From Ashes to Ashes – Best of the Rivalry Since 1981 – Part 2/4

Abhishek Srivastava

In a month time, Cricket will witness resumption of its oldest and most prestigious rivalry THE ASHES between Australia and England; We look back to some of the most glorious performances in years gone by some of the finest cricketers of their times which defines this century-old rivalry

15. Mitchell Jhonson 7-40 2nd Test Adelaide and Brad Haddin 94, 1St at Gabba in 2013-14Mitchell Jhonson

Two performances which changed the complexion of the Ashes 2013-14 in Australia are on no. 15. At Gabba, in the First Test England were on top on the initial day of the Australian summer, with the scoreboard reading  6-132, it looked that England will start their Campaign with a bang, but 36-year-Old Brad Haddin had other Ideas. He not only played a vital inning of 94 but saved Australia from falling behind in the Test. Along with the tail, he added very terrorised 163 runs on last 4 Wickets. His innings took Australia to a safe 295. Though bowlers. runs the innings does not stand anywhere played by Haddin himself but in context of the game and the series, this was probably the most crucial inning of his Career.

In 2013-14, England not only lost the Ashes but deep scars were left on them, and a majority was contributed by Mitchell Jhonson who ripped England apart. Though Johnson was in such a supreme form that each of the spells he bowled was very threatening but if one has to select the impact spell it has to be Adelaide Oval in the second test when he troops shell-shocked the English batsmen on a flat track where Australia had already amassed Ashes, 570. Johnson cut through the English middle order picking up wickets of  Cook, Stokes, Prior, the three important players of the dismissed, His 7 wickets dislodged English innings to 172.

14 . Dean Headley 6-60 and Alec Stewart 107, 4th Test at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide 1998-99Alec Stewart

It’s hard to select one memorable performance over the other when both were equally important to the only win in 1998-99 Ashes for England. After England were 0-2 down going into the 4th Test with Ashes already gone, all that was left to play for was for Pride.  In such a moment England’s Captain Alec Stewart played a fantastic inning, he counterattacked Glen McGrath and Damien Fleming and notched up a brilliant hundred, his first against Australia. His dismissal saw England collapse from 200-3 to 270 All out. But his innings played a vital role in a test which England won by 12 runs.

In the Same test, when Australia was set a meager 175 to win, it was deemed that England was set for another Humiliation. However Dean Headley, Grandson of great Sir George Headley gave his best performance for England. He sliced through Australian Innings picking up the crucial Wickets of Slater, Mark Waugh, Darren Lehmann, Ian Healy. By the time Darren Gough caught Glenn McGrath plumb in front , Headley’s parents who were listening to the commentary on Radio in Midnight back in England were filled with pride and joy as their son bowled the Country to a remarkable win.

13. Nasser Hussain 207 floors Australia, 1st Test, Edgbaston, Birmingham, 1997Nasser Hussain

For almost Two decades 1989-2009, England could never take the lead in Ashes ( not even in Magna opus 2005) barring 1997 edition, When Michel Atherton men left  Mark Taylor’s troops shell-shocked. All thanks to Nasser Hussain’s double whammy which put England in the ascendancy after Andrew Caddick dislodged them on the first day for 118.

England were 50-3, and it looked once again they will create hara-kiri; however, Hussain and Graham Thorpe ensured that England put the first step right this time. A partnership of 288 gave England command of the test. Hussain played Warne, McGrath and Gillespie with a sense of authority. His innings mesmerised even great Christopher Martin Jenkins who wrote

This was classical batting, orthodox and artistic, the kind that captivates the imagination of the young,”

By the time Hussain was dismissed, he had taken England to a lead of almost 300 which helped them take 1-0 lead for the only time in nearly two decades.

12. Dean Jones Masterclass 184, 5th Test, Sydney 1986-87 and Graham Thorpe Brave 123, 5th Test Perth 1994-95Graham Thorpe

Australia had  just again failed to win the Ashes, and a home loss against England was the tipping point where the patience of the fans seems to be running out. In such a moment when a battered Australia saved some respect by beating England who have already retained the Ashes, it was enough to calm the things down. However large credit of that memorable win goes to Dean Jones who played one of the finest Ashes knocks. In an Inning that spread almost 11 hours and 421 balls, Jones took Australia to a score of respectability. He played the English attack with ease and comfort; it was a lesson for his fellow batsmen, who scummed to Dilley, Small and Botham. In the End, it was his innings that separated two teams as the margin of win was only 55 runs.

There was no second thought that Graham Thorpe was unarguably the best English batsman of 90s, he played some of the finest innings in his Ashes Career, be it debut hundred in 1993 or his big partnership with Nasser Hussain in 1997, he was always at the centre of English battles throughout the 90s.

Here we selected his defiant 123 at WACA in 1994. The innings which was lost amid the massive humiliation of England at Perth by a gigantic margin of 329, was indeed a masterclass which confirmed Thorpe’s growing status in English Cricket. In reply of Australia’s massive 402, England were all at sea with 77-4, but Thorpe instead of bogging down decided to take on the Australian bowlers.He smashed Warne, Angel and McGrath all over the WACA, the inning which lasted for 218 balls took England to the respectability only to make a mess in second innings. Thorpe finished the Ashes with 444 runs in 9 Innings almost 200 more than second run-getter from England.

11. Chris Broad stoic 112  secures Ashes, 4th Test, Melbourne,1986-87Chris Broad

Chris Broad indeed had a memorable summer down under, His 487 runs in 1986-87 Ashes was more than enough to defy the Cricket pundits who have laughed at England chances of retaining the urn terming a team which cannot bat, bowl, or field. While Broad hit three centuries, his maiden one at Perth, then Adelaide and the final one at Melbourne, but his 112  has been picked above the other two as the innings secured the Ashes. After Australia were gunned down for 141, it was important for England that they take a decisive lead and Broad continuing his sublime form, hit a century that ground the Australian attack. His 112 came off 255 balls with almost 5.30 hours that almost knocked the host out and ensured England a great Summer in Southern Hemisphere.


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