Top 10 Greatest Ashes Moments

During the next six weeks, England will pen a second volume of one of sports’ most renowned stories: The Ashes. The top 10 most memorable moments in The Ashes history are shared by Man of Many as fierce rivals Australia and England get ready for action in the first Test at Edgbaston.

Thommo and Lillee Terrorise Poms

Six years had passed before Australia held the urn before the 1974–75 home Ashes series. Dennis Lillee, the bowling spearhead, had been sidelined for eighteen months with a potentially career-ending back injury. He was teamed with Jeff Thomson, who had failed to pick up a wicket in his sole Test match two years prior.

However, Thomson’s incredible pace set the tone for the series by taking nine wickets in the opening Test match at the Gabba. Over the course of the five Test matches, the combative pair combined for 58 wickets as Australia cruised to a 4-1 victory, and both enforcers went on to become legends.

Bodyline

England’s 1932–1933 tour of Australia would go down in history as the ‘Bodyline’ series, certainly the most notorious Ashes battle ever recorded and maybe in the history of Test cricket. England came up with a hostile short-pitched bowling strategy, also referred to as “leg theory,” to scare Australian batsmen and undermine the legendary Don Bradman’s genius.

During the third Test match at Adelaide Oval, England captain Douglas Jardine was the main antagonist and his henchman was the fierce fast bowler Harold Larwood, who cracked Bert Oldfield’s head and struck Bill Woodfull in the chest. Anglo-Australian relations hit an all-time low following the match. Still, the contentious tactics had the desired on-field effect as England defeated Australia by 338 runs to seize control of the series.

Waugh’s Courage at The Oval

Before the fifth and final Test in London, the Australian visitors had already won the 2001 series 3-1, but Steve Waugh was keen to play even though he had suffered a terrible calf injury in the fourth Test at Headingley. Not only did the captain play, but he also turned in one of his best innings, topping the score with 157 not out in a characteristically tenacious showing.

He and his twin brother Mark had a stand of 197 runs as Australia amassed 4/641 declared. Australia won the series 4-1 thanks to a decisive victory by an innings and 25 runs, which Shane Warne finished with 11 wickets in, matching their highest performance in England. It continues to be Australia’s final Ashes victory in The Old Dart.

Laker’s 19-Wicket Haul

During the 1956 Ashes, Surrey off-spinner Jim Laker gave an innings-long display at Old Trafford that will live on in the annals of history. The 30-year-old, who claimed a career-high 11 wickets in the last match at Headingley, destroyed Australia on his own by bowling 9/37 as the visitors were reduced to 84 all out in their opening attack. Laker then went on to take 10/53 to become the first bowler in Test history to grab every wicket in an innings, with Australia coming next.

No bowler had ever taken more than 17 wickets in a first-class match before Laker’s incredible 19/90 Test stats catapulted him into immediate legend. With their innings triumph, England grabbed a 2-1 lead and went on to win the Ashes in a fifth Test tie. Meanwhile, Laker finished with an Ashes series record of 46 wickets at an absurd average of 9.60.

Badass Border Reroutes Australia’s Ashes Trajectory

Australian cricket saw more lows than highs in the 1980s, and Allan Border’s tourists to England were mocked as being one of the poorest teams ever to leave Australia.

Australia achieved an incredible 4-0 victory despite having lost five of the previous six Ashes series. Exhilarating individual performances were everywhere: the magnificent centuries made by Steve Waugh in the first two Tests; the injury-plagued Terry Alderman’s 41 wickets, one less than his record of 839 runs in the Australian Ashes series, set eight years earlier; and the debut of Mark Taylor, who scored a double century among the series total of 839 runs, the highest since Don Bradman in 1930. However, Australia’s dominance was largely due to Border’s tenacious, uncompromising leadership.

Enraged by his team’s series of defeats on the 1985 tour and in the home summer of 1986–1987, ‘AB’ took immediate aim at England and continued to do so until the end of the season. “No you fucking can’t, what do you think this is – a fucking tea party?” was the legendary response that Border gave to England batsman Robin Smith after he asked for a glass of water during the fifth Test. The Australian cricket team underwent a sea change under Border’s leadership, and they would not lose the Ashes until 2005.

Amazing Adelaide

In an attempt to recover from a crushing first-test loss in 2006, England amassed 6/551 declared in Adelaide thanks to a massive 310-run partnership between Paul Collingwood (206) and Kevin Pietersen (158). But Australia answered back, reaching 513 all out, with Michael Clarke (124) and captain Ricky Ponting (142) being the main contributors.

When England started Day 5 leading by 97 runs with nine wickets remaining, a defeat looked strange, but with some brilliant speed bowling from Brett Lee (2/35) and Glenn McGrath (2/15) and Shane Warne’s blistering 4/49, the tourists collapsed from 1/69 to 129 all out.

In the last session, the Australians needed 168 to win, but they easily achieved the goal in 32.5 overs because to the one-day exploits of player of the match Ponting (49 off 65 balls) and Mike Hussey (61* off 66).

Though poor England had undoubtedly played the fall guy after compiling the fourth-highest innings total in a losing effort, the match was heralded as one of the finest in Test history. Australia swept the series 5-0 to reclaim the Ashes.

The Don’s Greatest Innings

Don Bradman will never come around again. His greatest Ashes moments are too numerous to list here: a world record 334 at Headingley, two more double hundreds in the same 1930 series, a triple hundred and a double hundred in successive Tests during the 1934 tour of England, innings of 234 in Sydney and 187 in Brisbane in the first two Ashes Tests after World War II in 1946; and so on. However, he may have delivered his best Ashes blow when Bradman was at his lowest point.

As Australia lost the first two tests, Bradman assumed command of the 1936–1937 home series. He struggled with his batting and recorded two of his seven career ducks in back-to-back innings. Bradman was also inconsistent with his teammates and was being outplayed by the opposition captain, Gubby Allen. However, Bradman’s historic 270 in the third Test at the MCG turned the tide of the series in Australia’s favour. His seven-hour display of resolve and focus set the stage for a 365-run victory.

Bradman’s heroics in the third Test, however, were acknowledged by Wisden in 2001 as the greatest batting performance in Test history. Bradman hit 212 when Australia levelled the series in Adelaide, then smashed 169 off 191 balls in the Ashes-winning innings victory back in Melbourne. Over the course of 37 Ashes Tests over 20 years, “The Don” amassed 19 hundreds, including six doubles and two triples.

Botham’s Ashes

In the 1981 home Ashes series, the mercurial and dynamic England all-rounder Ian Botham cemented his legend. After losing the first two Tests, England was compelled to continue in the third match at Headingley. But Botham, who had been removed as captain before the match, turned up a brilliant 149, not out of 148 balls, to turn the series around.

In an attempt to chase a manageable 130 for the win, Australia collapsed to 111 all out, mostly due to a blistering 8/43 from Bob Willis. This makes them just the second side in Test history to lose after forcing the follow-on. From then on, “Beefy” Botham was unstoppable. In the fourth Test, he took 5/11 to bowl Australia out for 121 and secure a 29-run victory for England. In the drawn sixth Test at The Oval, he hit 118 off 102 balls to help seal the series with a 103-run triumph.

Ball of the Century

When Shane Warne was selected for Australia’s 1993 tour of England, he had played 11 Tests with a mediocre record. During the first Test match at Old Trafford, the 23-year-old leggie approached the crease for his debut Ashes delivery. He bowled England stalwart Mike Gatting with what is perhaps the greatest dismissal in history.

The ball was pitched by Warne well outside leg stump, but it clipped the top of off stump and missed Gatting’s outside edge as it bit into a rough spot. After taking eight wickets in the match and 34 wickets in a 4-1 series thumping, the brazen Victorian left his mark as maybe the most dominant Ashes player since Bradman.

The Closest Ashes Test

After winning eight straight Ashes series, Australia travelled to England in 2005 under the leadership of Ricky Ponting, captain of a team full of all-time greats including Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, Lee, and others. After losing the first Test by 239 runs, England faced again another crushing defeat. However, the next encounter at Edgbaston between the archrivals produced one of the greatest Test matches ever.

Shane Warne tore through the hosts’ lineup in the second innings, leaving England with a target of 282, despite having built up a 99-run lead in the first innings. At 9/220, the tourists were clearly in control, but Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz made an incredible last-wicket comeback.

The closest result in Ashes history was achieved when Kasprowicz defeated Steve Harmison to keeper Geraint Jones with just three runs needed to win.

The picture of England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff comforting a brave but heartbroken Lee is one of the most iconic Ashes pictures. England’s historic 2-1 series victory was spurred on by the victory, and they haven’t lost the Ashes at home since.