Ashes Legends

Ashes Legends

Below are a number of players that we would describe as Ashes legends, they are some of the greatest names ever to grace an Ashes series....

Sir Donald Bradman

Donald BradmanSir Donald Bradman is a man apart in the world of cricket and he would probably be the first name on any fan's 'legends' team sheet. He was simply the most prodigious run-scorer ever and although his average against England was not as high as his legendary average of 99.94, it is still superior to all other batsmen.

His career spanned 20 years in which time he scored 117 centuries at a rate that was better than one in three innings. Unbelievably he was dropped from the Australian side after making his Ashes debut in 1928/9, but once recalled he never took a backward step and broke all known batting records. As captain he never lost a series against England, and he was the leading light in the Ashes tour of the "Invincibles" who finished that tour unbeaten. It was a fitting farewell for the legend of legends and Bradman is one of those players whose name will never be lost to the game.

Harold Larwood

Harold LarwoodLarwood's name is forever linked with the "Bodyline" tour to Australia. This association unfortunately does Larwood no favours when it comes to his bowling ability. On that tour he was bowling to orders and he did it with incredible effect, but he was a much better than that. He was bowler of searing pace and was a threat to any batsman in any conditions, while he had a heart as big as a lion. In the bodyline series, Larwood took a mightily impressive 33 wickets, but he also injured two of the Australian batsmen in the process and created a storm of protest from the Australian public. His bowling even had the Prime Ministers of the two countries at odds with each other.

Unfortunately for the fast bowler, the bodyline series was to end his international career, on his return to England, he was told to sign a letter of apology but he refused, stating that he would not be the scapegoat and he never played for England again.

Jim Laker

Jim LakarJim Laker was one of the greaest off-spinners in Ashes history. He first played for England on the West Indies tour of 1948, where he took nine wickets on his debut. That early success did not grant automatic selection however and it took him quite some time to claim a regular test pace, particular after touring Australia where they took him apart.

He gained his revenge in no uncertain terms eight years later, when he took 46 Australian wickets at an average of less than ten runs per wicket. That haul is still an Ashes record and included the legendary figures of 19 wickets for 90 runs during the Old Trafford test. He took all ten of the Australian wickets in the ir second innings and was carried off the pitch by his team mates.

Dennis Lillee

Dennis LilleeLillee was the outstanding fast bowler of his generation who at the time set a new world record with a total of 355 Test wickets. With his big bushy moustache, Lillee was a menacing, intimidating quick bowler, who’s aggression would have made Harold Larwood appear wimpish. His delivery of the ball is what the fast bowling connoisseur’s loved most of all about him, it was classical in every way.

He made his full Test debut against England in1970 and took five wickets. In fact his first seven test matches were all Ashes matches and in them he took 31 wickets for less that 18 runs per wicket. He finished the 1972 Ashes tour with 10 wickets at the Oval, a feat he improved on by one more wicket on three occasions against England. He clearly saved his best for the Ashes.

He was part of the great double act of Australian quick bowlers in the mid-70s when he along with Jeff Thompson were the scourge of the English team. On the 1981 tour, despite being on the losing side he finished the series with 39 wickets.

Ian Botham

Ian BothamArguably the greatest all rounder ever, if not in the world, but certainly in the Ashes. He was also one of the great match winners. Nothing got Ian Botham more excited than an Ashes series, starting with his very first one in 1977. He made an immediate impact taking a catch at slip which dismissed Aussie skipper, Greg Chappell. He was then to take five wickets and proved a constant threat in this very first test. Over the years he seemed to specialise in dismissing Aussie captains; he had both Kim Hughes and Allan Border, dismissed over a dozen times each. On top of that of course was his incredible batting.

There was no better example of this than the 1981 series, often referred to as 'Botham's Ashes'. He scored two magnificent match winning centuries, having earlier in the series resigned as England captain. On top of his ability with bat and ball, he has claims to be regarded as one the greatest slip fielders ever, taking 120 catches, 57 of them against Australia in the Ashes.

Shane Warne

Shane WarneWarne became the most well known cricketer in the world, he was a bowler who captured the imagination of the cricketing world as he turned leg spinning into art form. Warne came into test cricket at a time when fast bowling was all the rage, while spinning was dying a death, but Warne changed all that with sensational bowling that the top batsmen were unable to master.

Warne was one of the main reasons why Australia were on top of the world for so long, with him in the side they were guaranteed wickets and without anyone like him in the opposition, particularly in Ashes cricket, they found life easy. His Ashes impact was startling, particularly for Mike Gatting, the England batsman. It was in the Old Trafford test of 1993 and Warne’s first ball to him drifted outside leg before darting back to hit Gatting’s off stump. Gatting and all who witnessed the delivery were dumbfounded, the delivery was later described as the ball of the century and with it came the arrival of Shane Warne in the Test match arena. He was to take 34 wickets in that series and until his retirement he was still the man England feared most. He became the first man to take 600 Test match wickets.