If there’s a sport which lends itself to numbers and statistics, it’s cricket. And with The Ashes 2013 series beginning this morning at Trent Bridge, now is as good a time as any to look back at some of the best – and worst – performances and performers. Steven Perryman crunches the numbers
1. Highest total – England, 903 for 7 declared at The Oval in August 1938
Sir Len Hutton batted for more than 13 hours, compiling a record Ashes score of 364, also setting a second-wicket partnership record with Maurice Leyland in the process.
Australia mounted little resistance and subsided by a record margin: an innings and 579 runs.
2. Lowest total – Australia, 36 at Edgbaston in May 1902
That Australian opener Victor Trumper scored 18 runs of the total tells its own story, and it’s no surprise that the rest of the scorecard was decidedly single-digit.
English bowler Wilfred Rhodes proved the biggest obstacle, his slow left-arm spin accounting for seven of the Australian batsmen in the rout.
3. Smallest victory – England win by 2 runs at Edgbaston in August 2005
In stark contrast to the biggest victory in The Ashes (see highest total above), the smallest victory came in what was arguably the greatest series of all – 2005. The margins were magnified given that Australia had taken the first test of the series and victory at Edgbaston would have meant an almost unassailable 2-0 series lead.
On 220 for 9, and chasing 282 to win, a series-levelling win looked inevitable with just the Australian tail-enders Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz left in. Being England, they made it hard for themselves, allowing the tail to wag to within two runs of the total needed to save the test.
Kasprowicz eventually succumbed to a contested Steve Harmison delivery, prompting wild English euphoria. It was a moment most iconically documented by Andrew Flintoff’s consolatory handshake with a desolate Brett Lee after the final wicket had fallen.
4. Most runs & centuries – Donald Bradman (AUS)
That Donald Bradman – the batsman with the highest test average of all time – should be the most successful batsman in Ashes history will come as no surprise.
He scored 5,028 runs, including 19 centuries (another record) and 12 half-centuries, with a highest score of 334, at an average of 89.78 from 63 innings (37 Tests).
England’s Sir Jack Hobbs is next on the list with 3,636, including 12 centuries, highlighting Bradman’s superiority.
5. Most wickets – Shane Warne (AUS)
An Ashes list would not be complete without an entry of some sort from leg-spinner Shane Warne, whose career was defined by the Ashes – from his ‘ball of the century against Mike Gatting in 1993, through to his last hurrah in a 5-0 drubbing of England in 2006/7.
Away from the headlines, which continue to follow him post-career, Warne became one of the most successful test bowlers of all time and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the leading wicket taker in Ashes history.
His figures of 195 wickets, including 11 five-fors and four 10 wickets in a match hauls, look as safe as houses with no current players anywhere near the top 20 of all time.
6. Best bowling figures & most wickets in a series – Jim Laker (ENG)
That Shane Warne never managed to pick up all the Ashes bowling records is a surprise, and England can thank off-spinner Jim Laker for claiming the best bowling figures in an innings and most wickets in a series record.
Both came in the 1956 series, with Laker’s coup de grace a demolition of the Australian batting line-up in the second innings at Old Trafford, returning figures of 10-53.
To make that clear: he bowled out the whole team, the first and only time that has been achieved in an Ashes test.
Steven Perryman is AAT‘s Editorial Manager
Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.