Originating in 1882, the Ashes has been a regularly fought intense series between two teams who have a strong cricketing history. Reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail, the Ashes urn is what these teams play for and over the years it has become the most traditional, watched Test series in the history of cricket.
Both teams have won 32 times each although England hold the urn at present on account of their series win in 2015 at home. Several World-class cricketers ranging from the indomitable Don Bradman to the ultimate all-rounder, Ian Botham, have graced the series.
David Warner’s comments prior to the 2017 Ashes reflects the kind of tussle these teams have had over more than a century. “The history, the pride that is at stake. As soon as you step on that line it’s war,” Warner had told ABC Radio when asked what the Ashes meant to him.
The Aussie opener might have been a little over the top with his comments, but there is a lot of “pride that is at stake” when these two compete for the ultimate prize, the urn.
As another Ashes series is set to get underway, we take a look at the top three run-scorers in this series over the years.
Sir Don Bradman (Runs: 5028)
The man who possesses the best batting average in cricket (99.94), Sir Donald Bradman became an icon in Australia following his mesmeric performances in cricket. It is said that his burning ambition to be a cricketer stemmed when his Dad took him to watch an Ashes match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He was soon practising incessantly and became a Test cricketer with just 10 First-class matches under his belt. In his third match, the Ashes series of 1928-29, Bradman slammed 79 and 112 to become the youngest batsman to score a hundred. He hit another in the fifth Test of the series.
By 1930, at 22, Bradman was already an icon and reciprocated that belief with a resounding show in the Ashes that year in England. The Australian made 974 runs at 139.14 during the series and helped reclaim the Ashes. He was also part of the bodyline series, captained the side, returned to be a part of the “The Invincibles” and retired in 1948, scoring an unfortunate duck in his final innings, one that saw his average drop below hundred.
Matches – 37, Runs – 5028, HS – 334, Avg – 89.78, 100s – 19, 50s – 12
Jack Hobbs (Runs: 3636)
An outstanding opening batsman, Jack Hobbs was often dubbed as the best batsman England have ever produced. With adept, rapid foot movement, exceptional placement and an all-round game, Hobbs scripted a legend of his own in England colours.
Alongside Wilfred Rhodes and Herbert Sutcliffe, Hobbs created quite an impact at the top of the order for England after scaling the Test ranks from Surrey. He made his debut on January 1, 1908, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and scored 83 in his first innings.
In 1911-12, he and Rhodes compiled a 323 run opening partnership, a record that stood for 22 long years. It still remains England’s best opening stand against Australia in Tests. In the series, he scored 662 runs at 82.75 setting a record at the time for most runs in a series.
In 1929, he scored a hundred at the age of 46, and remains the oldest player to have scored a Test ton.
Matches – 41, Runs – 3636, HS – 187, Avg – 54.26, 100s – 12, 50s – 15
Allan Border (Runs: 3222)
A remarkable all-rounder whole held the record for most runs in Test cricket until Brian Lara took over later, Allan Border was a lynchpin in the Australian team between 1978 and 1994. He made his debut in the Ashes of 1978-79 when several players had signed with the World Cricket Series.
Although he started off his Test career sedately, it gained momentum in 1981, when he made his first Ashes tour. He was the lone bright spot for Australia in the series, defying the England bowlers for 377 minutes to score the slowest century of the time. In the 1984-85 season, he made 597 runs in the Ashes at 66.33 scoring two massive hundreds for the visitors.
In 1989, two years after the unexpected World Cup win, Border led the Aussies to a 4-0 trouncing of the English, leading from the front like a skipper should do with 442 runs at 73.66. In 1993, he became the first player in a long time to lead Australia in three Ashes tours of England.
Matches – 42, Runs – 3222, HS – 200*, Avg – 55.55, 100s – 7, 50s – 19