10 Best Ashes Tests of All Time

Published 01/13/2018, 5:43 AM EST

Arguably the fiercest rivalry in Test cricket, England vs Australia in the Ashes series is ready to set the stage ablaze yet again. The 2015 Ashes series is just a fortnight away and the excitement is already building up among the fans of not only the two countries competing, but among the fans passionate about the sport as well. Test cricket is the apex form of cricket and no matter how interesting the shorter formats of the game might be, the real test of the cricketers lies here. So which was the greatest Ashes Test of all time? That’s a bit tough to pick. Therefore, Essentially Sports brings to you the 10 best Ashes Tests of all time.


Article continues below this ad

The first Ashes Test starts on 8th July in Cardiff

Best Ashes Tests


Article continues below this ad

The England team was humiliated by the English media.

Match summary: Australia 63 & 122; England 101 & 77

The Test marked the first Aussie win over England in England. After winning the toss, Australia decided to bat first and were bundled out for just 63 runs. England came in to bat looking to get a solid lead, but Australian bowler Fred Spofforth ruined the English innings, taking 7 wickets and bowling them out for just 101.

In the second innings, Australia were dismissed for 122, setting England a target of a meagre 85 runs. But like the first innings, Aussie bowler Fred Spofforth ensured that what could be an English party, would become an Aussie fest. He bowled a deadly spell, scalping 7 wickets yet again, and England lost the Test by 8 runs.

On one hand the loss stung the England players, on the other hand, it was made worse by the media. The Sporting Times went on to say that English cricket had died and the body will be cremated and the ashes will be taken to Australia. The media then dubbed the next England tour of Australia as the quest to regain the ashes, giving birth to the historic Ashes Test series.9. Headingley, 1948: An epic 400-run chase

Don Bradman and Arthur Morris coming out to bat.

Match summary: England 496 & 365; Australia 458 & 404

The match saw a first in the Test history, 400 runs being successfully chased by the team batting fourth to win the Test. England captain Norman Yardley declared their second innings confidently at 365 for 8, setting Australia a mammoth target of 404 to chase. But England’s bowling and fielding blunders gifted Arthur Morris and Don Bradman second lives, both going on to smash match-winning hundreds and winning a record-breaking Test match. The very first Ashes test definitely qualifies as one of the best Ashes tests of all-time8. Sydney, 1894: An interesting twist of tales

Bobby Peel sealed an epic victory for England.

Match summary: Australia 586 & 166; England 325 & 437

It was yet another historic Test match, with the first instance where a team won the Test match after being forced to follow-on. Australia put a gigantic 586 on the board, dismissing England for just 325. After being forced to follow on, A. Ward of England scored a brilliant century and took England to a healthy total of 437 runs in the second innings, setting up a target of 177 runs for Australia to win the Test match.

Things turned around after Bobby Peel, a slow left arm bowler, came into the attack. He knocked the Australian batsmen at will and took 6 important wickets for just 67 runs. His brilliance with the ball, ensured an English victory by a close margin of just 10 runs, providing an interesting turn of events in the Test match. This is also another close match that is regarded as one of the best Ashes tests.7. Old Trafford, 1993: The ball of the century

Shane Warne bowled the “Ball of the century”.

Match summary: Australia 289 & 432; England 210 & 332.

The first Test of the 1993 Ashes series was played at Old Trafford and it marked the arrival of probably one of the best Ashes cricketers of all time. Shane Warne was playing his first Ashes Test and with his first delivery itself, he knocked over England batsman Mike Gatting, who is known to be a great player of spin bowling.

The ball pitched outside leg and somehow gripped with the surface and clipped the bail on the off stump, surprising the batsman completely and rightly so, was given the title of  ‘The Ball of the Century’.

England lost the Test match by 179 runs, but the announcement of his arrival by ‘The king of spin’ was more worrying. That one solitary delivery is why the match at Old Trafford is regarded as one of the best Ashes tests6. The Oval, 1948: Just short of a perfect 100!

Bradman was out for a duck!

Match summary: England 52 & 188; Australia 389.

The Test match was a humiliating innings defeat for England, but the Test got more fame for another incident. A historic, yet sad one! Sir Don Bradman, arguably the best batsman to have played the game, was just 4 runs away from achieving the career average of 100. No one came near to that feat, not then, not until now.

After bowling England out for just 52 runs, Australia were on course to scoring a big total with both the openers, Morris and Barnes playing superbly. After Barnes fell, in came Bradman and the whole world was waiting for those 4 runs to be scored. But that wasn’t meant to be. England bowler Eric Hollies dismissed Bradman for a golden duck and the legendary batsman ended his career with an average of 99.94 runs per game. 5. Adelaide Test, 1993: The Test with Bodyline tactics.

The Test was described as a ‘shameful moment in England cricket history’.

Match summary: England 341 & 412; Australia 222 & 193.

The third Test at the Adelaide Oval is famous for the unsporting attitude and tactics used by the England bowlers that were against sportsmanship. The controversial Bodyline tactics that the England bowlers used were to combat the fearful Aussie top batting order that included the legendary Don Bradman.

The incident is described as a ‘shameful moment in English cricket’ since it was pretty evident what the bowlers were trying to do. The crowd booed and abused the English players with some players deciding on which stumps they would use to protect themselves if the situation went out of control.

MCC manager Pelham Warner came to visit Australian skipper Bill Woodfull, after he was struck on the chest. Woodfull unamusingly said, “I do not wish to see you Mr Warner, one team is playing cricket out there, the other is not.” Even though England won the Ashes 4-1, this incident did bring bad name to their reputation. 4. The Oval, 2005: Pietersen ensures England Ashes win. 

Pietersen scored his first Test century.

Match summary: England 373 & 335; Australia 367 & 4/0

The 2005 Ashes series was probably one of the best Ashes series ever with cricketing greats from both the countries fighting hard for the urn. This was the final Test of the series with England leading 2-1 and the match evenly poised.

The home side was to bat the whole of the final day to ensure a draw and an outstanding innings by Kevin Pietersen did the job for England. With 341 runs set for Australia to be achieved in less than 19 overs, the match ended in a draw and the home side side was victorious, regaining the urn! The closeness of the match makes this one of the best Ashes tests ever.3. Sophia Gardens, 2009: Jimmy and Monty to the rescue.

James Anderson and Monty Panesar ensured the draw.

Match summary: England 435 & 252; Australia 674.

Cardiff was hosting the first Ashes Test and this one would prove to be special. England had conceded a lead of 239, after Australia declared on a mammoth 674/6. In true English style the chase turned into a dramatic collapse, with many England fans fearing the worst. In came James Anderson and Monty Panesar, who managed to bat until 6.40 pm, therefore securing a draw.

Seldom do you see a dot ball being cheered so much, since it meant England saving their 2009 Ashes hopes. The media dubbed the drawn Test match as a ‘win’ for them. England’s fightback makes this one of the best Ashes tests in cricket.2. Edgbaston 2005: Lee almost snatching it away!

Andrew Flintoff consoles Brett Lee.

Match summary: England 407 & 182; Australia 308 & 279.

Australia were leading 1-0 and a win in the second Test would mean a stranglehold on the series with a lead of 2-0. England set Australia a target of 282 runs and with the middle order collapsing, an easy win for England was awaiting.

But the tail had other plans. Shane Warne hit a defiant 42, before Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz added 59 for the final wicket, looking to snatch  win from England’s hands. The nail-biting encounter gave goosebumps to everyone watching.

Australia were just two runs short of making one of the strongest comebacks in Test match history. England captain played his trump card, gave the ball to Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff bowled a short delivery to Kasprowicz and he snicked it. Geraint Jones took a diving catch to his left and the crowd erupted with joy.

Andrew Flintoff, instead of celebrating with the team, congratulated Brett Lee on his heroics and consoled him. The Test match became a symbol of how interesting and close a Test match can get. This is why it is one of the best Ashes tests in the history of the game.


Article continues below this ad

Ian Botham ripped the Australian attack apart.

Match summary: Australia 401 & 111; England 174 & 356.

The third Test at Headingley is probably the best Ashes Test match ever. From being in the worst of states in the Test to going on to win the match, England showed impeccable fighting spirit. With the hosts following on, a 2-0 lead for Australia looked almost certain. The result being in favor of the Aussies was so certain that the scoreboard read the odds of England winning as 500-1.


Article continues below this ad

Ian Botham played a magical innings, not only saving England from yet another humiliating defeat, but also put them in the driving seat. He made a defiant 149 runs and made Australia bat again. Bob Willis did the job for England as they crushed the Australian batting and bundled them for 111, winning the match by 18 runs.

This Test was tagged as the greatest comebacks not just in the Ashes Test series history, but the greatest in Test history! And so it earns a spot as one of the best Ashes tests.



Piyush Blaggan

40 articles