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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

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A pocketful of Ashes trivia

The List plunges into 124 years of history and pull out some trivia ahead of the biggest-billed series in recent decades

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

November 22, 2006

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Flintoff led England to victory by the smallest run-margin in Ashes history at Edgbaston © Cricinfo Ltd

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.

Allround performances (a wicket is worth 25 runs) (qualification: 100 runs and 5 wickets in the match)
Player Runs Wkts Total Match Ground Season Scorecard
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

  • Click here for the full tables.

    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.

    Best match bowling when losing the match
    Player Figures Match Ground Season Scorecard
    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

  • Click here for highest scores in a lost Ashes Test.

    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.

    Closest wins - by wickets
    Winner Margin Match Ground Season Scorecard
    England 1 5th Test The Oval 1902 74
    England 1 2nd Test Melbourne 1907/08 97
    England 2 2nd Test The Oval 1890 34
    Australia 2 1st Test Sydney 1907/08 96
    Australia 3 2nd Test Manchester 1896 51
    England 3 3rd Test Melbourne 1928/29 178
    England 3 4th Test Nottingham 2005 1762
    England 4 1st Test Manchester 1886 22
    Australia 4 3rd Test Adelaide 1901/02 67
    Australia 4 1st Test Nottingham 1981 903
    Australia 4 2nd Test Lord's 1985 1018

  • Click here for narrowest wins in terms of runs.

    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.

    Never winning an Ashes Test
    Player Span Mat Won Lost Draw Runs Ave Wkts Ave
    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

  • Click here for the list of players who never lost an Ashes Test.


    • 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

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    George BinoyClose
    George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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