On January 6, 2003, 34-year-old England fast bowler Andy Caddick recorded a seven-wicket haul at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to hand his team a rare, and what would turn out to be a chapter-turning win against Australia. Jaideep Vaidya recaps the events.
You could say England had begun to believe in Melbourne. After Justin Langer had slammed 250 in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test, taking Australia to a giant total of 551 for six declared, England had been pansy in their reply. If not for their No 8 batsman’s [Craig White] vigil of 85 off 134 balls, the visitors would have been skittled for a score much lower than the 270 they managed. However, even that was not enough to avoid the follow-on. Michael Vaughan then led the charge in the second innings with a superlative 145 that helped take his team past Australia’s total but only 106 runs ahead of it. However, England showed a lot of heart in defending the low total and took five Australian wickets, shared by Andy Caddick and Steve Harmison, before losing their fourth consecutive match on tour.
England hadn’t won the Ashes in 16 years, and until Melbourne they looked as if they would not get anywhere close for 16 more. The tour of Australia in the summer of 2002-03 had begun disastrously right from the word go when Nasser Hussain called it right at the toss at Brisbane in the first Test and inexplicably put Australia in on a belter. Matthew Hayden had then left no time in making England pay for their generosity. However, when the teams arrived in Sydney for the fifth and final Test, with Australia leading 4-0, even though odds were highly stacked in favour of a whitewash, the Englishmen were pumped up to end their tour on a high.
This time, Hussain saw sense in putting his team in to bat first after winning the toss and was rewarded with a decent first-innings total of 362, riding on Mark Butcher’s century and Alec Stewart’s timely fifty. Australia responded with 363 thanks to a memorable and magical ton from Steve Waugh and an explosive one later by Adam Gilchrist. Honours were even by the time Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan strode out for a second go in the post-lunch session on Day Three, both having failed in the first innings.
England lost Trescothick early again, who chopped back on to his stumps to give Brett Lee his 100th Test wicket. Butcher combined with Vaughan for what was looking like a solid partnership, before the Surrey batsman gloved on to short-leg off Stuart MacGill’s bowling in the final session, breaking a stand of 87. Out came the captain to join his star batsman Vaughan who was, in Hussain’s own words, “playing like God” and had had a stellar 2002 in which he scored 1,481 runs in 14 matches at an average of 61.70, including as many as six tons — the highest being 197 against India at Nottingham.
Hussain and Vaughan added a stellar 189 for the third wicket, and the latter brought up his third hundred of the series. Vaughan was out for a magnificent 183, coming from 278 balls and including 27 fours and a six. His series tally was capped on 633, miles above Hayden (496) who was second best. England would declare their innings on 452 for nine with 20 overs remaining on Day Four, giving the Australians exactly those many to chase in just over a day. While an outright win seemed improbable for the hosts, a draw was in the offing. Australia had enough strength in their batting to stick it out for 110 overs. Or did they?
By the time Australia came out to bat the second time, the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) had begun to crumble. There were enough holes and footmarks on it to assist the bowlers. That was all that Caddick needed. “He was always a world-class performer if he had something to work with,” wrote Hussain in his autobiography Playing With Fire. Caddick struck in his very first over, getting Langer trapped in front, although replays showed that the umpire had been generous. Ricky Ponting followed suit in similar manner, although the dismissal was more plumb. In between these two dismissals, Matthew Hoggard also got an LBW to his name after trapping Hayden; and just like that Australia were 25 for three. Nightwatchman Andy Bichel then stuck around along with Damien Martyn to take the hosts to stumps with the score on 91 for three, the deficit still a large 361.
On the fifth morning, Caddick was up and away straight away as he got his third leg-before-wicket, Bichel the victim this time who fell after an edgy yet gritty 49, via a ball that nipped back into the right-hander. Out came Steve Waugh, fresh from a career-prolonging century in the first innings, much to the delight of the SCG faithful. Here was the man who could rescue Australia, or at least who everyone wanted to rescue Australia. But it wasn’t to be a fairytale after all, as Waugh’s luck ran out after scoring just six this time around, when a ball from Caddick found his inside-edge and his shoe, before deflecting onto the stumps. Nonetheless, it was enough to get the Australian captain and home boy a standing ovation, with many expecting it to be his last innings there.
So, just six overs into the session and Australia were wobbling at 99 for five. Off-spinner Richard Dawson got the next wicket soon after, finding vicious turn off the rough surface and taking the edge of Martyn’s bat, bouncing off his thigh and lobbing up; Alec Stewart pounced at the chance and took it one-handed. 109 for six. Martin Love hung around with Gilchrist and the duo quickly added 30 before Love was bowled by Harmison. 139 for seven. Gilchrist had announced his intentions and raced along to 37 off just 29 balls, hitting four consecutive boundaries off Harmison’s bowling, before Caddick produced a snorter. The short-pitched ball rose up to above shoulder-height and took Gilchrist by total surprise, who could only glove it to the slips. 181 for eight.
Brett Lee would provide more lower-order fireworks as he blazed his way to 46 from 32 balls, before some more vicious bounce from Caddick put England within a wicket from a coveted victory. Caddick polished the innings off for 226 by bowling Stuart MacGill, his figures showing seven for 94 for the innings and 10 for the match after his 121 for three in the first innings. It was the first 10-wicket haul of his Test career and one that pushed Australia to their first Test defeat on home soil in four years. The 225-run defeat was also the heaviest against England since being beaten by an innings and 14 runs at Melbourne in 1986. Finally, it was England’s turn to enter the record books on the good side. Even as Australia celebrated their 4-1 series win, little were they to know that England would be so inspired by their show that they would carry the momentum from Sydney forward into the next Ashes series at home in 2005.
While England’s success graph only went north following the win at Sydney, quite surprisingly, Caddick’s headed in the other direction. Not many times has it happened that a player’s career ends with a 10-wicket haul, but that is what transpired for the then 34-year-old. He did not play a Test for England again after being dropped. Despite going on to perform really well in the domestic circuit, Caddick was overlooked in the national setup, probably due to his age. In 2007, at age 39, but never one to mince words or hold back, Caddick said, as quoted by the Daily Mail, “I’m still the best bowler in England and I should still be playing Test cricket. I don’t care who else is out there. It’s up to others to prove me wrong and I can’t see anybody doing that right now. If Ryan Sidebottom can play for England so can I.”
His self-belief of course fell to deaf years.
England 362 (Mark Butcher 124, Nasser Hussain 75, Alec Stewart 71; Andy Bichel 3 for 86) and 452 for 9 decl. (Michael Vaughan 183, Nasser Hussain 72; Stuart MacGill 3 for 120, Brett Lee 3 for 132) beat Australia 363 (Steve Waugh 102, Adam Gilchrist 133; Matthew Hoggard 4 for 92, Steve Harmison 3 for 70, Andrew Caddick 3 for 121) and 226 (Andy Bichel 49, Brett Lee 46; Andrew Caddick 7 for 94) by 225 runs.
(Jaideep Vaidya is a correspondent at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)