw only her match numbers, 9-111, scroll across the bottom of a BBC News article.

There aren’t many tangible reminders of their wonderful summer.

She claims, “The memories are only in my head.” “I only appear in one of the roughly three images I have to my name from that summer. It’s very depressing.

Thousands of enthusiasts gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to celebrate England’s victory in the Ashes, leaving an unforgettable memory.

But it’s challenging to understand how Sciver-Brunt and Guha frame such pictures.

According to Scriver-Brunt, “We viewed the men’s team as our heroes, just as the general public did.” So when we were able to share a drink with them, we thought we were rock stars.

“For us, it was like being backstage at a huge concert by Coldplay, Justin Bieber, or, in my case, the Foo Fighters.

The feeling of being patronized wasn’t pleasant in 2005 or nearly 20 years later, but it was present at the same moment, both then and now that I’m thinking back on it.

We had the impression for such a long time, according to Guha, that we were inferior to the men’s squad.

“There was a sincere sense of gratitude for being there. That has certainly evolved throughout my career in the game as we’ve worked to promote equity in both cricket and sport.

More direct is Sciver-Brunt. 2023 will be a vastly different year, she claims. “All Ashes games this summer will be sold out because they are taking place at venues like The Oval, Edgbaston, and Lord’s.

“We were at places like Worcester, which at the time we were really happy about since it was an improvement over Scarborough.

We had to attend the celebration wearing our incredibly tacky suits because the guests were wild.

The men’s Test kits were so heavy on us that we drowned in them when we were playing on the field.

“We had always shared bedrooms. You would rebel if someone forced you to share a room right now.

During the fifth Test for men at the Oval, England’s women take a picture with the Ashes trophy.
At tea time during the fifth Test against men at the Oval, England’s women pose with the Ashes trophy in their “feral” outfits.
The victory for England marked the beginning of the women’s game’s transformation, both on and off the field.

After an amazing 2009 that saw them reclaim the Ashes, win the World Cup in Australia, and the World Twenty20, they topped the world rankings four years after their Ashes victory in 2005.

Even though England’s series victory in 2005 may have taken a backseat, the series has much to thank for the development of the women’s game.

Sciver-Brunt witnessed her wife and fellow England player Nat Sciver-Brunt become one of Britain’s highest-paid athletes earlier this year when she was auctioned off for £320,000 in the first Women’s Premier League.

There will inevitably be drawbacks to such a rise in earning potential, especially as Sciver-Brunt is getting ready to retire abroad in May.

The ‘Forgotten Ashes’ will never truly exist for Brunt and her team-mates, though.

“Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I had started my career now,” she says. But you shouldn’t actually think about that.

One of my top three cricketing memories from my entire career is the 2005 Ashes, which I haven’t really been able to repeat.

When was the last time you defeated someone 42 years ago? The chances were firmly in our favor. It was much better because of the lengthy wait.

As they and the English women’s team parade past Lord’s, the English men’s team takes the lead.
As they and the English women’s team parade past Lord’s, the English men’s team takes the lead.


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