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Opinion

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

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Roar Rookie
27th May, 2020
16

The final game in Australia’s home series will take place at Bellerive Oval, which has never hosted an Ashes match, nor for that matter a Test with India.

The hosts’ March-born team is clearly stronger in bowling, with a proven and well balanced five-man attack. The visiting team is stronger in batting, and boasts double its opponent’s Test runs, centuries and caps. The side that wins that battle will win the match.

Having already won matth’s Alphabet Ashes earlier this year, Australia will retain them after this series by a comprehensive margin of at least 4-2, but probably 5-1 and possibly even 6-0.

After a short break following these October-to-March articles, please keep your eyes out for the April-to-September ones. Australia’s remaining teams will start the return series in England as underdogs, and will do well to win three of those six Tests and hang onto the urn.

The level of impact of the relative age effect on team strengths is still unclear, but by the 12th and last match and article, we will have more evidence on which to make a judgement.

Australia March-born

Wayne B Phillips
27 Tests, 1983-1986, 1485 runs at 32.28, two centuries
Phillips was an attacking and confident left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman, and will play as a specialist batsman in this team. In 1983-84 he scored 159 on debut against Pakistan at the WACA, and 120 in Bridgetown. In England in 1985, he scored 350 runs at 35.00, including 91 at Headingley and 59 at Edgbaston.

Vernon Ransford
20 Tests, 1907-1912, 1211 runs at 37.84, one century
Ransford was a stylish left-handed batsman and brilliant outfielder. On his sole Ashes tour in 1909, he scored 353 runs at 58.83, including 143 not out at Lord’s. His career was interrupted by the 1912 dispute between players and the Australian Cricket Board, and then by World War I.

Clem Hill
49 Tests, 1896-1912, 3412 runs at 39.21, seven centuries
Hill was one of Australia’s finest left-handed batsmen and a fine outfielder, and made four Ashes tours. Against England in 1897-98, he scored 452 runs at 56.50 with a match-winning 188 at the MCG. His other Ashes highlights included 301 runs at 60.20 in 1899 with 135 not out at Lord’s, and 521 runs at 52.10 in 1901-02 with three successive 90s.

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Dean Jones
52 Tests, 1984-1992, 3631 runs at 46.55, 11 centuries
Jones was a middle-order batsman whose 210 in the tied Test in Madras in 1986-87 is one of the finest modern innings by an Australian. In 17 matches against England he averaged 50.76 and scored three centuries, including 184 not out at the SCG in 1986-87. He scored a second double-century, 216 against the West Indies in Adelaide in 1988-89. In all fifth and sixth matches of a series, he averaged 91.00 across seven Tests with four centuries.

Dean Jones bats for Durham

(Chris Cole/Allsport)

Martin Love
Five Tests, 2002-2003, 233 runs at 46.60, one century
Love was an elegant middle-order batsman, who gained Test selection by scoring two double-centuries in tour matches against England. His century was scored against Bangladesh in Cairns in 2003. He scored five centuries in Sheffield Shield finals.

George Giffen (captain)
31 Tests, 1882-1896, 1238 runs at 23.35, one century, 103 wickets at 27.09
Giffen was a right-handed batsman and off-spin bowler, and toured England five times. At the SCG in 1891-92, he took 4-88 and 6-72. In the 1894-95 series, he scored 475 runs at 52.77 and took 34 wickets at 24.11, including an SCG performance of 161 and 41, and 4-75 and 4-164.

Wally Grout (wicketkeeper)
51 Tests, 1957-1966, 163 catches, 24 stumpings
Grout was an agile and popular wicketkeeper, and Australia never lost a series during his tenure. His series highlights included 20 dismissals against England in 1958-59, 23 against the West Indies in 1960-61, and 21 against England in 1961. He toured the West Indies in 1964-65 only months after allegedly suffering a heart attack.

Ben Hilfenhaus
27 Tests, 2009-2012, 99 wickets at 28.50
Hilfenhaus was a swing bowler whose career was hampered by regular knee and back injuries. His highlights included 22 wickets at 27.45 in England in 2009, and 27 wickets at 17.22 against India in 2011-12.

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Rodney Hogg
38 Tests, 1978-1984, 123 wickets at 28.47
Hogg was a fiery fast bowler who enjoyed a stunning eight-match debut summer in 1978-79, taking 41 wickets at 12.85 against England, and then ten wickets at 25.70 against Pakistan. He reserved his best for England, with a total of 56 wickets at 17.00 in 11 matches. In his first three matches, his figures were 6-74 and 1-35 in Brisbane, 5-65 and 5-57 in Perth, and 5-30 and 5-36 in Sydney.

Bruce Reid
27 Tests, 1985-1992, 113 wickets at 24.63
Reid was a tall left-arm fast-medium bowler who generated often-unplayable lift, but suffered regular injuries. His career highlights were 6-97 and 7-51 against England at the MCG in 1990-91, and 6-66 and 6-60 against India at the MCG in 1991-92.

Jack Saunders
14 Tests, 1902-1908, 79 wickets at 22.73
Saunders was a tall left-armed medium-paced finger spinner, who was unplayable on sticky pitches. On debut, he took 4-119 and 5-43 against England at the SCG. At Johannesburg in 1902-03, he took 2-32 and 7-34. In his final series, he took 31 wickets at 23.09 against England, including 5-28 and 4-76 at the MCG. While living in New Zealand, he was instrumental in Clarrie Grimmett migrating to Australia.

Honourable mentions: Matt Renshaw, Alec Bannerman, Tom Horan, Dirk Wellham, Sam Loxton, Sammy Carter, Trent Copeland, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Johnny Gleeson.

England March-born

Sir Andrew Strauss
100 Tests, 2004-2012, 7037 runs at 40.91, 21 centuries
Strauss was a South African-born left-handed batsman, who captained England to 24 wins in 50 matches. He scored 112 on debut, against New Zealand at Lord’s. His Ashes highlights included leading England to series wins in 2009 and 2010-11, and scoring two centuries in 2005. Against Australia, he averaged 45.63 at home with three centuries, and 32.58 away with one century.

Andrew Strauss

(AP Photo/Tim Hales)

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Andrew Stoddart
16 matches, 1888-1898, 996 runs at 35.57, two centuries
Stoddart was one of England’s greatest 19th-century batsmen and especially strong on difficult pitches, on the leg-side, and when driving. He toured Australia four times, twice as captain. His two centuries were 134 in Adelaide in 1891-92, and 173 at the MCG in 1894-95. He also captained England in rugby, in which he played ten internationals. He took his own life at the age of 52.

Nasser Hussain (captain)
96 Tests, 1990-2004, 5764 runs at 37.18, 14 centuries
Hussain was an Indian-born middle-order batsman. He captained energetically, and led England to four consecutive series wins and third place in the ICC rankings. Against Australia, he scored 1581 runs at 38.56, and averaged 41.52 in two series away from home.

Phil Mead
17 Tests, 1911-1928, 1185 runs at 49.37, four centuries
Mead was a crisp stroke-player, and solid in defence. Against Australia, he played seven matches and scored 415 runs at 51.87, including 182 not out the Oval in 1921, and 73 in his final match aged 41 in Brisbane in 1928-29. World War I, which commenced when he was aged 27, interrupted his career. He is the fourth highest first-class run-scorer of all time, with 55,061 runs at 47.67 including 153 centuries.

Tom Hayward
35 Tests, 1896-1909, 1999 runs at 34.46, three centuries
Hayward was one of the golden era’s greatest batsmen, and toured Australia three times. He played 29 Ashes matches in total, and in 1899 scored 130 at Old Trafford and 137 at the Oval. In Australia in 1902-03, he scored 90s at the SCG and Adelaide Oval.

Bill Edrich
39 Tests, 1938-1955, 2440 runs at 40.00, six centuries, 41 wickets at 41.29
Edrich was a right-handed batsman who played fast bowling particularly well, and was a useful pace bowler himself. In the timeless Test in Durban in 1938-39, he scored 219 aged 22. His career was then interrupted by World War II, in which he served as a decorated bomber pilot. In Australia in 1946-47, he scored 462 runs at 46.20, including 119 at the SCG. In English first-class cricket in 1947, he scored 3539 runs at 80.43. Against the Invincibles in 1948, he scored 111 at Headingley.

Chris Woakes
33 Tests, 2013-present, 1177 runs at 26.75, one century, 95 wickets at 30.88
Woakes is a fast-medium swing bowler and useful batsman. His career highlights to date include 6-70 and 5-32 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 2016, and 137 not out against India at Lord’s in 2018. His overall Ashes record in nine matches is not strong, averaging 19.71 with the bat and 43.90 with the ball.

Chris Woakes

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Bill Lockwood
12 Tests, 1893-1902, 231 runs at 17.76, 43 wickets at 20.53
Lockwood was a fast bowler known for his cut and swing, and a useful batsman who scored 15 first-class centuries. His greatest Ashes performance was in 1902, when he took 6-48 and 5-28 at Old Trafford, only for England to lose the match by three runs. In three home series, he played seven matches and took 38 wickets at 14.31.

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Graeme Swann
60 Tests, 2008-2013, 1370 runs at 22.09, 255 wickets at 29.96
Swann was an off-spin bowler, useful lower-order batsman and fine slip fieldsman. He made his ODI debut aged 20, but had to wait almost nine more years for a Test cap. He bowled especially effectively to left-handers for 121 dismissals, and used DRS well in claiming 70 LBW victims.

Phil Edmonds
51 Tests, 1975-1987, 125 wickets at 34.18
Edmonds was a Rhodesian-born left-arm orthodox spin bowler and capable lower-order batsman, who originally played in Derek Underwood’s shadow. Against Australia he took 36 wickets at 37.16 including 5-28 at Headingley in 1975 on debut, 15 wickets in 1985, and a further 15 in 1986-87.

Leslie Gay (wicketkeeper)
One Test, 1894, three catches, one stumping
Of England’s 54 wicketkeepers to date, Gay is the only one to have been born in March. His only match was the 1894-95 series’ famous first Test at the SCG. Australia batted first and scored 586, enforced the follow-on with a lead of 261 runs, and lost by ten runs on the sixth day when chasing 177. Apart from his four dismissals, he contributed a valuable 33 and four with the bat. He also represented England three times in football, appropriately as goalkeeper.

Possible tour party members: Michael Atherton, Nawab of Pataudi Sr, David Sheppard, Willie Watson, Maurice Allom, Schofield Haigh, Ted Peate, Ashley Giles.