High five: Series-defining moments

 
Andy Lloyd
OUR cricket columnist, former England batsman and Warwickshire chairman Andy Lloyd, has been poring over the Ashes action and selects his top five moments of the series.

1. COOK’S DOUBLE TON IN BRISBANE
England were looking down the barrel halfway through the first Test before their top three responded in record breaking fashion. Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott both scored centuries, but it was the innings of Alastair Cook that really caught the eye. He came into the series as the supposed weak link, but his 235 not out immediately sent the Aussies back to the drawing board and really laid down a marker for the rest of the series.

2. KP COMES TO THE PARTY
They won’t admit it, but if there’s one player the Aussies fear, it’s Kevin Pietersen. His double century in Adelaide helped England set-up their victory, but it was the way he took the game to the Australian attack that really thrilled. It also confirmed that he’d overcome the mental, technical and physical problems that had dogged him for the previous 18 months. To see their star batsman fill his boots gave England a huge lift.

3. JOHNSON’S PERTH MASTERCLASS
Mitchell Johnson’s certainly a mercurial talent, but one Australia need to learn to handle properly. He’s not been given the best possible opportunity to shine in this series by the selectors or his captain. His spell in Perth, where he took six quick wickets, was as a good a display of fast, accurate, swing bowling you’re ever likely to see. England, for once this winter, simply had no answer.

4. COLLINGWOOD’S MIRACLE CATCH
Colly’s produced so many memorable moments in the field it’s hardly a surprise when you see him pull off catches like the one which got rid of Ricky Ponting in Perth. But that one was seriously special. The Durham batsman announced his retirement from Test cricket on the fourth morning of the fifth Test, and there’s no doubt he’ll be missed. England’s improvement as a fielding side in general, not just in this series, where they’ve been miles better than Australia, is largely down to the way he leads from the front in an often unappreciated department of the game.

5. WINNING THE TOSS IN MELBOURNE
Not a spectacular note to end on, but in my eyes it was the moment I knew the Ashes were coming home. Had the Aussies had the chance to bowl first on a green wicket in humid conditions, we might not be sitting in the happy position we are now. England, Chris Tremlett and James Anderson in particular, exploited the conditions at the MCG expertly and it was just wonderful to behold.