A pocketful of Ashes trivia
Today is the eve of England's defence of - or Australia's attempt to recapture - the Ashes depending on which side of the fence you're sitting on.
The List felt that it was a fitting time to plunge into 124 years of history and pull out some trivia ahead of the biggest-billed series in recent decades.
The epic 2005 series, which features prominently in most of our tables, is fondly remembered as Flintoff's Ashes. His matchwinning effort at Edgbaston - 141 runs and seven wickets - is ranked third in our list of allround performances. We've calculated the index by taking each wicket to be worth 25 runs and added that product to the runs scored by the player.
|G Giffen (Aus)||202||8||402||1st Test||Sydney||1894/95||42|
|IT Botham (Eng)||199||7||374||3rd Test||Leeds||1981||905|
|A Flintoff (Eng)||141||7||316||2nd Test||Birmingham||2005||1758|
|AE Trott (Aus)||110||8||310||3rd Test||Adelaide||1894/95||44|
|H Larwood (Eng)||107||8||307||1st Test||Brisbane||1928/29||176|
|GOB Allen (Eng)||103||8||303||1st Test||Brisbane||1936/37||255|
|JM Gregory (Aus)||100||8||300||2nd Test||Melbourne||1920/21||136|
|EE Hemmings (Eng)||124||6||274||5th Test||Sydney||1982/83||944|
|GH Hirst (Eng)||101||6||251||5th Test||The Oval||1902||74|
|RB Simpson (Aus)||125||5||250||3rd Test||Sydney||1962/63||537|
George Giffen's feats at Sydney in 1894 contributed to an epic contest, the first instance of a team winning after being asked to follow-on. Giffen scored 161 in Australia's first innings score of 586 and then took 4 for 75 to help dismiss England for 325. He took four more during England's follow-on but they managed to set Australia a target of 177. Giffen scored 41 in the final innings - one of three batsmen to pass 20 - but Bobby Peel took six to bowl England to a famous victory by 10 runs, the fifth narrowest run-margin in Ashes history.
The narrowest victory was Edgbaston's two-run thriller in 2005 but enough has been said about that. Before Edgbaston happened, the smallest margin was three runs - at Manchester in 1902 and Melbourne in 1982. Bill Lockwood's 11 for 76 in England's three-run defeat at Manchester is the sixth best bowling performance in a lost Ashes Test.
|SF Barnes (Eng)||13/163||2nd Test||Melbourne||1901/02||66|
|T Richardson (Eng)||13/244||2nd Test||Manchester||1896||51|
|CTB Turner (Aus)||12/87||Only Test||Sydney||1887/88||27|
|H Trumble (Aus)||12/89||3rd Test||The Oval||1896||52|
|H Trumble (Aus)||12/173||5th Test||The Oval||1902||74|
|WH Lockwood (Eng)||11/76||4th Test||Manchester||1902||73|
|FR Spofforth (Aus)||11/117||3rd Test||Sydney||1882/83||12|
|DL Underwood (Eng)||11/215||5th Test||Adelaide||1974/75||754|
|MW Tate (Eng)||11/228||1st Test||Sydney||1924/25||158|
|RM Hogg (Aus)||10/122||2nd Test||Perth||1978/79||836|
The 1902 Ashes also had another thriller apart from the Old Trafford Test. Australia had already won the series ahead of the final Test at The Oval. They looked good to make the scoreline 3-0 when they took a first-innings lead of 141. Lockwood took another five-for to keep Australia down to121 in the second innings but England's victory target was nevertheless a daunting 263. Defeat seemed inevitable when England slipped to 48 for 5 but Gilbert 'The Croucher' Jessop blitzed 104 in 77 minutes. He fell when 76 runs were still needed but George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes took England to victory with one wicket in hand.
|England||1||5th Test||The Oval||1902||74|
|England||2||2nd Test||The Oval||1890||34|
There are those who've been unfortunate enough to never play a part in an Ashes Test win. Robin Smith leads that table having won none of his 15 Tests and losing 11 though he scored 1074 runs at an average of 39.77. In his last Ashes in 1993, Smith struggled against the spinners to whom he fell seven times out of ten with Shane Warne accounting for four of those. He was dropped for the final Test and England promptly won the dead match to lose the series 1-4. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the table is Michael Kasprowicz. He played six Ashes Tests during the height of Australia's dominance and lost four while two were drawn.
|RA Smith (Eng)||1989-1993||15||0||11||4||1074||39.77||0||-|
|NWD Yardley (Eng)||1946-1948||10||0||7||3||402||23.64||19||30.31|
|CH Parkin (Eng)||1920-1921||9||0||7||2||152||11.69||32||34.06|
|RC Russell (Eng)||1989-1991||9||0||6||3||391||32.58||0||-|
|RJ Bright (Aus)||1977-1981||8||0||5||3||169||13.00||17||31.58|
|W Watson (Eng)||1953-1959||7||0||3||4||272||20.92||0||-|
|C White (Eng)||2001-2002||7||0||7||0||192||16.00||15||48.06|
|CAG Russell (Eng)||1920-1921||6||0||4||2||474||52.66||0||-|
|MS Kasprowicz (Aus)||1997-2005||6||0||4||2||65||7.22||20||33.50|
|WE Midwinter (Aus)||1884-1887||5||0||3||2||91||11.37||2||53.00|
- Syd Gregory's 201 at Sydney is the highest score in a lost Ashes Test. Incidentally, it was the same Test that England won despite Giffen's allround magic.
- Gregory has also played 52 Ashes Tests - the most for any player. Colin Cowdrey's 43 is the highest for an England player.
- The Adelaide Oval is Australia's best Ashes venue (at least 10 Tests). They've won 15 of the 28 Tests played there, lost eight and drawn five. England's most successful venue is Sydney where they've won 21 of their 47 matches and drawn six.
Travis Basevi is the man who built Statsguru. George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo