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Opinion

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, August

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Roar Rookie
24th June, 2020
19

The series’ penultimate Test, between August-born English and Australian teams, will take place at Headingley.

The hosts have everything to play for after levelling the series two-all at Old Trafford, but must win each of the last two matches to regain the Ashes.

Headingley has hosted 78 Tests to date, including 25 for the urn. The current scoreline is eight wins to the home team and nine to the visitors, with the remaining eight matches drawn. Overall Australia has a batting average advantage of 32.65 to 29.28, equivalent to a comfortable 67-run winning margin.

Unfortunately for England, its strongest August-born team is quite weak. England had to include five bowlers to have any chance of taking 20 wickets and forcing a result, but lacks depth and quality in batting, bowling and captaincy.

In stark contrast, Australia has a strong side that boasts some of the country’s best ever players, including five experienced captains. It’s hard to see the visitors being dismissed twice for low scores, and their new-ball pairing drawn from two legendary new-ball pairs should ensure that any victory target is a small one.

I’m tipping a comfortable win to Australia, with its leader the unanimous man of the match. Given that his personal record at Headingley is four Tests without defeat, 963 runs at 192.60, and a century in each of those matches of which two were triple centuries, any other result is simply inconceivable.

Australia will therefore travel to the Oval for the final Test, with the Ashes already retained.

England August-born

Mark Butcher
71 Tests, 1997-2004, 4288 runs at 34.58, eight centuries
Butcher was a left-handed top-order batsman just like his one-Test father Alan. While often inconsistent and injury-plagued, he did enjoy one successful series against Australia. He scored 456 runs at 50.66 in 2001, including a career-high match-winning 173 not out at Headingley. He also scored Ashes centuries at the Gabba in 1998-99 and the SCG in 2002-03.

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Geoff ‘Noddy’ Pullar
28 Tests, 1959-1963, 1974 runs at 43.86, four centuries
Pullar was a tall left-handed batsman who transitioned from the middle order to opening the innings. His career highlight was an innings of 175 against South Africa at the Oval in 1960, as part of a 290-run opening partnership with Colin Cowdrey. His Ashes performances were less flattering, scoring 457 runs at 26.88 during the 1961 and 1962-63 series, with a highest score of 63. Headingley was the venue of his Test debut.

Cyril Walters
11 Tests, 1933-1934, 784 runs at 52.26, one century
Walters was an elegant Welsh-born batsman who unexpectedly led England against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1934. In that series he scored 401 runs at 50.12 including seven consecutive innings of between 45 and 82. He retired from first-class cricket the following year at only 30 years of age, for health and business reasons.

Graham Thorpe
100 Tests, 1993-2005, 6744 runs at 44.66, 16 centuries
Thorpe was a left-handed batsman capable of both effective counter-attack and dour defence. In a period of weak Ashes performances by England, he enjoyed consistent personal success with 1235 runs at 45.74 from 16 matches including three centuries. Only in the 2001 series, in which he played just one match, did he average below 43.00.

Generic cricket ball image.

Jack Brown
Eight Tests, 1894-1899, 470 runs at 36.15, one century
Brown was a short-statured and polished Yorkshire batsman, who will feel at home at Headingley. His Ashes highlight occurred at the MCG in 1894-95. With the series level at 2-2, and England requiring 297 for victory in the deciding Test, he scored 140 and shared a 210-run partnership with county teammate Albert Ward to secure the Ashes. In 1898, he and John Tunnicliffe shared a 554-run opening partnership for Yorkshire against Derbyshire. He retired from cricket in 1904 at age 34 due to a heart condition, and died six months later.

Godfrey Evans (wicketkeeper)
91 Tests, 1946-1959, 2439 runs at 20.49, two centuries, 173 catches, 46 stumpings
Evans was an extroverted and agile wicketkeeper, who stood up to the stumps for all but the fastest bowlers. He is considered one of the finest glovemen ever, and was England’s first choice in that position for 14 years. Centuries against the West Indies and India aside, his most notable batting performance was a scoreless match-saving innings lasting 97 minutes at Adelaide Oval in 1946-47. His career was delayed by World War II, which commenced when he was aged 19. As a bookmaker, he famously offered Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh odds of 500-1 against England winning at Headingley in 1981.

Dominic Cork
37 Tests, 1995-2002, 864 runs at 18.00, 131 wickets at 29.81
Cork was a fast-medium bowler capable of late swing, and a useful lower-order batsman. His one home and two away Ashes matches returned only five wickets and 65 runs, but in all 27 home matches he took a total of 101 wickets including four five-fors. In 321 first-class matches he scored eight centuries including a double century, and took 989 wickets.

Alfred Shaw (captain)
Seven Tests, 1877-1882, 111 runs at 10.09, 12 wickets at 23.75
Shaw was initially a medium-paced seamer, who turned to spin as he aged. WG Grace described him as England’s finest bowler between 1872 and 1880, and like Grace he was at his peak prior to the commencement of Test cricket. At the age of 35, he bowled the inaugural Test’s first delivery to Charles Bannerman. His figures in that match were 3-51 and 5-38 from 89.3 four-ball overs. His Test career comprised seven of the first eight matches, four as captain, but more as a tour manager/captain than bowler/all-rounder. In 404 first-class matches during 1864-1897, he took 2027 wickets at 12.12, with 177 five-fers. Two thirds of his four- and five-ball overs were maidens. He actually bowled more overs than he conceded runs, or in today’s terms had an economy rate below 1.5 runs per over. His career batting average was higher than his bowling one, so arguably he meets the criteria for all-rounder status. He also led Nottinghamshire to four consecutive county championships during 1883-1886, and arranged the first ever British Lions rugby tour to Australia.

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Bill Voce
27 Tests, 1930-1947, 98 wickets at 27.88
Voce was a tall left-arm fast bowler who formed a potent new-ball pairing with Harold Larwood for both Nottinghamshire and England. His Ashes highlights included 15 wickets at 27.13 in the Bodyline series of 1932-33, and 26 wickets at 21.53 in 1936-37. He spearheaded a 2-0 lead in the latter series by taking 6-41 and 4-16 at the Gabba, then 4-10 and 3-66 at the SCG including the wickets of Leo O’Brien, Don Bradman (first ball) and Stan McCabe (second ball) within four deliveries to reduce Australia to 3-1. When he debuted in first-class cricket aged 17 only five years before the Bodyline series, it was as a slow left-arm orthodox spin bowler. His career was interrupted by World War II, which commenced when he was aged 30. He never played against Australia at home.

Angus Fraser
46 Tests, 1989-1998, 177 wickets at 27.32
Fraser was a tall and reliable seam bowler with a fine record especially overseas, and against leading opponents Australia, South Africa and the West Indies. In 12 Ashes matches spread across five different series he took 46 wickets at 30.06. Personal highlights against Australia included 6-82 and 1-33 at the MCG in 1990-91, 5-87 and 3-44 in an emphatic victory at the Oval in 1993, and 2-26 and 5-73 at the SCG in 1994-95.

Tom Richardson
14 Tests, 1893-1898, 88 wickets at 25.22
Richardson was one of the finest of all fast bowlers, and his stamina enabled him to sustain his pace during regular long spells. His Ashes series figures were 32 wickets at 26.53 in 1894-95, 24 wickets at 18.29 from three matches in 1896, and 22 wickets at 35.27 in 1897-98. Some of his greatest performances took place at Old Trafford where he returned 5-49 and 5-107 on debut, and 7-168 and 6-76 from an astounding 110.3 overs in 1896. His other ten-wicket performances were 6-39 and 5-134 at Lord’s in 1896, and 8-94 and 2-110 at the SCG in his final match. Whenever playing for Surrey, he walked the 14 miles between his home and the Oval each day with kit bag in hand. He died at age 41 of a heart attack while holidaying in France.

Honourable mentions: Rory Burns, Harry Makepeace, Jack Russell, John Emburey, Doug Wright.

Australia August-born

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Bill Woodfull
35 Tests, 1926-1934, 2300 runs at 46.00, seven centuries
Woodfull was a defensively sound opening batsman. He captained Australia in 25 matches including the Bodyline series, and twice to England to regain the Ashes. He and Bill Ponsford formed a successful opening combination for both Victoria and Australia. Both his first and last Tests took place in England, where he averaged more than 50.00 twice in three tours and scored in total 879 runs at 43.95 with three centuries. At the Adelaide Oval in 1932-33, he famously said to England team manager Plum Warner: “There’s two teams out there, and only one of them’s playing cricket.”

Simon Katich
56 Tests, 2001-2010, 4188 runs at 45.03, ten centuries, 21 wickets at 30.23
Katich was a left-handed batsman and useful left-arm wrist-spin bowler. After losing his Cricket Australia contract in 2007 allegedly on the basis that at 31 he was too old, he responded with 1506 runs in the following Sheffield Shield season. Recalled to the Australian team as a result, in his next 28 matches he scored 2697 runs at 56.18 with eight centuries. He played in England for five different county clubs.

Don Bradman (captain)
52 Tests, 1928-1948, 6996 runs at 99.94, 29 centuries
Bradman was indisputably the greatest batsman that the world has ever seen, and arguably also the greatest cricketer of all time. His six innings at Headingley were 334 in 1930, then 304 in 1934, then 103 and 16 in 1938, and finally 33 and 173 not out in 1948. The first of those innings featured a century in each session of the match’s opening day. The last of them anchored a successful last-day chase of 404.

Australia's Don Bradman (r) batting

(Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)

Greg Chappell
87 Tests, 1970-1984, 7110 runs at 53.86, 24 centuries, 47 wickets at 40.70
Chappell was a graceful and technically correct batsman, brilliant slip fieldsman and useful medium-pace bowler. He scored centuries in his debut and final Tests, and two centuries in his first Test as captain. Against England he scored 2619 runs at 45.94 with nine centuries, including 1020 runs at 40.80 in England. His career was interrupted by World Series Cricket, in which his performances included 621 runs at 69.00 in the West Indies in 1978-79. His grandfather and two brothers also played Test cricket.

Jack Ryder
20 Tests, 1920-1929, 1394 runs at 51.62, three centuries, 17 wickets at 43.70
Ryder was a middle-order batsman, fast-medium bowler and good fieldsman. Against England in Adelaide in 1924-25, he scored 201 not out and 88 in an 11-run victory. As captain against England in 1928-29, he scored 492 runs at 54.66. He toured England in 1921 without playing a Test, and again in 1926 when he scored 73 runs at 24.33. When Victoria scored 1107 against New South Wales in 1926-27, with Arthur Mailey taking 4-362, his own share was 295. His career was delayed by World War I, which commenced when he was aged 25.

Lindsay Hassett
43 Tests, 1938-1953, 3073 runs at 46.56, ten centuries
Hassett was a diminutive and quick-footed middle-order batsman, and Don Bradman’s successor as Test captain. In 14 Ashes matches he scored 1572 runs at 38.34, including three centuries in England and one in Australia. He was considered to play Bill O’Reilly better than any other batsman including Bradman, and his final first-class batting average was 58.24. A noted prankster, he once tied a goat to Bradman’s bed. His career was interrupted by World War II, which commenced when he was aged 26.

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Jack Gregory
24 Tests, 1920-1928, 1146 runs at 36.96, two centuries, 85 wickets at 31.15
Gregory was a spectacular all-rounder who bowled extremely quickly in combination with Ted McDonald, caught superbly in slips, and batted left-handed without gloves. His bowling style has been likened to that of Wes Hall. Against England in 1920-21, he scored 442 runs at 73.66 and took 23 wickets at 24.17, including 100 and 7-69 at the MCG. In England in 1921, he took 6-58 and 2-45 at Trent Bridge. In Johannesburg in 1921-22, he scored a century in the record time of 70 minutes, and took 4-71 and 3-68. His career was delayed by World War I, which commenced when he was aged 19, and in his final series in 1926 and 1928-29 he often played when injured and far from his best.

Hammy Love (wicketkeeper)
One Test, 1933, eight runs at 4.00, three catches
Love was a wicketkeeper-batsman who played his only match at the Gabba during the Bodyline series, in place of Bert Oldfield whom Harold Larwood had struck and rendered unconscious during the preceding Test. In 54 first-class matches he scored 2906 runs at 35.01 with seven centuries and a highest score of 192, and took 73 catches and 29 stumpings. His career had been hampered by World War I in which he served, and which did not end until he was 23 years of age.

Jeff Thomson
51 Tests, 1973-1985, 200 wickets at 28.00
Thomson is one of the fastest bowlers in the history of Test cricket, and enjoyed his greatest successes in partnership with Dennis Lillee. Apart from his capacity to beat batsmen with sheer pace and generate lift from a full length, he later developed cut, seam and swing. He took 33 wickets at 17.93 against England in 1974-75, and 29 wickets at 28.65 against the West Indies in 1975-76. On slower English pitches in 1975 and 1977, he played nine matches and took 39 wickets at 26.67.

Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson together in England

(PA Images via Getty Images)

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Bill Whitty
14 Tests, 1909-1912, 65 wickets at 21.12
Whitty was a left-arm fast-medium bowler who swung the ball prodigiously and opened the bowling with Tibby Cotter. He also bowled left-arm finger spin once the ball had become old. Against South Africa in 1910-11, he took 37 wickets at 17.08 including a match-winning 3-81 and 6-17 at the MCG. He played one match in England in 1909, and three each against England and South Africa in the Triangular Tournament in England in 1912. In his final match, against England at the Oval, he took 4-69 and 3-71. His career was then interrupted by World War I, which commenced when he was aged 28.

Tom Kendall
Two Tests, 1877, 14 wickets at 15.35
Kendall was an accurate slow left-arm orthodox spin bowler and left-handed batsman. He was one of six English-born players to represent Australia in the inaugural Test match, in which he took 1-54 and 7-55 to spearhead a historic 45-run victory. In the following match, also at the MCG, he took 4-82 and 2-24. While his first-class career continued until 1888-89 with Victoria and Tasmania, it is unclear why he never represented Australia again.

Possible tour party members: Chris Rogers, Reg Duff, Harry Trott, Andy Bichel, Peter Taylor.