Top 10 Individual Ashes Performances
Ashes cricket has produced some of the most memorable performances in the sport’s history, from both England and Australia players. Many have excelled over an innings or even a match, but few have taken a series by the scruff of the neck and shone throughout – these 10 men have though.
10. Rodney Hogg – 1978-79
England comprehensively won the 1978-79 Ashes series 5-1, but Rodney Hogg put up a serious fight in the face of defeat. Hogg took 41 wickets that series at an average of 12.85 and, incredibly, had his team’s best bowling figures in the first six innings of the series – and top scored with the bat in the first innings of the first test. The Melbourne man took five five-wicket hauls and two 10 wickets for a match in what was an unforgettable summer of bowling.
9. Alastair Cook – 2010-11
It is easy to forget that Alastair Cook’s place in the England side was not entirely guaranteed before this series. He had not been in great form and some were calling for him to be replaced – how foolish they looked after the fact. Cook became only the third man to average over 100 during an Ashes series, averaging 127.66 over his seven innings which racked up 766 runs. His 235 helped that average very nicely, and that went a huge way to saving the first test from near certain defeat to grab a draw. The Essex opener broke the England record for most minutes at the crease and runs scored without being dismissed during the second test, which stood at 371 runs in 1,022 minutes. Cook also became the second youngest player to reach 5,000 test runs during the series, only behind Sachin Tendulkar. Not bad. Not bad at all.
8. Mark Taylor – 1989
The young Taylor scored the third most runs in an Ashes series in 1989, and didn’t even win Player of the Series, as the Aussies battered the English 4-0 in England. Terry Alderman won the personal honour, and we will hear more of him later, but Taylor was a revelation with the bat, scoring 839 runs at an average of 83.9. It wasn’t especially flashy, which is why it is not so revered – he managed only two hundreds in the series – but the accumulation of runs was sublime. Finishing the series with 219 at Trent Bridge was a fitting way to finish a stunning summer for ‘Tubby’.
7. Mitchell Johnson – 2013-14
Australian fast bowlers are all supposed to be terrifyingly quick, all bowling dangerous bouncers and angrily sledging their opponents, wearing them down physically and mentally. This is not actually always the case, but in 2013/14 Mitchell Johnson fitted the bill. Johnson took 37 wickets in the series at an obscene average of just 13.97. The highlight was the 7/40 at the Adelaide Oval which skittled England for just 172, however, his nine wickets in the first test as the English were demolished really set the tone for the series. There was little the tourists could do against Johnson that series who was largely to thank for the battering they took.
6. Terry Alderman – 1981
As mentioned, Terry Alderman had a pretty great time of it in the 1989 Ashes series, but he had an even more enjoyable spell in the summer of 1981. Alderman may have been on the losing side that summer, but his 42 wickets are the second most taken in any Ashes series as he battled to stave off the force that was Ian Botham. Not once did Alderman win Player of the Match in 1981, which is incredible seen as how many wickets he picked up, but his immense consistency through the series means he deserves a place on this list.
5. Andrew Flintoff – 2005
Freddie Flintoff was an inspirational figure during the series dubbed the greatest of all time by English cricket fans, but it is easy to forget quite how good he was in the 2005 Ashes. Despite being an all-rounder, batting down the order, Flintoff finished as the third highest run scorer in the series, with 402 runs at an average of 40.2, scoring three 50s and one century. The Lancashire lad also ended England’s highest wicket taker with 24 at an average of 27 – only behind Shane Warne in the whole series. An incredible achievement during an incredible summer in which he won Player of the Series and England won 2-1.
4. Ian Botham – 1981
There is no way that Ian Botham wouldn’t make this list given the 1981 series has been dubbed Botham’s Ashes thanks to his unbelievable performances across the test matches in England. England won three test matches in that six-match series and Botham was Man of the Match in all three of them. His outstanding 149 not out at Headingley is the performance that is often best remembered, but his 5/11 in 14 overs at Edgbaston and is 118 off 102 balls in Manchester were also outrageously good. It was an iconic row of displays over an unforgettable summer with both bat and ball from the legend of English cricket.
3. Wally Hammond – 1928-29
The most runs scored by an Englishman in an Ashes series came from the bat of Wally Hammond, Down Under in 1928/29 when he became the first player to score over 900 runs in an Ashes series. Hammond ended with 905 from nine innings at an average of 113.12 which included two double-hundreds and saw the English romp to a 4-1 win away from home. It was a big margin of victory in the end but a couple of matches were extremely tight and it was down to Hammond that England secured victory. His double-century in the third test helped his side to a three wicket win, whilst centuries in both innings were the inspiration behind England’s 12 run win in the fourth.
2. Jim Laker – 1956
By far the best bowling figures in any Ashes series are held by Jim Laker bowling for England on home soil in 1956 when he took a ridiculous 46 wickets over the five matches. England won the series 2-1 with the second victory coming in the fourth test at Old Trafford and Laker putting in one of the best performances in the history of the sport. The Surrey spinner took nine wickets in the first innings as the Aussies were skittled for just 84 and then he went one better in the second when he cleaned up all 10 to bowl England to an innings victory in Manchester. 19 wickets in one match was scarcely believable, but ending up with 46 for the series shows it was not just a flash in the pan for the Yorkshireman.
1. Don Bradman – 1930
The legendary Australian scored more runs in 1930 than anyone else in any other Ashes series, which is incredible in any circumstances, but this was in only seven innings. 974 runs in seven innings. On foreign soil. The Don averaged 139.14 over the series in England which included two double-hundreds and a top score of 334 at Headingley which was the pinnacle of the tour which the Aussies won 2-1. He scored double-tons in the two Australian victories, showing his complete necessity to that team. Bradman is first, fourth and sixth on the list of highest scores in an Ashes series, scoring 810 in 1936/37 and 758 in 1934. Those efforts could still have made a spot on this list, but we should leave them for other players. However, there is no doubt that Bradman is the greatest Ashes player of all time.