Ashes History - 1970-Present
by Rick Eyre/Stephen Lamb
The first scheduled six-Test series becomes the only seven-Test series in history when the Third Test is washed out and an extra game is added. Ray Illingworth's MCC tourists were opposed to Bill Lawry's Australians. Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh all made illustrious debuts in this series. The first two Tests were drawn and the third abandoned, England won the fourth Test in Sydney by 299 runs with some fierce quickbowling by John Snow, 7-40 in the second innings. Draws in the Fifth and Sixth Tests made the Ashes safe for England. Lawry was axed for the Seventh Test and Ian Chappell was appointed Australian captain. Another England victory, but not before Illingworth took his team off the field on the second day following a crowd disturbance centred around John Snow - an episode which almost resulted in England forfeiting the match.
England 2 Australia 0.
A highly entertaining series under the captaincy of Ray Illingworth and Ian Chappell saw four of the five Tests finish in results. John Snow, Dennis Lillee and Derek Underwood all gave match-winning bowling performances, but no one had a more spectacular gamethan Australian swing bowler Bob Massie on his debut in the Second Test at Lord's - 8 wickets for 84 runs in the first innings, and another 8 wickets for 53 in the second. The Ashes were retained by England in the Fourth Test at Headingley, where Underwood spun the home team to victory on a controversial grassless pitch inside three days. Australia won the final Test at The Oval in six days as Chappells Ian and Greg became the first brothers to score Test centuries together,
sharing a 201 partnership.
England 2 Australia 2.
The first injury-free pairing of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson at the Gabba ushered in a new era of Australian dominance of these contests. A Boycott-less England, led by Mike Denness, had their five specialist batsmen all over the age of thirty and the 42 year-old Colin Cowdrey flownout as an emergency replacement. Australia won the first two Tests, the highlight at the WACA being a blistering tea-to-stumps century by Doug Walters. The Boxing Day Test at the MCG was drawn with Australia eight runs short of victory and just two wickets in hand. The Fourth Test in Sydney saw the Ashes return to Australia as Greg Chappell caught Arnold off Mallett on the fifth day. With the series decided, Australia won the fifth Test,
but England came back to win the final Test with Denness making the highest score by an England captain in Australia (188). Thomson took 33 wickets in a series that ended for him one-and-a-half Tests early through a rest-day tennis injury.
Australia 4 England 1.
A four-match series arranged following the removal of a South African tour from the calendar. A crushing innings victory by Australia in the opening Test at Edgbaston, and Denness was axed as both player and captain for the second. His fall from grace was swift following consecutive 180's against Australia and New Zealand just five months earlier. Graham Gooch's twenty-year Test career began at Edgbaston with a pair. Tony Greig took over as England captain, but he and Ian Chappell could engineer no further results in the series. The Third Test at Headingley was ruined when demonstrators vandalised the wicket on the fourth evening and forced the match's curtailment. But the lasting memory of the series was of 33 year-old debutant batsman David Steele standing up to the firepower of Lillee and Thomson to score 365 runs at 60.83.
Australia 1 England 0.
A one-off Test played at the MCG to celebrate the centenary of the initial Test match encounter at the same ground. Although the Ashes were not at stake, this was arguably the most entertaining Test match of the 1970's. Australia recovered from their first innings dismissal for 138 to bowl England over for just 95 - Lillee's 6 for 26 the standout. Australia's second innings was marked by two memorable occasions: David Hookes' five consecutive fours off Tony Greig, and Rick McCosker's brave late-order 25 while nursing a jaw broken in the first innings by Bob Willis. England needed 453 to win, and Derek Randall's 174 nearly made it possible until Lillee took the final wickets in the last scheduled hour of play. Australia's margin of victory, 45 runs, was exactly the same as in that first Test 100 years earlier.
A series played against the backdrop of the announcement of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, for whom most (but not all) of the Australian touring party had signed up. Lillee was unavailable for this tour, as it transpired to maintain his fitness for WSC. Tony Greig's pre-series axing as England's captain due to his involvement in the WSC machinations saw Mike Brearley take the leader's role. England were one-up after the Second Test when Geoff Boycott was recalled, and 21 year-old Ian Botham introduced, to the England eleven. Each played major roles in the Third Test victory at Trent Bridge. The Headingley Test began with Boycott making his 100th first-class hundred on his home ground. Botham took 5-21 when Australia's first innings total of 103 was barely half of Boycott's 191. When Randall caught Marsh off Hendrick on the fifth day, the Ashes were England's once more. The Oval Test was drawn, and international cricket was about to change forever.
England 3 Australia 0.
An Australian side decimated by World Series Cricket, but for England the absence of Greig, Knott and Underwood permitted the emergence of Botham, Taylor and Emburey. Bob Simpson's re-retirement meant that Graham Yallop was elevated to the Australian captaincy. When Australia were 26 for 6 on the opening morning of the First Test the tone was set for the summer. Rodney Hogg's phenomenal debut series (41 wickets at 12.85) was not enough as the Australian batsmen lacked consistency and the team lacked cohesion. The home side achieved a solitary victory in a Melbourne Third Test more notable in hindsight for the low-key debut of Allan Border. The rest of the series was one-way traffic as Mike Brearley enhanced his reputation as the best captain of the era. England's biggest victory ever in this contest.
England 5 Australia 1.
In the summer of reconciliation between Packer and the Establishment, this three-Test series was scheduled to run concurrently with an Australia-West Indies series. The TCCB declined to allow the Ashes to be at stake - a wise decision in hindsight. A full-strength Australian side was too much for their opponents to handle - the pace trio of Lillee, Pascoe and Dymock taking control in each game. Three centuries were scored in the series, but the number of near-misses was extraordinary: in the First Test, Hughes was out for 99, and Boycott carried his bat for 99 not out; in the Second, Gower made 98 not out and Greg Chappell was on 98 when the winning runs were scored; in the Third, Gooch was run out one short of his maiden Test hundred. For Mike Brearley, this series was the major blemish in an otherwise distinguished career.
Australia 3 England 0. (The Ashes not at stake)
A one-off Test held at Lord's to commemorate the centenary of the first Test match played in England (despite the 1880 game being played at The Oval). The Ashes were not at stake in this rain-affected match. The strokeplay of Kim Hughes (117 and 84) was the highlight.
This series can be classified in two parts, Part One - Botham the Captain, and Part Two - Botham the Genius.
Part One began as Australia, led by Kim Hughes in Greg Chappell's absence, won a low-scoring First Test at Trent Bridge, thanks mainly to the bowling of Dennis Lillee and debutant Terry Alderman. The Second Test was a draw, unremarkable save for Geoff Lawson's 7-81, but for the England selectors, Botham's winless record in 13 Tests as captain was enough. With Botham freed up to concentrate on his all-round battting and bowling skills, the new England captain was recalled from county cricket - Mike Brearley. End of Part One, start of Part Two.
In the Third Test at Headingley, England had followed on and were 135 for 7 facing innings defeat. Botham blasted 149 not out to push England in front and set Australia a target of 130 to win. They fell for 111, Willis taking 8 for 43. At Edgbaston in the Fourth Test, Australia needed 151 for victory when Botham ripped through the lower order to secure a 29-run England victory. And the star of England's Fifth Test victory at Old Trafford was I.T. Botham whose second innings 118 was scored from only 102 balls. Alderman and Lillee were the outstanding wicket-takers (42 and 39 wickets respectively), but Botham's all-round achievements (399 runs and 34 wickets) were all the difference.
England 3 Australia 1.
Greg Chappell and Bob Willis were opposing captains in this series. Terry Alderman made an early exit when he suffered a shoulder injury in an altercation with a pitch intruder during the First Test, a match which was also Lillee's final Test against England. Australia were two-up after the Third Test. The Fourth Test in Melbourne was won by England by just three runs - a legendary match with little in it throughout. The Ashes returned to Australia when England declined the challenge of a 460-run target on the final day of the Sydney Test. Geoff Lawson was the outstanding bowler of the series, while Kepler Wessels scored 162 on debut for his adopted country at the Gabba.
Australia 2 England 1.
The Australian team was disrupted before the tour commenced when three players were dropped after signing up for a rebel tour of South Africa - among them Terry Alderman. David Gower and Allan Border were the opposing captains. A series noted for several large centuries among batsmen from both sides. The series was tied at one-a-piece after four Tests before England took control of each of the last two tests by an innings. At the heart of the two victories were some splendid swing bowling from Richard Ellison, and two triple century partnerships involving Gower (331 with Robinson at Edgbaston, 351 with Gooch at The Oval). Australia's bowling attack was shallow and undisciplined. The Ashes returned to England when Murray Bennett hit a return catch to Ellison to conclude the series.
England 3 Australia 1.
An England combination just about at their peak during this tour under Mike Gatting's captaincy. A high scoring series where a few inspired bowling displays made the difference. Chris Broad scored three centuries for England while Botham blasted a rapid 138 in the First Test victory at the Gabba. The series was settled in the Fourth Test at the MCG when Gladstone Small spearheaded an innings victory inside three days. Australia regained some respect in an exciting final Test on an SCG spinner's pitch.
England 2 Australia 1.
A one-off Test held at the Sydney Cricket Ground as part of the celebrations of the bicentenary of British settlement in Australia. Chris Broad's fourth Test century on Australian soil was marred when he smashed the stumps with his bat when given out. Australia were forced to follow-on, but an unbeaten eight-hour 184 by David Boon saw the home team safely to a draw. The Ashes were not at stake in this match.
The tone of this series was set when Australia declared their First Test first innings closed at 601 for 7. In every Test they scored at least 424 runs in the first innings. Mark Taylor scored 839 runs for the series, and he and Geoff Marsh batted unbeaten right through the opening day of the Trent Bridge Test on their way to a record opening stand of 329. Steve Waugh lost his wicket for the first time in the series during the Third Test having already scored two big centuries. Terry Alderman took 41 wickets to add to his 1981 haul. David Gower's Englishmen were hit by injuries and poor form, and then the announcement of the rebel English touring team to South Africa during the Fourth Test forced more changes - in all, twenty-nine players represented England across the six Tests. Australia regained the Ashes in
the Fourth Test at Old Trafford when David Boon swept Nick Cook to the boundary. A resounding and unexpected series victory to Allan Border's men.
Australia 4 England 0.
Australia's pace bowlers (Reid, Alderman, Hughes, McDermott) were the dominant figures in this series, especially Bruce Reid who took thirteen wickets in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne. Mark Waugh replaced his brother Steve in the Australian team at Adelaide, and duly responded with a debut century. The two drawn matches both saw England attempt, but fail, to reach ambitious run targets, despite a 203 opening stand between Gooch and Atherton in Adelaide.
Australia 3 England 0.
The defining moment of this series occurred on the second day of the opening Test, when Shane Warne bowled Mike Gatting withan unplayable leg break for his first delivery of the series. Warne took 34 wickets for the series with some kaleidoscopic spin bowling and received valuable assistance from Tim May, Merv Hughes and Paul Reiffel. Heavy scoring by the Australian bats was the order of the day, with all of the top seven in the batting order contributing at least one century, Boon registering three. In Michael Slater the tourists unearthed a heavy-scoring opening partner for Mark Taylor - they contributed 260 at the top of the order in the Lord's Test. Border and Steve Waugh's unbeaten stand of 332 at Headingley was the biggest partnership of the series. Mike Atherton replaced Gooch as captain after the Fourth Test, and both were easily the most consistent England batsmen of the summer. Twenty-four players were tried for England during a series which saw the departure of erratic chairman of selectors Ted Dexter. Thorpe scored a century on debut at Trent Bridge, while the pace attack of Malcolm, Fraser and Watkin gained England a belated victory at The Oval. Border's team achieved two innings victories in his third and last series as victorious Ashes captain.
Australia 4 England 1.
Mark Taylor's Australians carried on where Border left off, with the home team's series marked by wide margins of victory, heavy scoring by the batsmen, and domination by Shane Warne and Craig McDermott - Warne finishing off the MCG Test with a hat-trick. England's pace bowlers engineered a victory at Adelaide and nearly did the same in the preceding Test in Sydney where Australia succeeded in a desperate struggle to a draw. Gooch and Gatting ended their long international careers in this series, while Greg Blewett started his with a century in each of his first two Tests.
Australia 3 England 1.
The Australians, captained by Mark Taylor, started the series shakily when they lost eight wickets in the first twenty overs of the series. Hussain's double century was the standout of England's thumping four-day victory at Edgbaston, but Taylor's courageous century when his career seemed all washed up, was an emotional highlight. Glenn McGrath's 8/38 at Lord's was the lasting memory of a rain-affected draw. The Australian juggernaut gathered momentum as the series progressed, and they drew level with a big win at Old Trafford highlighted by dual centuries from Steve Waugh. Headingley brought an innings victory, and when Mark
Waugh caught Devon Malcolm off McGrath's bowling the Nottingham Test was won and the Ashes remained in Australia's keeping. An exciting England victory at The Oval gave them a scoreline that flattered against a powerful Australian outfit under a brilliant leader.
Australia 3 England 2.
Like 1997, Mark Taylor's Australians were dominant - but like 1997, they dropped their guard often enough to keep the interest alive. Alec Stewart's Englishmen were saved from defeat in Brisbane by a ferocious last-day thunderstorm. No such luck in Perth where they were obliterated in two and a half days. When Peter Such fell leg before to Glenn McGrath at Adelaide the Ashes were retained before Christmas. Steve Waugh rescued Australia from batting collapse in this series several times. Michael Slater's three second innings centuries all set up unbeatable leads, while Stuart MacGill showed that Shane Warne - unavailable till the last Test - was not missed. For England it was the bowlers who provided the only
joy, especially Dean Headley - who spearheaded an amazing 12-run win at
Melbourne - and Darren Gough, whose hat-trick in Sydney was like something out of a dream.
Australia was presented for the first time with a new crystal replica of the Ashes urn.
Australia 3 England 1.
Englandís build-up to the 2001 series was disrupted by a string of injuries. Although Nasser
Hussain led the side in the first Test at Edgbaston,
the batting line-up was weakened there by the absence of Graham Thorpe and Michael Vaughan. Hussain was himself forced to miss the next two
Tests with a broken finger. With Ashley Giles suffering from a long-term Achilles problem, England
were at no stage able to field their first-choice XI. That said, in the face of truly magnificent
Australian opposition, it is doubtful whether the outcome would have been very different. The
tourists retained the Ashes at the earliest opportunity, going 3-0 up at Trent Bridge after
dominating session after session. England compounded their problems by spilling several catches at Lord's,
including the awesome Adam Gilchrist, who left an indelible impression on his first Test series in England. Steve Waugh was at his least movable, twin Mark at his most sublime. Glenn McGrath
and Shane Warne again proved that they are world-beaters. But for the flash of inspiration when Mark
Butcher played the innings of his life at Leeds, the
series would likely have ended 5-0. Australia won by an innings at The Oval,
and Michael Atherton retired without an Ashes-winning series to his credit.
Australia 4 England 1