The Ashes – one of the most coveted tournaments in the history of Cricket – has begun and everyone has started playing their mind-games and applying their tactics on the opponent team. But Ashes has been a very precious relic in the the mausoleum of cricketing memories. Here’s a piece celebrating the sheer legacy of this tournament and highlights some interesting facts before the 2018 Ashes series begins!
The inception of the Ashes goes along with the inception of the game itself. The Englishmen, who were the founders of the game popularized it Down Under, that is, in Australia, which was one of their colonies then. There, they contested the first full fledged test series in 1872 which comprised of just one match. England lost that match by 7 runs and faced utter criticism from their home crowd. The English media mocked the team by saying that English cricket was dead and its ashes would be taken to Australia. This gave birth to the notion of Ashes and from then on Ashes is played after every two years and whomsoever wins it, is said to regain the ashes. This time, England are touring Australia for the 2018 Ashes series.
Victory after follow on
It is said that cricket is a game of uncertainties but when it comes to Ashes, these uncertainties reach an entirely different level. Winning after follow on is considered as one of the rarest phenomenon in international cricket. It has occurred only thrice and shockingly twice in the Ashes, both by England – one at Sydney in 1894 and one at Leeds in 1981 (The third instance being the famous Kolkata test between India and Australia in 2001). Ironically, in all the three instances, Australia have always been on the receiving end. Can Australia turn it around in the 2018 Ashes series?
Head to Head
Total tests = 336 = Australia 138, England 105, Draws 93.
In Australia = 175 = Australia 91, England 57, Draws 27.
In England = 161 = England 48, Australia 47, Draws 66.
High’s and Low’s!
The highest total ever recorded in ashes has been a mammoth 903/7 by England way back in 1938 courtesy a splendid innings from Len Hutton(364) by virtue of which England inflicted the most crushing defeat in the history of Test Cricket, that is, by an innings and 579 runs.
The lowest total ever recorded in ashes is a paltry 36 by the Aussies way back in 1902. Surprisingly, Australia had a narrow escape and managed to salvage a draw.
The body-line series was famous for a notorious tactic of body-line bowling which was employed by England bowlers to counter the growing influence of Australian batsmen, especially Don Bradman. It involved targeting the body of the batsmen and intimidating them. Such was the extent of this tactic that in one match, out of 11 batsmen, 7 were retired hurt. England although won that Ashes but such tactics soured the relations between the two nations.
Most Prolific Batsmen
Although Don Bradman stands outright in list of top Ashes batsmen, with four triple centuries and an illustrious record, but the record for highest score in Ashes is held by Len Hutton, 364 as mentioned earlier, in a test match where many records were broken and created.
A Tight Finish, Indeed!
Test matches are often lamented for being long and boring but Ashes has produced one of the finest, intense and thrilling encounters. One of the examples is famous 2005 Edgbaston test which resulted in an English win but by a narrow margin of 2 runs. This was the third closest test match in the history of Test Cricket in terms of run-margin. (The other 2 being tied tests). This is certainly one of the most interesting Ashes facts.
Best bowling figures
Jim Laker’s 19/90 at Manchester remains not just the best bowling performance ever in Ashes but in Test Cricket’s history, overall. The only wicket that Laker didn’t get was of Jim Burke (falling to Tony Lock). 16 for 137 by Bob Messie at Lords in 1972 was Australia’s best in Ashes.
Most Runs in Ashes
English and Aussie young cricketers dream of playing in the Ashes series and making a mark for themselves in the Cricketing World. The best of batting marks have been made by Don Bradman for his 5028 runs against England with an average of 89.78. Bradman also has most centuries in Ashes, that is, 19. Most runs by one Englishman is by Jack Hobbs for his 3636 compilation in 41 Ashes test matches.
The final fact in our interesting Ashes facts list. Shane Warne is no stranger to any Cricket fan in this entire world, especially not to English fans, as he is the highest wicket taker in Ashes series with a record of 172 wickets from 31 Ashes matches at an average of 22.30.