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The Ashes: 5 Best England vs Australia home series in history

BY Tim Ellis

14th Jun 2023 Sport

The Ashes: 5 Best England vs Australia home series in history

With the Ashes 2023 fast approaching, we rank the greatest test match clashes between England and Australia in cricket history

The Australians are the current holders of the Ashes after another crunching victory on home turf 18 months ago.

On UK territory, it’s a very different story. A Ben Stokes bonanza and Bazball aggression might be enough to reclaim the urn in English conditions.

Australia have lost four and drawn one of the last five series against their oldest rivals since Steve Waugh’s side triumphed 4-1 here in 2001. It all started with that incredible summer 18 years ago.

2005 The Ashes: The greatest Series—England 2: Australia 1

Has there ever been a more thrilling box set of cricket? As John Wisden notes, “The whole country and the rest of the cricketing world were in its thrall. It was so intense and played with such purpose that it supplanted football on the back pages and much else on the front pages.”

Led by captain Michael Vaughan, England ambushed Australia’s best players with a pincer attack from Harmison, Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones.

Kevin Pietersen smashed Glenn McGrath for six back down the ground in his first Test match.

"It was so intense and played with such purpose that it supplanted football on the back pages"

Flintoff hit freely and bowled one of the best overs ever against Ricky Ponting in the thrilling two-run victory at Edgbaston that sparked the rollercoaster.

Even though the late great Shane Warne took 40 wickets, the Aussies couldn’t cope with the intensity of their old foe.

Over 100,000 spectators roared for their heroes on a double-decker bus parade the day after the series finished. Some of the English team were too hungover to appreciate it.

2009 Flintoff bows out as Strauss takes the urn—England 2: Australia 1

Flintoff bowls for England at The Ashes 2009Credit: Nic Redhead from Birmingham, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. In spite of increasing injuries, Flintoff bowled heroically for England in 2009

The 2009 series started ominously when Australia piled up over 650 at Cardiff. It was left to Jimmy Anderson and the inimitable Monty Panesar to see out the last hour for a nail-biting draw.

From there, Andrew Strauss drove the advantage home with his calm leadership, scoring just under 500 runs in the series.

Mitchell Johnson was a stray bird at times rather than the frightening firebrand that stunned England in 2013 down under.

Folk hero Flintoff was increasingly prone to injury but played out the last action hero status to perfection on the final day at the Oval, running out Ponting for 66. He also claimed a five-fer at Lord’s and got down on bended knee to acclaim from his audience.

2013 England take the spoils in tetchy contest—England 3: Australia 0

The series was bookended by a dramatic first Test that England won thanks to Anderson’s ten-wicket haul and a crazy Oval finish, where Pietersen smashed a quick 62 before the chase was called off in the fading light. Only cricket knows how to dull the entertainment.

Despite the scoreline, 2013 was one of the least memorable home series in recent years as it laid the seeds of England’s horrendous whitewash in the return just months later.

Jonathan Trott’s mindset was the wrong side of intense while Graeme Swann’s 26 wickets would virtually be his last hurrah. Andy Flower’s micromanagement was already causing tensions with Pietersen, and this would all explode in Australia.

On the field, Anderson and Broad used the English conditions to take 22 wickets apiece against a failing Australian batting unit, while Ian Bell hit three sumptuous centuries to finally shake off Warne’s cruel nickname. He was The Sherminator no more.

2015 Joe takes root as Steve Smith bursts forth—England 3: Australia 2

English cricket team arm in arm at The Ashes 2015Credit: Tim Felce, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Australia may have had the highest run scorers at first, but England still beat them to the 2015 title

The 2015 series showcased the immense talent of Joe Root and Steve Smith, who scored just under 1000 runs between them in the series.

It was the Australians who boasted the two highest run scorers, but their batting line-up imploded on the first morning of the Fourth Test when homeboy Stuart Broad produced a mesmerising spell of seam bowling at Trent Bridge.

"His five wickets in 19 balls were the fastest for a Test opening bowler and joint fastest for any bowler"

He took 8 for 15 as Australia were skittled for 60 within 20 overs.

His five wickets in 19 balls were the fastest for a Test opening bowler and joint fastest for any bowler.

Cricinfo claimed, “Australia's batsmen were awash with paranoia. He bowled a perfect, inviting length on a good old-fashioned English seamer.”

2019 Stokes saves England and Warner is Broad's rabbit—England 2: Australia 2

Ben Stokes nonchalantly scores 100 at The Ashes 2019Credit: Ben Sutherland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Ben Stokes nonchalently scores 100 at The Ashes' Third Test

England were now under Root’s stewardship and had the secret weapon of Test debutant Jofra Archer’s searing pace.

However, a promising position on the first day of the series turned sour as Smith smashed 144 of a staggering 744 runs in the series overall.

It was odds on 2-0 and lights out when Jack Leach came to the wicket at Headingley with 73 still needed. Ben Stokes then did Ben Stokes things to keep the series alive.

"The last game at The Oval made it 18 years since an Aussie series win in England"

Australia’s deadly trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon shared almost 70 wickets.

Stuart Broad dismissed David Warner seven times in ten innings to keep Australia’s other danger man in check.

England won the consolation prize of the last game at The Oval to make it 18 years since an Aussie series win in England. Make that 22 and counting…

Banner: Ben Sutherland, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

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