On this day: Kevin Pietersen century guides England to Ashes triumph

On this day nine years ago Kevin Pietersen hits his maiden Test century to lead England to a 2-1 Ashes series triumph.

It was the series that sparked the interest of a whole generation, launched the career of an England legend, and kept fans of the sport gripped for an entire summer.

Quite simply, the 2005 Ashes was the greatest Test series to have ever been played, and it reached a thrilling climax nine years ago today.

Few could have expected the drama we would see on that final day as England searched for the draw they required to secure a 2-1 victory over Ricky Ponting's Australia.

A comfortable Australian success at Lord's had been followed by a two-run triumph at Edgbaston for the hosts, before a tense draw at Old Trafford and another England win at Trent Bridge, which handed Michael Vaughan's men the advantage heading into the fifth and final Test match.

England looked to be cruising to the draw for much of the match at The Oval, with bad light and wet conditions helping them to a commanding position on the fifth morning, but the tourists had other ideas.

Pietersen would have to deliver a stunning display in the end to guide England over the line after coming to the crease with his side under big pressure due to the excellence of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

McGrath had just removed Vaughan and Ian Bell, while Warne was at his brilliant best to give Australia a fighting chance, but the tourists hurt their chances by dropping Pietersen twice before he looked comfortable at the crease.

Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century against Australia at The Oval on September 12, 2005.© Getty Images

Pietersen would make them pay. What followed was an incredible assault of fearless batting from a 25-year-old playing in his first Test series as he stepped up to the plate on the biggest stage.

Warne had probably never been treated the way he was that afternoon at The Oval, with Pietersen clearing the rope with a number of stunning strokes, but no Australian was safe from the beating as McGrath, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait all receiving the same treatment.

Fifteen fours and seven sixes later, The Ashes was won. Pietersen had carried the hosts over the line with the most spectacular of innings, and he was given a standing ovation by everyone inside the ground after finally being bowled by McGrath for 158.

Umpires Billy Bowden and Rudi Koertzen would bring Australia's second innings to a close after just four balls to delight the English crowd, who celebrated an Ashes success for the first time since 1987.

The celebrations would go on for days as England players and supporters enjoyed what would go down in history as one of the finest summers of cricket ever to be played in this country.

Pietersen may be seen as an outcast now, but no English fan will ever forget his maiden Test century on that September afternoon in South London as the hosts finally tasted success over their fierce rivals after years of pain.

James Anderson
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