The Ashes has been a powerhouse for magnificent bowling, marathon spells and mind-boggling batting. The iconic series has scripted numerous records over the years and many cricketers have made a name for themselves in the oldest Test rivalry.
Shane Warne has been the highest wicket-taker in the history of Ashes while Don Bradman tops the batting chart, but in terms of having the best bowling average George Lohmann is at the top. Picking a wicket is a reward that a bowler gets for putting in the hard yards, but behind this lies hours of hard work. In the list below, we will look at top three bowlers with the best average in the rich history of the Ashes.
George Lohmann (England)
Lohmann had an outstanding record against arch-rivals Australia. As per the statistics, Lohmann is the best bowler to have embraced the game of cricket, not just bowling average, but the English cricketer has the best ever strike-rate too. Among bowlers with more than 15 wickets, Lohmann has the best average and strike-rate with 112 scalps from 18 games.
Lohmann was one of the deadliest bowlers of his era and his numbers corroborate the belief. Against Australia, Lohmann averaged 13.01 in 15 games with 77 wickets to his name. Lohmann bowled at a good pace and was widely reckoned to seam the ball both ways. Lohmann scaled newer heights in Test cricket quickly. He reached the 50 Test wickets mark in his 10th game, while the 100th Test scalps came much sooner, in his 16th Test.
Lohmann recorded his best figures in an innings in Ashes at Sydney in 1887. He ran through the English batting line-up in the first innings, picking eight wickets for 35. England won the encounter by 71 runs and Lohmann’s spell was undoubtedly one of the best bowling spells ever witnessed. Saying that Lohmann was accurate when it came to line and length would be an understatement. He took 10 wickets in a match on five occasions in the Ashes.
Ashes record: Matches: 15, Wickets: 77, Average: 13.01, Best Bowling Average: 13.01, Best bowling in an innings (BBI): 8/35.
Willie Bates (England)
With an average of 13.25, Willie Bates sits at the second position in this list. Gates played 10 Tests in the Ashes and was outstanding with his off-spin, picking 31 wickets.
Bates was unfortunate to have played just 15 Tests, as he suffered a mistimed injury while bowling in the nets. In 1887, Bates was hit on his face, which destructed his eyesight and ended his professional cricket career. Bates ended Test cricket with 50 wickets in his basket from 15 games at a staggering average of 16.42.
Bates was the first English cricketer to have picked a hat-trick in Test cricket, which came against Australia at Melbourne in 1882-83. This was also the game, where Bates recorded his career-best figures in an innings as well as in a match. In the first innings, Bates wreaked havoc with seven wickets to his name for 28. He returned in the second innings to haunt Australia with figures of 7 for 74 as England demolished Australia by an innings and 27 runs.
Ashes record: Matches: 10, Wickets: 31, Average: 13.25, BBI: 7/28.
John James Ferris (Australia and England)
Ferris was a fine left-arm swing bowler, who along with Charlie Turner formed one of the most lethal new-ball pairs. Interestingly, Ferris played for both England and Australia. Turner played eight out of nine games for Australia and a solitary Test for England against South Africa.
In eight matches for Australia in the Ashes, Ferris accounted for 48 wickets at a startling average of 14.25. Ferris announced himself in Test cricket on a high. In his Test debut against England back in January 1887, Ferris and Turner bowled England out for 45. Ferris picked 4 for 27. He bowled a marathon spell, which was commendable for a debutant.
Ferris’ finest Test performance came at London in 1988, chipping five for 26 while defending a modest target of 124. Once again, this was the partnership between Turner and Ferris that helped England win the game. Ferris did a fine job in his solitary game for England against South Africa, picking 13 wickets.
Ashes record: Matches: 8, Wickets: 48, Average: 14.25, BBI: 5/26.