The Ashes series has produced some of the sport’s most remarkable performances, 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 the entire time — these ten guys have.
10. Rodney Hogg – 1978-79
England easily won the 1978-79 Ashes series 5-1, but Rodney Hogg fought valiantly in the face of defeat. Hogg took 41 wickets at an average of 12.85 in that series and, astonishingly, had his team’s best bowling stats 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’s easy to forget that Alastair Cook’s place in the England team was far from certain prior to this series. He hadn’t been in terrific shape, and some were asking for his replacement – how silly they appeared in retrospect. Cook became became the third man in Ashes history to average more than 100 runs per innings, averaging 127.66 in seven innings that yielded 766 runs. His 235 helped that average a lot, and it went a long way toward saving the first test from defeat and securing a draw. During the second test, the Essex opener broke England’s record for most minutes at the crease and runs scored without being dismissed, which stood at 371 runs in 1,022 minutes.
8. Mark Taylor – 1989
In 1989, the youthful Taylor hit the third most runs in an Ashes series, yet he didn’t even earn Player of the Series as Australia thrashed the English 4-0 in England. Terry Alderman won the personal award, and we’ll hear more about him later, but Taylor was a batting revelation, scoring 839 runs at an average of 83.9. It wasn’t particularly showy, which is why it isn’t as well-known – he only managed two hundreds in the series – but the accumulation of runs was exquisite. Finishing the series with 219 at Trent Bridge was a perfect way for ‘Tubby’ to cap off a spectacular summer.
7. Mitchell Johnson – 2013-14
Fast bowlers in Australia are intended to be terrifyingly quick, bowling deadly bouncers and fiercely sledging their opponents, wearing them down physically and mentally. This is not always the case, but Mitchell Johnson suited the bill in 2013/14. Johnson grabbed 37 wickets in the series at an absurdly low average of 13.97.
The highlight was his 7/40 at the Adelaide Oval, when he bowled England out for 172, but his nine wickets in the first test, when the English were annihilated, truly set the tone for the series. That series, there was little the visitors could do against Johnson, who was primarily to blame for the beating they endured.
6. Terry Alderman – 1981
As previously said, Terry Alderman had a terrific time in the 1989 Ashes series, but he had an even better time in the summer of 1981. Alderman may have been on the losing side that summer, but his 42 wickets are the second most in any Ashes series, as he faced Ian Botham’s assault.
5. Andrew Flintoff – 2005
Freddie Flintoff was an inspirational figure during the series deemed “the greatest of all time” by English cricket fans, but it’s easy to overlook how good he was in the 2005 Ashes. Despite being an all-rounder who batted down the order, Flintoff finished the series as the third top run scorer, with 402 runs at an average of 40.2, three 50s, and one century.
4. Ian Botham – 1981
Ian Botham had to be on this list because the 1981 series was termed “Botham’s Ashes” due to his incredible performances in the test matches in England. England won three of the six test matches in that series, and Botham was named Man of the Match in all three.
His stunning 149 not out at Headingley is well remembered, but his 5/11 in 14 overs at Edgbaston and 118 off 102 balls in Manchester were also excellent. It was a legendary series of performances with both bat and ball from the English cricket legend throughout an unforgettable summer.
3. Wally Hammond – 1928-29
The most runs scored by an Englishman in an Ashes series came off the bat of Wally Hammond, who became the first player to score over 900 runs in an Ashes series in 1928/29. Hammond finished with 905 from nine innings at an average of 113.12, including two double-hundreds, as the English cruised to a 4-1 victory away from home.
It was a large margin of victory in the end, but a couple of matches were extremely close, and it was up to Hammond to ensure England’s victory. His double-century in the third test helped his team to a three-wicket triumph, while centuries in both innings inspired England to a 12-run victory in the fourth.
2. Jim Laker – 1956
Jim Laker bowled for England on home soil in 1956 and grabbed a staggering 46 wickets in five matches, by far the greatest bowling numbers in any Ashes series. England won the series 2-1, with Laker putting in one of the best performances in the sport’s history in the fourth test at Old Trafford.
The Surrey spinner grabbed nine wickets in the first innings, reducing Australia to 84 runs, and then went one better in the second, taking all ten to bowl England to an innings victory in Manchester. 19 wickets in one match was hard to believe, but the Yorkshireman ended up with 46 for the series, proving he wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
- Don Bradman – 1930
The great Australian scored more runs in the 1930 Ashes series than anyone else in any prior Ashes series, which is extraordinary in and of itself, but he did so in only seven innings. In seven innings, 974 runs were scored. On foreign ground. The Don averaged 139.14 across the series in England, including two double-hundreds and a high score of 334 at Headingley, the tour’s peak, which the Aussies won 2-1.
He had two double-tons in Australia’s two victories, demonstrating his entire reliance on that team. Bradman ranks first, fourth, and sixth in the list of top Ashes series scores, with 810 in 1936/37 and 758 in 1934. Those efforts could have earned a spot on our list, but they should be left to other players. Bradman, on the other hand, is without a doubt the greatest Ashes player of all time.
WE ALSO INCLUDED THE BEN STOKES CLASSIC IN THE 2019 ASHES
|Most runs||Ben Stokes||441|
|Highest innings||Ben Stokes||135*|
|Highest batting average||Ben Stokes||55.12|
|Most centuries||Ben Stokes||2|