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On this day in 2005: Kevin Pietersen inspires England to Ashes glory

The South African-born batsman helped guide his adopted nation to an historic victory against Australia at The Oval.

Kevin Pietersen emerged as a hero of his adopted nation after scoring a maiden Test century which guided England to an historic Ashes victory and sparked party celebrations at The Oval and beyond on this day in 2005.

Two months after polarising opinion about his selection for the opening Test, Pietersen unified a cricket-mad population by providing almost single-handed defiance to Australia and ending England's long wait for Ashes glory.

Since Mike Gatting's side won the urn in 1986-87 notable figures like Nasser Hussain, Alec Stewart, Michael Atherton and Darren Gough had tried and failed to break Australia's dominance during eight successive series.

Some of them were in the 23,000 crowd, which rose as one to celebrate an outstanding success and possibly the biggest sporting achievement on home soil since the England football side lifted the World Cup at Wembley in 1966.

England reclaimed the Ashes on this day 15 years ago (Chris Young/PA)
England reclaimed the Ashes on this day 15 years ago (Chris Young/PA)

Pietersen enjoyed his share of fortune during his superb 158 – he was dropped on nought, 15 and 60 – but his 281 minutes of occupation at the crease ended Australian hopes of delivering another nerve-chilling finale and snatching the Ashes from England's grasp at the last moment.

But by the time he was out even Australia had accepted the inevitable and had withdrawn Shane Warne, guilty of missing the easiest opportunity to remove Pietersen early in his innings, from their attack as England defiantly
progressed towards the draw they required to end 16 barren years without the Ashes.

Political leaders, including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, lined up to salute Michael Vaughan's side, who were feted with a parade the following day from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square which was attended by tens of thousands of Londoners.

England's celebrations went into the night and carried on for much of the next day following their 2-1 triumph in a series that is still fondly and often recalled 15 years on.

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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