Flames Among the Ashes

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First Test, Brisbane
The English cricket team which arrived to defend the Ashes in the summer of 1986-87 was damned as one of the worst ever; one commentator dimissed them with the line, Can't bat, can't bowl, can't field. This may have annoyed all-rounder Ian Botham, who five years earlier in England had wrested the 1981 series from Kim Hughes' Australians. In the opening Test, Botham attacked the fast Australian bowlers with brutal relish. Spectators were in as much danger as the fieldsmen as Botham launched four giant sixes into the crowd. By the end of his innings of 138, the die had been cast; England never lost the momentum imparted by Botham's mighty bat, winning the series 2-1.
Bat: K.R. Stackpole (Aus) 207 ('70-1)
Ball: S.K. Warne (Aus) 8/71 ('94-5)Second Test, Perth
The 1974-75 Ashes series is mainly remembered for the life-threatening speed of Australian fast bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, but here middle-order batsman Doug Walters captured the headlines. Walters, dubbed the next Don Bradman on his debut in 1965, unleashed a scorching range of drives, pulls, hooks and cuts against a stunned English attack, and needed six off the final ball of the day to compile 100 runs in a session--a rare achievement in Tests. As fast bowler Bob Willis released that ball, Walters pounced forward like an Olympic fencer and swiped it high over the square-leg boundary for six.
Bat: I.R. Redpath (Aus) 171 ('70-1)
Ball: C.J. McDermott (Aus) 8/97 ('90-1)Third Test, Adelaide
The City of Churches erupted in unholy howls for vengeance when Australian captain Bill Woodfull and wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield were cut down by Harold Larwood's Bodyline bowling of 1932-33. Bodyline was designed to force batsmen into giving up catches as they defended their bodies against deliveries rising into their ribs; in Adelaide Woodfull (hit over the heart) and Oldfield (whose skull was fractured) nearly gave up their lives.
Bat: R.B. Simpson (Aus) 225 ('65-6)
Ball: A.E. Trott (Aus) 8/43 (1894-5)Fourth Test, Melbourne
The Centenary Test of 1977 celebrated 100 years of Test cricket between England and Australia. Every celebration needs a jester; England provided Derek Randall, who blazed 174 runs in the second innings despite being struck on the head by Dennis Lillee. The unhelmeted Randall merely doffed his cap to the enraged fast bowler; avoiding another bumper, he performed a tumble-roll and jumped to his feet. His innings almost rescued England, who in the end were defeated by 45 runs--exactly the same margin as in the very first Test at the same ground 100 years earlier.
Bat: R.M. Cowper (Aus) 307 ('65-6)
Ball: A.A. Mailey (Aus) 9/121 ('20-1)Fifth Test, Sydney
Few in the crowd at the Second Test of the 1928-29 series against England could have guessed at the eventual achievements of Australia's 12th man. The youngster carrying the drinks for his teammates in that match was one Donald George Bradman; four years later, the Sydney Cricket Ground was crammed with fans come to witness the exploits of Bradman, already known as the world's best batsman. In the 50 years since The Don's retirement, no other has been able to surpass him.
Bat: R.E. Foster (Eng) 287 ('03-4)
Ball: G. Lohmann (Eng) 8/35 (1887-8)