The oldest rivalry in cricket is underway again in England. The rivalry dates back to over 130 years and has seen some riveting contests between players from either sides. The expectations has reached sky high with the peppy pre-series predictions from the former players. Let us now peep into some numbers and facts from the earliest rivalry in cricket.
320 – Number of Ashes test matches. Australia winning 128 matches and England 103 while 89 ended as stalemates.
16 – Number of non-Ashes test matches. Nine of them were pre-Ashes encounters. Australia won 10 of the 16 games while England came on top just in two.
68 – Number of Ashes series competed so far. Both countries have hosted 34 series each with England winning 31 and Australia marginally ahead with 32. Five series ended in draws with the last such series coming way back in 1972.
771 – Number of players played in the Ashes till date. 420 players represented England and 351 represented Australia.
521 – Number of centuries scored in Ashes contests. 36 of them went on to score double hundreds and five reached the relatively obscure land of 300. Don Bradman scored the most for Australia (19) and Jack Hobbs did the same for England (12).
513 – Number of 5-fers in Ashes tournaments. Sid Barnes took the most for England (12) while for Australia the most is 11 each by Charlie Turner, Clarie Grimmett, Terry Alderman and Shane Warne.
3 – Number of white washes in Ashes series. England have been at the receiving end all three times. The Australian captains in the respective series were – Warwick Armstrong (1920/21), Ricky Ponting (2006/07) and Michael Clarke (2013/14).
3 – Teams which followed-on ended up winning the test match. England did that twice in Ashes – at SCG in 1894 and at Headingly in 1981.
30 – Number of players used by England in the home Ashes series in 1921– the most by a single team in any series.
27 – Wickets fallen on the second day of the first test of the 1888 Ashes series, the most in a day’s play. The match ended on the second day with Australia winning by 61 runs.
37 – No. of byes conceded by Frank Woolley in the second innings of the fifth Ashes tests 1934, the most in an innings. He was standing in place of Les Ames who didn’t take the field due to a strained back.
974 – The most number of runs scored in a series by a batsman. Don Bradman in his first tour to England in 1930 scored 974 runs in 7 innings with a century, two doubles and a triple.
309 – Most runs scored in a day in test cricket by any batsman. Bradman did it in the above series at Leeds on Day 1 of the test match enroute to his 334.
28 – Most runs off an over in test cricket. Brian Lara scored that many off Robin Peterson at Johannesburg in 2003 and George Bailey did that to James Anderson at Perth in the third Ashes test of 2013/14 series.
287 – Most runs by a debutant. Regie “Tip” Foster scored 287 at SCG in 1903. It is also the most runs in an innings by a visiting batsman in Australia.
19 – Most centuries by a players against a particular opposition. The great Don played 37 of his 52 tests against the Poms and reached three figures in 19 of them.
35 – Number of tests played by England’s Archie MacLaren. All of his 35 tests came against Australia– the most tests by a player who played only in one series. All of them were Ashes test matches. Australia’s wicket keeper in the first ever test, Jack Blackham, also played 35 tests, all against England but only 25 of them were Ashes tests.
8 – Number of hat tricks in Ashes. Hugh Trumble being the only one taking two. Peter Siddle’s hat trick came on his 26th birthday.
19 – The number of times Glenn McGrath dismissed Michael Atherton, the most a bowler dismissed any batsman. Of the 19, 17 dismissals came caught behind the wicket keeper or slips.
19 – Number of wickets taken by Jim Laker in the Old Trafford test of 1956, the most by a bowler in a test match. He also became the first player to dismiss all 11 players of the opposition.
# England defeated Australia by an innings & 579 runs in the fifth test of 1938 Ashes series at the Oval – the biggest victory margin in a test match. Len Hutton made a world record score of 364 in that match which also was the first test for the great Sid Barnes.
# The third test match of the 1970 Ashes series got abandoned because of rain. The last of the test was replaced by a limited overs match which was recognized as the first ever ODI. As in the first ever test match, Australia beat England in the first ever ODI also, this time by 5 wickets.
# In the second test of the first Ashes series hosted by England in 1884 at Lord’s, Billy Murdoch claimed the first catch by a substitute fielder in cricket. Interestingly he was fielding as a substitute for the opposition. Later on in his career, he went on to play for England in a solitary test match against SA in 1892.
# In the third and final test of the same series Murdoch went on to score the first ever double century in test cricket and for the first time in Test cricket all eleven players bowled during Australia’s innings. Australia batted for 311 overs (4 balls per over) in that innings as declarations were not permitted until 1893.
# Australia’s Jack Blackham played each of the first 17 test matches. His record run was broken in the second test of the 1885 Ashes series at MCG. This was the first time when the series was comprised of 5 tests matches.
# George McShane of Australia had the unique record of making his test debut after making his umpiring debut. In the fourth test of the above series at SCG, he officiated his only match as umpire and he made his debut in the next test at MCG scoring 9 & 12*.
# In the second test of the 1887 Ashes series at SCG, William Gunn of England had achieved the rarest of the rare feats when he both played and deputized as umpire in the same match. He deputized the match on the final day morning when the regular umpire John Swift was absent. Gunn later founded Gunn & Moore [GM], a sports equipment and apparel company, along with local businessman Thomas James Moore.
# Coningham took Mclaren’s wicket with his first ball in his only test at MCG in the 1895 Ashes series to claim the first instances of a wicket falling to the first ball of a test match.
# Ernie Jones was the first bowler to be no-balled for throwing in a Test match – umpire Jim Phillips called him during the MCG test of the 1897/98 series.
# At SCG in the first test of 1987/98 series, Joe Darling became the first left hander to score a century.
# In the third test at Adelaide of the 1897/98 series, Joe Darling became the first player to reach his century with a six. It was the first six hit in test cricket without the aid of overthrows. Hitting a six in those days involved hitting the ball out of the ground as opposed to over the ropes. The ball from Johnny Briggs cleared the short square leg boundary and landed in a park.
# With the above century, he became the first player to score more than one hundred in a test series. He scored one more in the final test at SCG.
# The 1899 Ashes series in England was the first 5 test series played in England. WG Grace played his last in the first test at Nottingham at the age of 50 years & 320 days. The only one older to play test cricket at an older age was Wilfred Rhodes who made his debut in the above test.
# Joe Darling became the first man to hit a six in a Test on English soil as well when he cleared the ground twice more in the epic Old Trafford test in 1902 which the visitors won by 3 runs.
*** All stats updated prior till the start of first Ashes test at Cardiff.
Pic Courtesy: www.lords.org