As the current Ashes series is delicately poised, we go down memory lane to briefly revive few great Ashes performances by some top quality cricketers from England and Australia who may not have been as successful as consistently as some other ashes legends talked about separately in our earlier blogs but neverthless produced some match or series defining performances of their own
Jim Laker : 46 wickets in 1956 Ashes in England
Jim Laker was a high quality right arm off spinner for England in 1950s. He took 193 test wickets of which a staggering number of 46 came from a single Ashes series in 1956. It was a tight Ashes series and Australia by virtue of winning at Lords led 1-0 with 3 tests to go. In the 3rd test at Leeds ,Laker was in his elements taking 11 wickets in the match ( 5/56 & 6/55) to rock the Aussies and tie the series at 1-1 with 2 tests to play. However his moment of history came at Old Trafford where he spun a web around the Aussie batters to take 9/37 in first innings to skittle out Australia for 84 !! The Australian batsmen showed their reluctance to go to front foot and played from the crease to add to their woes. Their best batsman left hander Neil Harvey was bowled by a beautifully bowled off spinner which spun and left him. History was created in 2nd innings when Laker repeated his first innings heroics and took all ten wickets for 53 runs as Australia were allout 205 and lost the match by an innings to trail 2-1 in the series . Thus Laker took a world record of 19 wickets in a test match, highest ever by a bowler and the same stands unequalled till date. In the drawn final test at Oval ,he continued his domination with 7 wickets to enable England to win the series 2-1 and keep the Ashes.
Mark Taylor : 839 runs at 83.9 avg Ashes 1989
Mark Taylor made his test debut immediate before the Ashes 1989, hence he was the inexperienced cricketer as he embarked on his first tour to England. However he started his Ashes campaign in brilliant fashion scoring 136 as his 1st test ton in good bowling conditions. He played with patience, skill and confidence ,driving, cutting, flicking and pulling with disdain whenever England bowled loose deliveries.That innings launched him for the rest of the series as he scored in prolific fashion in all the tests and scored his first double hundred (219) at Trent Bridge as he and Geoff Marsh (136) set up a huge 1st wicket record breaking stand of 329 runs for first wicket. Taylor showed great patience in building all his innings in England ,adapted very well to the challenging conditions and played high quality strokes to end at 839 runs for the series at 83 average. Australia banking on Taylor and Steve Waugh’s performances in batting and Alderman ‘s bowling skills ,won the 1989 Ashes convincingly by 4-0 and thus winning their 1st Ashes in England after 14 years (since 1975).
Graham Gooch : 673 runs at 56 avg in Ashes 1993
Graham Gooch was 40 by the time he played his finest Ashes series in 1993. Facing a quality bowling attack right through the series ,he showed great skills, courage and determination to to showcase some magnificent performances . However it had to end in a losing cause as Australia, being a far superior team romped away to a 4-1 series win . However they had to deal with a resilient Gooch for the whole series. He scored 65 and a high quality 133 in first test at Manchester in a losing cause. However his 120 at Trent bridge in 2nd innings saved England from embarrassment as Australia leading by 51 on 1st innings had England on the ropes at 159/5 in 2nd before Gooch’s 100 changed the game and had Australia under some pressure in the 4th innings in a drawn test. Finally at Oval his 56 and 79 was instrumental in helping England to a consolation last test win to reduce the defeat margin from 0-4 to 1-4. Gooch ended with 673 runs at 56 average and 2 hundreds in a personally highly successful series.