Ranking the Careers of England's Bowling Stars in the 2005 Ashes
The driving force behind England's triumph in the 2005 Ashes was its five-pronged bowling attack comprised of Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones and the often-overlooked Ashley Giles.
For 18 months in 2004 and 2005, these four distinctive characters came together to be the most potent bowling attack across the universe, offering captain Michael Vaughan an option for all conditions: conventional swing with the new ball from Hoggard; exceptional bounce from Harmison; reverse swing from Jones; and controlled aggression from Flintoff. How they startled Australia in the most memorable of all Ashes series.
The quintet gradually came together over the couple of years preceding the Ashes, eventually finding its groove in consecutive series wins against New Zealand, the West Indies and in South Africa.
Switch to 2005 with the Aussies arriving and all five bowlers healthy and in form. Between them, they took all 85 Australian wickets to fall and helped reclaim the coveted urn for the first time in 18 years.
Each player continued to play for a while after the triumphant summer, but arguably none of them ever reached the form they showed in that series again.
Giles retired in 2006 and Flintoff in 2010, but the remaining trio played on before all three decided to hang up their boots recently—although Jones is hoping to continue in white-ball cricket.
Read on as Bleacher Report looks back fondly and ranks the careers of five Ashes heroes in terms of their achievements and legacies.
5: Simon Jones
Fortunately for England, four of these were in the 2005 Ashes when he combined with Flintoff, Harmison and Hoggard to form a relentless pace attack.
The Welshman's mastery of reverse swing went on to be a major factor of the summer with his 18 wickets—one of which was courtesy of this memorable delivery to remove Michael Clarke—costing just 21 runs apiece.
However, nobody would have guess that the 4th Test in that series would be his last international appearance. A rotten run of injuries led to Jones becoming a nomadic figure on the county circuit having four different spells at three different counties.
I always think he could have been one of the greats. He had everything from the way he held his wrist position in terms of release of the ball at 90mph and the simplicity of what he did off a short run-up, which culminated in an explosion of energy at the crease.
Jones announced his retirement from first-class cricket this summer, but the 34-year-old hopes to continue playing limited-overs formats if he can secure a contract.
4: Ashley Giles
Bowling Average: 40.60
Batting Average: 20.89
The Warwickshire stalwart's main job was to provide the solitary spin option, but he also played a key role batting at No 8.
Against the Aussies in 2005, he only took 10 wickets at an average of 57.80, but these statistics don't necessarily do justice to the holding role he often performed.
With the bat, he played a number of useful innings, including a vital half century at the Oval which, alongside Kevin Pietersen, helped seal the Ashes.
With more than 500 wickets and 5000 runs in first-class cricket, Giles could clearly play and he's taken his knowledge into coaching where he led Warwickshire to County Championship success in 2012.
Last year he took charge of England's limited-overs team and seems next in line for the Test team hotseat currently occupied by Andy Flower.
David Graveney's quote about Giles on the PCA website:
As a left arm spinner and a committed number eight batsman, Ashley has made a significant contribution to a successful England team over the years, culminating in the fantastic Ashes victory in 2005. Throughout his career he has continued to serve England with fantastic dedication and great pride.
3: Steve Harmison
From 2004 to 2006, Steve Harmison was the most feared bowler in the world. Capable of steepling bounce and searing pace, the Durham man troubled most batsmen and his figures of 7/12 against the West Indies will live long in the memory.
Match figures of 11/76 followed next year against Pakistan, but Harmison's international form and confidence disappeared, culminating in his memorable delivery to open England's disastrous 2006-7 Ashes campaign.
A couple of cameo appearances in the 2009 Ashes brought down the curtain on his Test career and his full retirement from cricket was announced a few weeks ago after not playing a single game for Durham this season.
Alec Stewart had this to say about Harmison on www.bbc.co.uk/sport:
A natural athlete with similar attributes to the West Indies great Courtney Walsh, Harmison could unsettle any batsman at any stage of his innings. He could also be difficult to keep wicket to because of the way he would make the ball wobble once it had had flown past the stumps.
2: Matthew Hoggard
Matthew Hoggard was the most workmanlike of the pace quartet. Not possessing the pace or bounce of the other three, Hoggy relied on accuracy and persistence.
Coming to the forefront for England during the tour of South Africa in 2004-05, the Yorkshireman took 26 wickets, including a match-winning burst of 7/61 at Johannesburg.
While not as spectacular, his 16 Ashes wickets included some crucial scalps and a memorable 8 not out in a nerve-jangling run chase at Trent Bridge was equally valuable.
Ultimately he deserves credit because he made the most of his talent. He had to work hard on the mental, physical and technical sides of the game.
Once his Test career died down, Hoggard captained Leicestershire and led them to Twenty20 success in 2011, while continuing to add to his haul of 786 first-class wickets.
1: Andrew Flintoff
Batting Average: 31.77
Bowling Average: 32.78
Starting out as a big-hitting batsman who could bowl a bit, the Lancastrian evolved into the most potent all-rounder in world cricket and was at his peak when the Baggy Greens arrived in 2005.
In that series, he scored 402 runs at 40.20 with one century and three half centuries. With the ball, he struck 24 times at an average of 27.29, which still doesn't do justice to his accuracy and hostility. Quite simply, the Aussies met their match.
As per other members of this quintet, Flintoff's international career faded slightly after 2005. A disastrous reign as captain for the return series and a succession of injuries and disciplinary issues limited his future impact.
But the powerful all-rounder managed to line up for the majority of the 2009 Ashes series and made some meaningful contributions to haunt the Aussies once more.
These days, Flintoff is a jack-of-all-trades trying his hand at boxing, radio and television work, game-show panellist and even filming a series of adverts for an oversized clothing firm.
In the manner of Sir Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff was a magnetic attraction for England's cricket supporters - and one of the most respected opponents across the globe.