Australia vs England: From Bradman’s duck to Stokes’ heist — The 10 blockbuster Ashes moments

The Ashes, one of cricket’s greatest series, is back once again and this gives us the perfect chance to relive some of the blockbuster moments by looking at some of the finest performances on the field. From Sir Donald Bradman’s infamous duck to Jim Laker’s 19 wickets, to the Stokes’ heist in 2019, we take a look back at the most memorable Ashes moments of all time.

Bradman’s Last Duck, 1948

What occurred in the last century is still the most talked-about ducks in cricket history. The legendary Don Bradman, playing his 52nd, and final, Test was dismissed for a second-ball duck by leg-spinner Eric Hollies. That dismissal, in the final Ashes match of 1948, left his career runs at 6996, at an average of 99.94 — Bradman had needed just four runs for a perfect average. It was his seventh Test duck, but eventually, it did little to tarnish his legacy.

Jim Laker’s 19 wickets in one match, 1956

Jim Laker produced an iconic spell at the Old Trafford pitch which helped England take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the Ashes series. His feat of 10 wickets in an innings has been repeated only twice– by Anil Kumble in 1999 and Ajaz Patel in 2021. However, Laker’s match tally of 19 dismissals is still on top and will probably never be broken.

Botham’s Ashes in 1981

The 1981 Ashes is best remembered for the stellar performance by Ian Botham, who was fittingly adjudged as the player of the series for his match-winning performances. in the three games, England won, it was his unbeaten 149 at Headingley which helped the Three Lions script an incredible comeback after losing the first game. Incredibly, Botham had given up captaincy after the disastrous result in the opening match of the series but this, in turn, helped him produce a memorable all-round performance.

Shane Warne hat-trick at the MCG, 1994

A year after producing his masterpiece with his very first Ashes ball in 1993, which is dubbed as the ball of the century, the leg-spinner picked up a hat-trick at the MCG in 1994 — the first Ashes hat-trick in 90 years. (since Hugh Trumble’s feat in Melbourne in 1904). After going wicketless in the innings, Warne struck with the fourth ball of his 13th over, snaring Phil DeFreitas lbw. Darren Gough was his next victim as Ian Healy completed a neat caught-behind, bringing Devon Malcolm trudging to the crease.

“The final wicket was typical Shane Warne,” said captain Mark Taylor.”As Devon came out to bat and Warney was on a hat-trick, he talked to the team about bowling a flipper or big leg spinner. “After leaving the team huddle he obviously changed his mind and went for the top-spinner.

“He landed it perfectly, caught the gloves of Malcolm and it deflected to the leg side where David Boon took a superb one-handed diving catch.”

Steve Waugh slams a ton on one leg, 2001

Grit, a steely determination was the characteristic of Waugh’s unbeaten 157 which is often forgotten since it was made in a dead rubber at the Oval. But the circumstances around it make it a moment to remember. Before the game, Waugh had injured himself with a calf muscle tear and was barely able to walk. But a medical miracle prior to game allowed him to play, a decision which he now terms as “pretty stupid” and “a little reckless”. Wobbling at the crease with strain on his muscles, Waugh dug deep and kept the runs flowing. The tensest moment occurred when he was on 99, as he went for a quick single and had to dive into the crease to cover the last couple of yards. Lying on the pitch, Waugh was unable to get up and raised his bat with a smile to acknowledge the crowd as he completed his 27th Test hundred.

Flintoff on Fire in 2005

The 2005 Ashes was one of the greatest series in cricket history and saw England beat their arch-rivals for the first time in nearly 19 years. What began with a defeat for the home team in the first Test at Lord’s by 239 runs, turned into euphoria as Andrew Flintoff starred with both bat and ball. Flintoff picked up 24 wickets in the series and was the highest wicket-taker for his country. He was equally good with the bat and scored a crucial 102 in the first innings of the fourth Test which helped England win the Test match and take the Ashes home.
As a result, Ponting was forced to suffer the indignity of losing an Ashes, which his predecessors Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor never did.

The miracle of Cardiff, 2009

England’s greatest escape occurred in the 2009 Test match at Cardiff, with the last-wicket pair of Monty Panesar and James Anderson fending off 69 deliveries to earn an unlikely draw for the hosts. This result proved to be crucial for the hosts, as they went on to win the series 2-1 to regain the urn which they had lost to the Aussies in 2006-07. Speaking on Sky Sports, Anderson fondly recalled the moment and said: “I was thinking pretty clearly, actually. As 10 and 11 you are not expected to get us home. We just tried to focus on each ball, each over and we talked to each other quite a lot. The calling wasn’t overly great but we got there at the end, which was the main thing.” “Hearing that the Australian wives and girlfriends had the champagne delivered to their box at nine down buoyed us as well [for the rest of the series],” he added.

Gilchrist 57-ball 100 steals the thunder

Adam Gilchrist’ hammered a hundred in just 57 balls at Perth in 2006 which snuffed out England’s hopes of fighting back from a 0-2 deficit in the series and helped Australia regain the urn. Incidentally, he missed the world record by a single ball. His first 50 came from 40 balls but no one would have thought of him eclipsing Sir Viv Richards’ record of 56 balls. However, the brutal onslaught that followed thereafter put the Richards record in danger. At one stage, Gilchrist was 93 from 51, and with four balls to break the record it looked a sure thing. However, with the field spread out he missed the mark by just one ball and had to settle for a hundred in 57 balls. Misbah-ul-Haq and Brendon McCullum have marginally bettered that mark since.

Mitchell Johnson spits fire at the Gabba

The 2013-14 Ashes series did not begin well for Australia as they slumped to 100/5 after electing to bat. But the entry of Mitchell Johnson turned the game on its head. His first contribution was with the willow, scoring 64 crucial runs off 134 balls in a vital 132-run stand with Brad Haddin that took Australia to a respectable total of 295. With the ball in hand, Johnson was the wrecker-in-chief with a fiery spell. His 4/61 in the first innings saw England fold for 136. In the second innings, he bowled a brutal spell with 5/42, and England were beaten by a thumping margin of 381 runs.

Lone Ranger Ben Stokes scripts a heist to remember

The Summer of Stokes is etched into our psyche. Stokes scored a stunning 135 not out as England kept its Ashes hopes alive with a one-wicket win over Australia in the third Test at Headingley in 2019. Stokes hit the winnings run as England finished on 362/9 in its second innings, chasing an improbable target of 359. An unbeaten 76-run stand for the 10th wicket with Jack Leach helped England register its highest successful fourth-innings chase in a test match.

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