Greatest Moments in Ashes Cricket History: Australia-England Test Cricket
Memorable Moments Test Cricket
The Ashes Cup
England and Australia have a long cricket history. The first test match was played in 1877, but the Ashes appeared after the 1882 test match at the Oval which Australia won. A satirical obituary in the Sporting Times a British paper, first referred to the ashes. Subsequently the next series in Australia was dubbed as the ‘Quest for the Ashes’. A terracotta cup containing the ashes of a cricket bail was presented to the English captain in Australia in 1885 and after that the ashes has become a symbol of Australia –England test matches.
England Australia Test Matches
Cricket between Australia and England for the ashes has been played regularly except during the war years. The series dubbed as the fight for the Ashes arouses worldwide interest. During this long period of over hundred and 45 years many memorable test matches have been played. Obviously a selection of the greatest moments is slightly subjective, but some moments will stand out.
Below are some of the great moments of Ashes series between Australia and England. They are not in any particular order and a reader can pick his own order. The following six tests can be considered unique and among the greatest moments in Ashes history
Lakers Test at the Oval 1956
- The Oval and Lakers Feat of 19 for 90(1956). The Australian team under Ian Johnson toured England in the summer of 1956. It boasted of a solid batting line up with Neil Harvey as the mainstay and a fast bowling combination of Lindwall and Miller. The English team was led by Peter May. On paper both sides appeared evenly matched. Australia had won the second test and all eyes were on the Oval test. One spinner Jim Laker was to make history on the oval wicket. The Australians were clueless against Laker who took all 10 wickets in the first innings and followed up with 9 in the second innings. The Aussies lost the test heavily. Laker established a world record that may never be beaten. The pitch was slow and dusty but Laker exploited it. The mystery was that the other spinner in the English team Locke managed only one wicket.
The Oval Test of 1882
- The Oval test of 1882 qualifies as one of the greatest test matches for the Ashes. Australia was a colony at that time and it was expected the English team would beat them easily. It was a low scoring game with Australia making 63 and 122. England replied with 101 and 77. It was a stunning defeat as 85 was thought to be gettable. Australian fast bowler Spofoth in an inspired spell took 4 wickets for 2 runs and led Australia to a great victory. An astonished Oval crowd fell silent, unable to believe that England had been destroyed by a colony. The satirical obituary in the English press appeared after this defeat.
Bradman’s Test Headingly 1932
- The Headingly test of 1932, where Bradman set the stadium afire with some stupendous batting is also one of the great tests. Before this Bradman had played only 4 test matches and not much was expected of him. But Bradman with an innings of 334 set England and the entire cricket world aflame with a precision batting of the highest class. In each of the 3 sessions of play he hit over a hundred runs and it was no surprise that England lost. For sheer brilliance of Bradman’s batting, this ranks as one of the greatest test matches for the Ashes.
Bodyline Series Down Under 1932-33
- The bodyline series down under in 1932-33 hold special significance. The English captain Douglas Jardine specially formulated a bowling tactic spearheaded by Harold Larwood the English pace bowler to contain Bradman. He called it the ‘leg theory’, but in practice it meant bowling short pitched stuff at the batsman’s head. Larwood finished with 33 wickets in the series at 19.31 apiece and England won the ashes.
Botham’s Test Headingly 1981
- The 1981 Headingly test is one of the most famous Ashes test. The test is famous for the performance of Ian Botham the English all rounder. England was made to follow on after they folded for 174 against the Aussie first innings total of 413. Botham played a stupendous 149 not out and helped gain a small lead. The bookies were offering 500-1 odds for an English win. Bob Willis with 8 for 43 led England to a most unlikely win. This was only the second time in cricket history at that time that a side following on, won the test.
Bradman’s Farewell Series Test Headingly 1948
- The Headingly test in 1948 between Australia led by Don Bradman cannot be omitted from this list. This was the 4th test of the series and England set Australia 404 to win. England was already two down and needed to win. Bradman stepped in at 57 for 1 and five hours later walked off with 173 not out. Arthur Morris made 182 as Australia overhauled the score to win. This remained a record for 28 years as the highest total chased for a win in the fourth innings.
The tests selected above are not in any order, but they bring the romance of the Ashes alive.