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Top 10 Ashes Moments on English Soil

7 July 2015

top 10 cricket moments

The Australian cricket team return to England this Summer looking for a first Ashes win on English soil since 2001. It's one of sport's longest standing rivalries and has produced some dramatic moments since the first game was played way back in 1877. We've chosen our 10 favourite Ashes moments (in chronological order) ahead of this Summer's contest, but as ever we're keen to hear if you disagree with us at


1) 1932/3 - The Bodyline Series: The infamous Bodyline tactic (literally bowling at the batsman's body) was England captain Douglas Jardine's ruthless plan to nullify the finest batsman to ever play the game, Donald Bradman. It proved successful in so far that England won the most controversial Ashes series ever played 4-1 but the sickening injuries to several Australian players (it was 40 years before the introduction of helmets) and the political uproar the "unsportsmanlike" tactic caused in Australia - led to the controversial Bodyline bowling being made illegal the following year. Jardine himself never captained England again.


2) 1934 - Bradman hits 300 : Donald Bradman exacted swift revenge on England just 19 months later when Australia regained the Ashes in a tight series. The highlight was Bradman's masterful 303 - then a world record Test match score - against a strong England bowling attack at Headingly. Coming in at a precarious 39 for 3, Bradman scored 271 of his runs in one day. Rain saved England in that game but Australia won the crucial 5th test at The Oval by a crushing 562 runs to take the series 2-1.

3) 1956 - Laker takes 19 wickets: The 1956 Ashes series was in the balance at one-all when the 2 teams arrived at Manchester for the fourth test. England off spinner Jim Laker, who had taken 11 wickets in the previous test at Headingly, exploited the spin-friendly conditions in Manchester to perfection to take 19 of the 20 Australian wickets to fall as England won the match and with it the Ashes.

4) 1975 - Man of Steele defies the speed demons: Silver haired, spectacle wearing journeyman David Steele proved one of England's most unlikely sporting heroes in the summer of 1975 when he was drafted into an England team that had been psychologically destroyed by Aussie pace duo Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in the first Test. Steele defied what was possibly cricket's fastest ever pace bowling attack for the rest of the series, with all the remaining games drawn. Australia retained the Ashes, but Steele was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

5) 1977 - Boycott's century of centuries: In 1977 an Australian team divided over the ongoing Kerry Packer World Series Cricket crisis, appeared ripe for the taking. In the end, England won the series decisively, with Geoff Boycott announcing his return to the side with his 100th career hundred at his home ground at Headingley, Leeds as England sealed the Ashes by a comfortable 3-0 margin. Boycott, who punched an ondrive to the boundary in the late evening sunshine to reach 3 figures, was the first man to complete his century of centuries in a Test.

6) 1981 - Botham's Ashes: The unpredictability of sport was never better summed up than in the summer of England all-rounder Ian Terrance Botham in 1981, as he went from national pariah to national hero over 5 glorious days in Leeds. Having led England to defeat in the opening match and then bagging a pair at Lords, Botham resigned the captaincy. Mike Brearely took over and - surprisingly at the time - Botham retained his place in the team for the Third Test at Headingley. Following on and at 135-7 in their second innings, Ladbrooke's famously quoted odds of 500-1 for an England victory. But freed from the shackles of captaincy, an inspired Botham played with his old bravado, leading a thrilling counter-attack and scoring an undefeated 149. Chasing a modest 130 to win, the Aussies collapsed for just 111. Botham continued to break Aussie hearts with both bat and ball over the remainder of the series, inspiring England to a 3-1 series win.

7) 1993 - the ball of the century: Never has a player announced himself to the Ashes in such dramatic fashion as Shane Warne did in the First Test at Old Trafford in 1993. Former England captain, Mike Gatting - an acknowledged master of spin bowling - faced the first ball Warne bowled in the series and watched in astonishment as Warne's vicious leg-break pitched outside Gatting's leg stump, gripped the pitch and turned sharply to clip off stump. England never recovered, a cricketing superstar was born and Australia thumped England 4-1.

8) 2005 - Freddie inspires England in "the greatest series": After 16 years of Aussie domination, Michael Vaughn's England team were determined to regain the Ashes against a still formidable Australia team. It turned into an epic series between 2 of the strongest teams to ever feature in an Ashes contest. Each match was a drama as England gradually wrestled control. The highlight was the second test at Edgbaston, when Australia, chasing 282 to win, were on the verge of victory when last man Michael Kasprowicz was caught behind to hand England the narrowest ever Ashes victory, by just 2 runs. In the heat of victory and with the rest of the England team wildly celebrating, England talisman Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff consoled the Australian batsman in a moment of pure sportsmanship. England edged the series 2-1.

9) 2006/7 - Revenge: Few agreed with him when Glen McGrath predicted a 5-0 whitewash as Australia plotted revenge for the 2005 series defeat when England toured "down under" just 18 months later. Aussie legends McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer had announced they planned to retire after the series and were determined to sign off in style. The die was cast with the very first delivery of the series, as an out of form and nervous Steve Harmison wildly sprayed his first ball straight to second slip, and McGrath's 5-0 prediction proved deadly accurate.

10) 2009 - the miracle of Cardiff: Although lacking the quality of the 2005 series, the 2009 Ashes contained its fair share of dramatic moments as England - against the odds and all the stats in the series - somehow fashioned a 2-1 series win to regain the famous urn. We could have picked Flintoff's last hurrah at Lords, or Stuart Broad ripping through the Australia top order in the decisive final test at the Oval, but we've plumped for James Anderson and Monty Panesar's heroic last wicket defiance at Cardiff (the only Ashes match to be played outside Australia or "England") to deny Australia victory in the opening game of the series.