The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD)

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The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD)

The England Team is victorious and finally brings home the Ashes after sixteen years. Includes highlights from all five test matches featuring Shane W...

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Review of "The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD)"

published 29/01/2006 | carl.mcqueen
Member since : 30/11/-0001
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Excellent
Pro A collection of the greatest test series of them all
Cons Special features lack substance
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"The Ashes - The Greatest Series"

Last summer two teams came together in a sport still seen by many in this country as boring and personified by old men being "frightfully nice" and eating cucumber sandwiches. By the end of it, it had enticed a whole nation into it's hypnotic spell, as well as being a unique sporting event.

England vs. Australia, otherwise known as The Ashes, takes place every two years - once in England, then in Australia, yet the small urn has been held by the Aussies ever since England last won in 1987. Yet the patriotic Englishman had some reason to be cheerful and optimistic this time around with players like Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Marcus Trescothick turning from good international players to great ones in the past 18 months. Yet no one could have forseen the drama that was to unravel:

The first of the 3 disks in the box-set contains the 1st and 2nd tests - Lords, July 21-24th 2005 and Edgbaston, August 4th-7th 2005.

After a brief build-up featuring England vs. Bangladesh earlier in the summer and the one-day matches, the action commences - after an explosive spell by Steve Harmison, who took 5 wickets in the innings, and also cut open Aussie captain Ricky Ponting with a bouncer, England looked well set and had shock up the old enemy. However, Glenn McGrath had a different idea. His opening spell ripped England to 20 for 5, including his 500th Test wicket, and were it not for a maiden fifty on debut by Kevin Pietersen, England could have been dismissed for less than 100. Unfortunately, the Australians then began to pull away - numerous dropped chances led to a large led, and during England's chase, only Strauss, Trescothink and Pietersen ever got going. England capitulated to a 239 run defeat and the media kept up with the old cliche of it being the "same old story".

So, with the first test well and truly taken by the Aussies, it would take something special for England to retaliate, and something special came along. Excellent innings' by Trescothick and Pietersen helped on an superb first day, but the heroics of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff with bat and ball will forever be remembered. Yet, with England needing just two wickets on the final morning, with Steve Harmison striking with the last ball of the fourth day - producing Mark Nicholas' infamous excitement - "Steve Harmison, with a slower ball, one of the great balls." So, all England needed was two balls to wrap up the game, with Australia needing a near-impossible 100-plus. Yet, they got within two runs, and then when Kasprowicz gloved a Harmison bouncer to Jones behind the stumps and umpire Billy Bowden raised his crooked finger, the whole of the audience, be it in the ground or at home, lifted from the edge of their seat and exploded into rapture. One of the greatest tests, bar none.

The second of the 3 disks in the box-set contains the 3rd and 4th tests - The Third Test, Old Trafford, August 11th-15th 2005 and The Fourth Test, Trent Bridge, August 25th-28th 2005

The third match included a number of milestones, such as Michael Vaughan scoring the first century of the series, Shane Warne picking up his 600th wicket of his illustrious career, Simon Jones taking career-best figures of 6-53 and Andrew Strauss hitting his first ever century against the Aussies. Yet it was Ponting's century that will forever be remembered as one of the great backs-against-the-wall performance's. His 156 kept England away from back-to-back victories, and despite being dismissed with 4 overs of the day to go, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath managed to hang on and ensure that the series stayed level at 1-1 in another tense, cliff-hanger of an ending.

Trent Bridge welcomed the fourth match of the series, in a match that was pivotal - if England lost, Australia would regain the Ashes. Another strong opening day batting by England helped them on their way, with a century on the second day by Freddie Flintoff giving them a total of 477 - the highest of the series. Australia needed to bat well then - they didn't. Being dismissed for 218 resulted in them being asked to follow-on for the first time in over 15 years. Yet rearguard inning's by Langer, Clarke and Katich ensured England would have to bat again - chasing 129. Trescothick flew out of the starting blocks, but Warne's first deliver dismissed him, and with that he began to work his magic. Pietersen and Flintoff pushed England over 100, but Lee removed them quickly, and it was left to Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard - two of the forgetten men it would have to be said, that took them over the line - a nail-biting victory that gave England a 2-1 lead.

The final disk of the box-set contains the 5th test and the included extras - The Fifth Test, The Oval, September 8th-12th 2005 and Special Features.

So it all came down to this. If England avoided defeat, they would win the Ashes for the first time in a generation, yet as Australia showed in England's fouth innings at Trent Bridge there was still a lot of fight left in their locker. England batted first for the fourth time in a row, and again Trescothick and Strauss started strongly - just what was required, but wickets fell regularly - Flintoff's 72 was the only other score above 35 and England were all out for 373. Then it seemed like it was all going wrong, Both Australian openers reached 100 and at 264 for 1 Australia's gameplan seemed to be to bat once and once only. However, not for the first time in this series, Flintoff had something to say on the matter. His five wickets, along with some excellent swing bowling by Hoggard ended up giving England a six run lead. But spin doctor Warne and metronome McGrath would have something to say about all this. Warne struck instantly to make it 2 for 1, and at 34 for 1 at the end of the fourth day, nothing was certain. If England's nerves fell apart, Australia could win comfortably. But one big innings would guide the little urn home. And that Innings came from Pietersen, who many people suggested should button down and play a defensive, concentrated innings. But what transpired was a crash-bang-wallop display of brilliance, and when he fell late in the day for 158 to McGrath, the game, and the series was as good as over. A fifty from Giles helped spur the crowds celebrations that bit further.

With the light deterring badly, the umpires came out and pulled the bails off in a theatrical display, and with that the Ashes had returned to these shores. Sporting excellence. This fabulous sporting series had ended just as we had all dreamt. Players had been built into heroes, in a way that no one could have dreamt.

The special features on the disk contain the following:

Simon Hughes Ashes Analysis - a overview of how the Ashes were won.

Five Great Performances with the Bat - a look at five centuries in the series.

Five Great Performances with the Ball - a look at five five-wicket hauls in the series.

Commentators' Moments of the Summer - A feature shown on Channel 4 during lunch on the very last day of the series, that makes interesting viewing.

Scorecards, Stats and Facts - as the title suggests, all of these descriptions for us to view.

The Best of the Amazing 4Sight Camera - The now infamous extreme slow-mo camera Channel 4 use, with the accompanyment of some classic music.

Richie Benaud's Goodbye - After 42 years here are Benaud's last few minutes of commentary at the Oval.

With 8 and a half hours of cricketing brilliance on display here, anyone who ever's bowled, hit, fielded or just watched cricket will thoroughly enjoy this. You can pick it up on Amazon for just £14.99 - a bargain if you ask me! Sit back and enjoy one of the greatest sporting spectacles between two teams ever.

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Comments on this review

  • Dan_ep published 09/07/2006
    Not sure if i could watch it time and time again! My bro is a cricket fanatic and has this. Dan.
  • brereton66 published 27/06/2006
    Good review, although perhaps a little too much about the matches rather than whats on the DVD, quality of highlights selected etc.
  • jesi published 27/03/2006
    It would also be nice in your introduction at least to mention WHY it is called "The Ashes" ~ or wasn't that explained and you don't know? ~ .................................................................................................... ~ ♥ ~ jes ~ ♥♥
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Product Information : The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

The England Team is victorious and finally brings home the Ashes after sixteen years. Includes highlights from all five test matches featuring Shane Warne and Freddie Flintoff. Also previously unseen footage from the 2005 Ashes.

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