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Greatest ever Ashes series?

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
What are the greatest Ashes series ever played?

With the first Ashes since probably the early 70s where the sides could legitimately be called the top two in the world on the way, it seems as good a time for this question as any.

Having watched some footage of it this morning, I am inclined to pick out the series in England in 1981. Australia took the first test on a lethal pitch through some heroism from Border and some great bowling from Lillee and a debuting Alderman, then after the second test was drawn and Botham resigned from the captaincy it generally looked like Australia were favourites to take the series. From there we saw the beginning of "Botham's Ashes", when he put in brilliant man of the match performances in each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th tests to guide England to an unassailable 3-1 lead. The 3rd test in Headlingly is the most famous of course, where Botham, having taken 6 wickets in the first innings with the ball and top scored with 50 with the bat, came to the crease with England 5 down and still 122 runs behind and following-on. He hit 149 at a run a ball to set up a target of 130 for Australia, and then Bob Willis destroyed the Australians with 8/43 to tie the series at 1-1. The 4th test is somewhat overlooked in the shadow of this, but it took an equally remarkable performance as Australia were set a moderate 151 to win in the fourth innings and passed 100 with four down, only to have Botham produce a stunning spell of 5/11 to leave them 30 runs short and put England on top in the series. The fifth test was more one-sided, where a second innings Botham century helped England set Australia an impossible 505 to win, only to have a rampaging Yallop and a sedate Border take Australia withing sight of winning and then saving the match with vital hundreds. In the final test Australia got on top through a century and an 80 odd to Border and 11 wickets to Lillee, only to have Knott and Brearley squeeze out a draw for England with a vital 5th day stand.

It was a series with everything, where both sides looked capable of winning it at various stages, fantastic individual performances from the likes of Botham, Willis, Border, Lillee and Alderman, and all six games going down to the wire in one manner or another, but particularly the third and fourth tests being all time classics.

The other contender that springs to mind is the 1930 Ashes in England. Billed as the battle between Bradman and Hammond to decide who was the greatest batsman in the world, a 22 year old Bradman wound up hitting a world record 974 runs, including two of his greatest innings at Lords and Headlingly, with his 334 at Headlingly being perhaps his greatest of all. England took the first test and Australia the second, and things were still tied heading into the final test where Australia dominated and won by an innings to take the series.
 

SquidAU

First Class Debutant
It is very hard to pick one Ashes series that has been the best....it's all about opinion and I can only give one from the Ashes series I have watched, but I'll give it a go!

I would agree that the 1981 Ashes is certainly one of those great series, if only because of Botham!

Of the ones I have watched, I would be inclined to say the 1997 Ashes, simply because it is the only one I have seen where the Aussies actually had a chance of losing the Ashes, after losing the 3 ODI's and then the 1st Test. That whole series was a fight for the Aussies and one Ashes that will sit in my mind for a long time.

I, for one, wouldn't have minded being around for the 1932/33 series in Australia...the infamous Bodyline series. After reading alot about it, I would think the Aussies were lucky to get away without any one being seriously hurt. It created alot of tension between England and Australia and nearly killed the Ashes till everyone came to their senses.
 

Top_Cat

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I heard the 1953 series when England won the urn back after 19 years was a really great series.

But of the ones I've seen, 1997 in England was a good one and the last two Tests in the 1998/99 series in Melbourne and Sydney were fantastic (especially Melbourne).
 

Anil

International Coach
the 1981 series in england is my favourite...that's what firmed up my interest in cricket in the 1st place....it was a wonderful advertisement for cricket!
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
I think 32/33 has to be the most resonant test series ever. I would've loved to have been in the crowd when Jardine set a leg-theory field.

Of the ones I've seen I guess 1997 was the closest to a decent contest. Although even by the 2nd test it was apparent we'd just caught the Aussies cold in the 1st. Great innings from Taylor in the 2nd innings of the 1st too; he'd been under absolutely enormous pressure, with one of the Chappels (I forget which) being particularly vociferous.
 

marc71178

Eyes not spreadsheets
Oh, that first morning of the 97 series - middle of my 'A' levels and I thought I'd just watch the first couple of overs before revising.

I didn't get the books out ;)
 

wpdavid

International Coach
I actually managed to miss most of the 1981 series. My month's travelling on Inter-rail began after the 3rd day of the Leeds test, so the first I knew about Botham's 149 was a couple of days later reading about in Zurich, and the only English paper I could find was the FT, so the coverage wasn't great. I vageuly remember reading about Edgaston in various parts of Greece and Old Trafford in Amsterdam & Brussels, arriving back for the dead rubber of a final test. Still, it was a good trip.

My favourite was the 1977 series, when we won back the ashes against a still pretty good Aus side. Being objective, the cricket wasn't that great, but I really enjoyed it. The series I would love to have seen was Tyson's series in 1954/55. Lots of great players on both sides, and the right result at the end.
 

biased indian

International Coach
how far away is ashes guys???

i think we are having a lot of new threads on ashes how about having a Pre-series STICKY
for ashes discussions!!
 

SquidAU

First Class Debutant
biased indian said:
how far away is ashes guys???

i think we are having a lot of new threads on ashes how about having a Pre-series STICKY
for ashes discussions!!
Ashes Tests don't start till July, IIRC.

It's a bloody long wait and theres not cricket on here in Australia. Not even a foreign series.

I think I'm starting to get withdrawals.
 

JBH001

International Regular
The 1902 series - the first of the all time great Australian sides up against a very powerful English outfit.
Australia take the series (2 -1 I think? after having been in trouble earlier in the series) with England winning the famous last test at the Oval due to that famous last wicket partnership between George Hirst ('we'll get em in singles, Wilfred') and Wilfred Rhodes (whose first scoring shot was actually a boundary).
They did get England home, confirming the views of one spectator who was heard to say, as Rhodes walked out to bat, that all would be well now that 2 Yorkshiremen were at the crease.
Apparently another spectator fell down dead while watching and another chewed through his umbrella handle, due to the tension.

The 1926 series which saw England reclaim the Ashes for the first time since WW1 after 4 drawn tests.
Their win at the Oval built on a century opening stand on a treacherous wicket between Hobbs and Sutcliffe - probably the greatest opening pair of all time.

The 1932/33 Bodyline series.

The 1953 Ashes series. England win the last test after having drawn the 4 previous tests.

The 1981 Ashes series. Bothams Ashes etc.
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
JBH001 said:
The 1902 series - the first of the all time great Australian sides up against a very powerful English outfit.
Australia take the series (2 -1 I think? after having been in trouble earlier in the series) with England winning the famous last test at the Oval due to that famous last wicket partnership between George Hirst ('we'll get em in singles, Wilfred') and Wilfred Rhodes (whose first scoring shot was actually a boundary).
They did get England home, confirming the views of one spectator who was heard to say, as Rhodes walked out to bat, that all would be well now that 2 Yorkshiremen were at the crease.
Apparently another spectator fell down dead while watching and another chewed through his umbrella handle, due to the tension.

The 1926 series which saw England reclaim the Ashes for the first time since WW1 after 4 drawn tests.
Their win at the Oval built on a century opening stand on a treacherous wicket between Hobbs and Sutcliffe - probably the greatest opening pair of all time.

The 1932/33 Bodyline series.

The 1953 Ashes series. England win the last test after having drawn the 4 previous tests.

The 1981 Ashes series. Bothams Ashes etc.
I am not disputing that these were great series. But isnt it a big coincidence that most of the great Ashes series have been those won by England ??

Is it because England really had to struggle and have been underdogs ?

Is it because the British romaticise much more ?

Is it because most of cricket history has been written by the British ?

Is it that you are an English fan :D ?
 

FaaipDeOiad

Hall of Fame Member
SJS said:
I am not disputing that these were great series. But isnt it a big coincidence that most of the great Ashes series have been those won by England ??

Is it because England really had to struggle and have been underdogs ?

Is it because the British romaticise much more ?

Is it because most of cricket history has been written by the British ?

Is it that you are an English fan :D ?
Well, I'm not an English fan and I nominated the 81 Ashes, which England won. :D

For me, a great series is quite simply one which is evenly matched, unpredictable and has high quality cricket. It also helps if you have the sort of remarkable individual performances that everyone remembers beyond the result of individual tests. Series like 1992/93 Australia v West Indies, and the rematch between those teams in 95, and the 2001 India v Australia series... they fit the bill for me, and stand as the best series I have ever seen live, even though Australia lost two of them.
 

Swervy

International Captain
FaaipDeOiad said:
Well, I'm not an English fan and I nominated the 81 Ashes, which England won. :D

For me, a great series is quite simply one which is evenly matched, unpredictable and has high quality cricket. It also helps if you have the sort of remarkable individual performances that everyone remembers beyond the result of individual tests. Series like 1992/93 Australia v West Indies, and the rematch between those teams in 95, and the 2001 India v Australia series... they fit the bill for me, and stand as the best series I have ever seen live, even though Australia lost two of them.
Same here..an Aussie here who regards the 81 series the best (that I have seen anyway)
 

luckyeddie

Cricket Web Staff Member
<quack> 1958-59, without a shadow of doubt

Why? It was too one-sided to be great

<quack> Greatest travesty in the name of cricket

Tell me more

<quack> People will have to guess
 

luckyeddie

Cricket Web Staff Member
Nope. I'll put you all out of your misery.

There were SIX chuckers used (2 English, 4 Aussies).

Nice gag about Mr Cheaty Sr
 

SJS

Hall of Fame Member
luckyeddie said:
Nope. I'll put you all out of your misery.

There were SIX chuckers used (2 English, 4 Aussies).

Nice gag about Mr Cheaty Sr
I think the England side in 1958-59 was had one of their best attacks in the history of English cricket.

Trueman, Statham, Loader, Tyson, followed by spinners Laker and Lock.

The fact that they ended up dropping two of this talented lot shows what an embarasment of riches the English selectors must have gladly "suffered from.

And they had someone called Godfrey Evans as an integeral part of this demolition squad.

Though the batting was not the greatest ever, in May and Cowdrey and the young Graveney they did have a more than decent line up to cope with the few runs theis bowlers allowed the oposition to score :D

As an English county captain said around that time the secret of his teams success was a weak batting lineup and always losing the toss :)
 
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