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Ashes History

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Ashes History - 1921-1938 [1861-1914 | 1946-1970 | 1970-Present]
by Jeff Green and Dave Liverman

The only 5-0 whitewash in Ashes history. Warwick Armstrong leads from the front with both bat and ball. Despite some great batting by Hobbs, Australia win all tests fairly comfortably. In the 1st Test Collins makes a century on debut, and Armstrong another hundred to set England a massive 659 to win (they fail by a wide margin). A century by Hobbs is unable to prevent an innings defeat in the second Test as Gregory's fast bowling is too much for England. Centuries for Collins, Kelleway, Pellew, Russell and Hobbs in the Third Test, again won comfortably by Australia as Mailey takes 5 wickets in each innings). Mailey stars again in an 8 wicket fourth Test win, taking 9 wickets in England's 2nd innings, and 13 in the match. Macartney's 170 and more wickets for Mailey complete a crushing 5-0 sweep.
Australia 5 England 0.

Armstrong's Australian's are unbeaten until the festival games at the end of the tour. Gregory and Mcdonald destroy England in the first 3 tests giving the Australians 8 wins on the trot. The last two Tests are drawn. England were without the services of Hobbs, except in the 3rd Test when illness prevented him batting. England might have won the 4th Test but for Tennyson (and the umpires) misunderstanding the declaration rules at the time. Carter (the Australian 'keeper) pointed out that the attempted declaration was too late in the day under a law introduced in 1914 but seemingly never used. In the confusion Armstrong managed to bowl the first over of Englands resumed innings, thus bowling 2 in a row. The tour will also be remembered for Macartney making 345* in less than 4 hours against Notts - the highest by an Australian in England and the most by one batsman in a day. Woolley makes a ninety in each innings of the Lord's test.
Australia 3 England 0.

Debuts for Ponsford, Sutcliffe, Maurice Tate and the first use of 8 ball overs in tests. Also the first radio commentary of Tests. Australia win 4-1 though the games were closer than that suggests. Hobbs and Sutcliffe have 4 century opening stands, the best 283 (taking more than a day) and Tate takes a then Ashes record 38 wickets. After good opening stands England's batting too often collapsed. The first three Tests go into a 7th day- all Tests were played without time restrictions. The first Test is won by Australia in a high scoring game, with hundreds for Hobbs, Woolley, Sutcliffe, Collins, JM Taylor and Ponsford (and 98 for Vic Richardson). A century in each innings for Sutcliffe in the second Test (who is on the field for all but 86 minutes of this 7 day match), but Australia win comfortably after a huge 1st innings total. The third Test is a close game, as Ryder's double century against a England attack weakened by injuries proves enough as England's batting fails in the second innings. England finally win the fourth Test against Australia 13 years after their last success. A fine opening partnership from Hobbs and Sutcliffe is followed by good batting throughout the order. Rain makes the wicket tricky, and England run out the winner by an innings, following good bowling from Tate. Clarrie Grimmett destroys England with 11 cheap wickets in the 5th Test in a fine demonstration of accurate and varied wrist spin.
Australia 4 England 1.

1925 and 1926 were the years of Hobbs' pomp. He scored around 3000 runs each year with 26 hundreds and 17 fifties. If this form was not quite shown in the Tests it was unthinkable in England that Hobbs would finish on the losing side. Nor did he, as the Australians lack the penetrating attack of previous tours and are not up to dismissing a strong batting side twice in 3 days, the English scarcely more so. However, after looking the more likely to win in the earlier matches the extra day and a rain affected pitch at the Oval, give England the chance to regain the Ashes which, thanks to Hobbs' and Sutcliffe's batting and the bowling of the veteran Rhodes they duly do. Only 50 minutes of play is possible in the 1st Test, and the 2nd is a high scoring draw, with centuries for Bardsley, Hendren, Hobbs and Macartney. In the 3rd Test. Macartney makes a hundred before lunch on the first day, and after further hundreds from Woodfull and V Richardson, England follow on. Another big opening stand by Sutcliffe and Hobbs ensures a draw. In the 4th game, Hobbs deputises as captain (the 1st professional since the 1880s to do so) but with the first day all but lost to rain a draw was always the likely result. The final Test is won by masterly batting on a rain damaged wicket by Hobbs and Sutcliffe (aided it was said by their deliberately playing and missing at AJ Richardson's off spin to keep him on ). No other batsmen on either side managed 50 in the 2nd innings and Rhodes bowls Australia all out for 125 with the assistance of a future scourge of Australia, Larwood.
England 1 Australia 0.

Surely the strongest batting line ups two sides have ever had to call on. England with Hobbs, Hendren, Hammond and Mead have the 4 batsmen with the most individual hundreds (each more than 150) and only Mead with an average of less than 50. Australia have Bradman and Ponsford together with Woodfull, Kippax and Ryder. Thus the scorers of the most hundreds (Hobbs 197) most double hundreds (Bradman 36 and Hammond 35), most triple hundreds (Bradman 6) and quadruple hundreds ( Bradman 2) were in the same place at the same time. With Larwood, Tate and Grimmett in the teams bowling was scarcely weak. The series is at the start one sidedly England's with the better bowling and the batting to exploit timeless tests and the wonderful Australian wickets, but Australia improve in each test. The 1st Test is the first ever played at Brisbane and the first in Australia in which a captain declared. It is also Bradman's somewhat unremarkable debut, as well as that of Hammond and Jardine. England win overwhelmingly (the largest Test win ever in terms of runs) after Larwood in the first innings and White in the second run through Australia's batting. Bradman is then dropped from the Australian team for the first and only time in his Test career, and misses another large defeat, with a double century for Hammond, and wickets for Geary and Tate. Blackie debuts for Australia at the age of 46, and is Australia's most successful bowler. The 3rd Test features another Hammond 200 replying to hundreds from Ryder and Kippax and a slow 79 from Bradman. Bradman's first of 19 Test centuries and a hundred from Woodfull enable Australia to set England a challenging target on an increasingly difficult wicket, but a century from Sutcliffe supported by Hobbs and Jardine is enough for the win. Hammond's astonishing run of form continues with a hundred in each innings in the 4th Test, and Bradman gets two 50s, the second ending when he is run out by Hobbs from cover (neatly reflecting Hobbs dismissal in the 1st Test). Archie Jackson makes a century on debut, but the Australians cannot cope with the spin of White (8 wickets in the second innings, 12 in the match) and England gain a narrow victory. The last Test has both England and Australia scoring over 500 in their first innings, but England's batting is less successful the second time round against the bowling of Wall, and Australia have little trouble reaching a modest target.
England 4 Australia 1.

Bradman! The Don finds himself in Test cricket on this tour. In 1928-9 he had been a successful batsman, but one of several; in England he is incomparable. He makes the highest score yet by an Australian in Test cricket, and follows this by making the highest score yet by anyone in test cricket. He finishes with an almost disappointing 232 at the Oval. During the last Ashes series his runs had been scored at about the same rate as his team-mates, here he scores quickly and assuredly. Almost never playing in the air and eschewing any shots he deems unwise, this still leaves him with a far greater range than that of any other batsman. He easily passes Hammond's record for runs in a series set two years ago, despite having only 7 innings and in 4 day tests (other than the last). Hammond himself is relatively unsuccessful and Hobbs at the age of 47 in his final series averages 33 and hits no hundreds. In the 1st Test, England have two steady innings but Australia's 1st was on a rain affected pitch and Tate has them in serious trouble with the exception of Kippax. Bradman's first Test century in England looks like ending Chapman's winning streak until he fails to read Robins' googly, and England win. The Lords test is a superb contest. Duleepsinhji rescues the first England innings with a brilliant century. Australia's reply is crushing, as Bradman makes what he later calls his best innings- 254, with scarcely a mis-hit. Grimmett takes 6 wickets, but Chapman makes a heroic century in England's second innings, and takes a stunning catch to dismiss Bradman as Australia momentarily falter before winning easily. The Leeds Test is remembered for Bradman's great innings. The Don scores 309 of his 334 on the first day before passing Sandham's test record score. England follow on, as Grimmett proves difficult to counter, but rain and bad light allow them to salvage a draw.In the 4th Test, a slow rain affected pitch sees the Australian batsmen struggle but eventually reach a fair total. Sutcliffe and Hobbs make their last century opening stand but the final day is abandoned to rain. Australia take the Ashes at the Oval. H Sutcliffe's century allows England to build a reasonable total, but first Ponsford and Woodfull, and then Bradman and Jackson on a lively wicket take the game away from England. Further rain washes out the 5th day but on the 6th conditions are perfect for Hornibrook's left arm spin and swing, and the result is inevitable.
Australia 2 England 1.

The Bodyline tour - bodyline was short pitched bowling on leg stump or aimed at the batsman, backed up by fields set all on the leg side of the wicket. The tactic is devised by Jardine to curtail Bradman; Jardine has studied Bradman closely and believes that his one weakness is that he does not get into position well for hooking and pulling. The great speed and accuracy of Larwood makes this tactic very effective and with the support of Voce and WE Bowes, England regain the Ashes though at the expense of Anglo-Australian relations.

Bradman misses the first test through illness but Larwood and Voce start the Bodyline experiment with 5 short legs and 2 men deep behind them. McCabe is the only batsman to suceed, hooking fearlessly, and playing one of the great innings in Test history. Hundreds from Sutcliffe, Hammond and Pataudi (on debut, like his predecessors Ranji and Duleep) give England a big lead. Sutcliffe's hundred is his 8th, his highest and his last in Ashes tests. Larwood takes 10 wickets in the match (bowling conventionally in the second innings), and England need only 1 to win in their second innings. Bradman returns for the 2nd Test but sensationally is out first ball, pulling a ball from Bill Bowes onto his stumps. The pitch favours spin, and England's attack is exclusively based on pace. Following a Bradman hundred in the second innings, and 10 wickets from O'Reilly ably supported by Wall and Ironmonger (playing in his 2nd Test at the age of 47), Australia win a low scoring game.

In the 3rd Test, bodyline causes a complete breakdown in relations between the sides, and a near riot. England bat well in their first innings, and at the start of the Australian innings, Woodfull recieves a severe blow over the heart from a ball from Larwood (bowling to a conventional field). When Woodfull is able to bat again, Jardine signals the field to the leg side, to the disgust and anger of the crowd. Only Ponsford sucessfully resists but mounted police are called to control the crowd when Oldfield mishooks a short ball from Larwood onto his own head and has to retire. England's batting is solid again and only Bradman, using unconventional methods against Larwood shows much resistance. The most successful bowler is Allen, who refuses to bowl bodyline throughout the tour.

Australia's batting is more successful in the 4th Test, and they look like obtaining a first innings lead until Eddie Paynter leaves his hospital bed to bat through the day in an innings heroic by any standards. He returns to hospital overnight but resumes in the morning to see England to a small lead. Larwood, Allen, and Verity then dismiss Australia, leaving a small target that is comfortably reached. In the final Test poor fielding by England helps Australia to a good total (Larwood 4 wickets) but Australia in turn drop Hammond more than once as he helps England to just pass them, Larwood makes 98 as nightwatchman and is cheered for the only time on the tour. Verity this time is the chief destroyer as he exploits a worn pitch. Only a stand between Bradman and Woodfull stops a complete rout. Ironmonger cannot repeat Verity's menace and England run out easy winners. Larwood's bowling in this test is "slowed by a splintered bone in his foot". He still finishes the series with 33 wickets at 19.51, but never plays for England again.
England 4 Australia 1.

No Larwood, Voce or Jardine makes this a very different England team but the batting and the spin bowling of both sides is still very strong. Hammond has a dreadful series and Bradman had 5 innings without a fifty before two of the best test innings ever played.

The first test shows the Australian spinners at their best on a dry, dusty wicket, the English batting never coming to terms with Grimmett and O'Reilly. Chipperfield's 99 on his debut for Australia is the top score of the match and England's bowling is lead by another debutant Farnes of Essex a tall fast left armer who has 10 wickets in the match but Australia run out easy winners.

The weather for the second test is very different; England make a good start with Ames making the only century by a wicket keeper in Ashes tests until Alan Knott in 1974-5 and Leyland also making a hundred. Australia reach 192/2 before heavy rain on the rest day turns the pitch into a typical English slow turner. Verity is in his element and Australia follow on. As the pitch dries it became still more spiteful and Verity duly wraps up what, with 7/61 and 8/43, becomes known as Verity's match.

In the 3rd Test, O'Reilly again takes seven English wickets in a innings (including 3 wickets in 4 balls, Hammond edging the hattrick ball for 4) but concedes 189 runs out of England's huge total. England cannot quite enforce the follow on after McCabe's century and though Sutcliffe and Walters put on quick runs to set a target Australia have no problems playing out time.

In the 4th test after England bat very badly, Bradman renews his love affair with Headingley. He joins comes in with Australia at 39/3 and when Ponsford is out Australia are 427/4. Although the rest of the side is dismissed quite cheaply England are 384 behind and seemingly sure of defeat. Batting little better in the second innings England struggle until rain save them.

On to the Oval, the best batting pitch in England and, with the series undecided, extra days available. The English are delighted when Australia were 21/1 but the next wicket falls after 451 runs are added. Bradman and Ponsford both with double centuries better their mammoth stand at Headingley with ease. Ponsford makes more runs in the end in this, his final, test. The rest of the team contribute and Australia better 700 for only the second time. Sutcliffe and Walters start with a century stand but few others look like staying until Leyland is joined by Ames. When Ames is unable to continue, due to crippling lumbago, the end was clear. Australia's second innings is just better than England's first, Bowes and Clarke each take 5 wickets. England need 708 to win on a worn pitch, an impossible task even if Ames were fit. Grimmett with 5 wickets completes a rout and England lose by a huge margin. Woolley had been recalled for this, his last test, at 47 and he keeps wicket after Ames withdraws (conceding a record number of byes).
Australia 2 England 1.


One of the most competitive series in Ashes history. Bradman takes over the Australian captaincy and Allen England's. England have little reason to believe they would reverse the result of the last series but the weather plays a part throughout and superb competitive cricket is evident in all the tests.

The first test - Worthington is out hooking the first ball and McCormick has England on the rack until lumbago forces him out of the attack as Leyland leads a recovery. Australia start well with a century for Fingleton before Voce takes the new ball and 6 wickets. Ward held England down in the 2nd innings with 6 wickets and Australia seem to have a chance with 380 to win. Fingleton is out to the first ball of the innings before overnight rain produces a real sticky dog of a wicket. From 16/5 their final total of 58 almost looks like a recovery but this was still probably the lowest total ever by a side including Bradman.

The second test is played at Sydney, which was as dear to Hammond as Headingley was to the Don. To prove the point he returns to form with a majestic unbeaten double century bringing his average in tests on the ground to an unlikely 250+. After each rain interruption during the England innings the pitch becomes increasingly difficult. A thunderstorm on the 3rd morning completes the transformation and Australia are in serious trouble. 3 wickets fell on 1 including Bradman for a second successive duck, and for the second time in a row they are shot out for under 100. Allen then has to decide whether to enforce the follow on, a rare occurrence in Australia's timeless matches, or to bat. His decision to put Australia back in looks a mistake as on a still very treacherous pitch Bradman and Fingleton put together a second wicket century partnership. After a Sims googly dismisses the Don only McCabe held up the English. He was out lbw to a ball he appeared to have hit and an England innings victory was duly recorded.

On to Melbourne Australia appeared to be about to hand over the Ashes losing 6 wickets cheaply, but a late order recovery on a worsening pitch gives something for their bowlers to aim at. Bradman declares to force England to bat when conditions were at their worst. Hammond's 32 is described as one of the best innings of his life as O'Reilly and the medium pacer Sievers make the ball rear and shoot from a good length. Most pundits feel that England should declare and put Australia back in while the pitch was still almost unplayable, but Allen delays and when the declaration finally comes the pitch is already easing. Bradman sends in the tail ahead of himself to give still more time for improvement and he with a double century batting at 7 and Fingleton take Australia to the score of 564. The pitch is still poor for most of the innings perhaps shown by Bradman taking 110 in singles and only 88 in boundaries. Bradman had been unwell for much of his innings and McCabe captains Australia as England set about getting almost 700 with a relish. Runs come at a good rate with Leyland recording his 6th Ashes century but wickets fall all the while and England do not even reach half way. A record 350,534 watch the game.

At Adelaide England bowl and field well to dismiss their opponents for under 300 on a good pitch. When the visitors seem set for a big lead O'Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith spin the Australians back into the game. The deficit is quickly wiped out as Bradman makes a double hundred with Hammond leading the bowlers with 5 wickets. Fleetwood-Smith teases and spins England to defeat and the series is level.

England start the 5th test well again but Bradman and McCabe turn things around before Badcock and Gregory take Australia to an imposing total. The English openers start at over 2 runs a minute but Barnett is soon out before rain deadens the pitch making fast scoring impossible. As the pitch dries it becomes spiteful and the result becomes inevitable. O'Reilly and Nash run through the batting and England follow on almost 400 behind. The pitch is still worsening and only Hammond and Barnett's partnership allows England to achieve respectability as the Ashes are retained with an innings and 200 run win.
Australia 3 England 2.

Another year of impossible batting exploits. Hammond is now England captain. Bradman is now settled as a confident captain of Australia. He passes Hobbs' Ashes records of 12 centuries and makes 3636 runs during the series. Names that were to become legends made debuts during the summer and finally at the Oval all sorts of batting records are demolished in what is for many years the one set of numbers that every English schoolboy could remember. In the end the batting is too good, 4 day matches too short and with the Manchester test abandoned without a ball being bowled only 2 results are achieved. A win apiece and the Ashes retained by the Australians.

In the first test Hammond wins the toss and bats. Barnett and Hutton in his first Ashes game have a big opening stand. Paynter keeps up the pace and is joined by Compton, also new to the Ashes, who angers his captain by getting out to a loose shot when quick runs are needed. Hammond declares with 658 runs were on the board. The rest of the second day is England's but the third belongs to McCabe. His 232 runs include 213 on that day, out of 273 while he is at the wicket. When the 7th wicket falls he is on 105. His second hundred takes 84 minutes, its second half just 24. Six fielders are on the boundary as he scores 72 of Australia's last 77 runs with number 11 Fleetwood-Smith an admiring spectator. Nonetheless Australia follow on with Bradman making a defensive century and with Brown helping sees out the last day.

The second Test at Lord's could have gone any of three ways but ends as a draw. Hammond, in his most imperious form is helped by Paynter and Ames as England recover after early problems against McCormick who exploits a lively pitch and the oft denied Lord's ridge. Brown carries his bat, making the 100th century for Australia against England. Compton drops Fleetwood-Smith to deprive Farnes of a hat-trick. McCormick almost gives Australia a chance to win but Compton and Wellard allow Hammond to declare with a safe lead. Bradman for once does not really try for the win, but scores up the 200th century in these matches, establishing a new record aggregate in the process.

Headingley was always Bradman's favourite ground but in relative terms he fails this time, only managing 103. McCormick's pace, Fleetwood-Smith and especially O'Reilly's spin are too much for all the English apart from Hammond. In reply Bradman plays one of his best bad wicket innings and Australia have a small lead. In the second innings no Englishman withstands O'Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith for long. Hassett is missed at slip before he has scored and a 5 wicket win is achieved.

That game at the Oval. Hammond tells his men that no total is too high and they believe him. Compton makes 1 and Paynter 0 but all the rest contribute on a placid wicket. Leyland completes a century in his last test as he had in his first. Hutton of course dominates. He reaches 200 in 468 minutes before picking up the pace. He is in the nervous 330s for a while before a square cut 4 takes him past Bradman's record. When he is eventually out he has batted for 797 minutes while 770 runs were added. Bradman falls whilst bowling and breaks his shinbone. With Fingleton also injured the match is a foregone conclusion. Bowes in the first innings and Farnes on the follow on run through the remaining batting. Only Brown shows much resistance.
Australia 1 England 1.

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