Ashes to Ashes – A history of Australia at Trent Bridge

With the Australians in town this week, desperate for revenge after being well beaten in the last test, let’s take a look at Ashes cricket at Trent Bridge over the years…

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Australia first came to Nottingham in June 1899 – it was a time of three day test matches and 5-ball overs. The legendary WG Grace captained England in his final test match, although he was outshone in England’s first innings by his opening partner, the great CB Fry who made a 50. Indian Prince Ranji was left on 93 not out in England’s second innings as the game petered out into a draw.

The Ashes returned in 1905 where 6-ball overs were now the norm. Australia led by 25 runs after the first innings. However, England managed to post 426-5 declared in their second with AC MacLaren scoring 140 and the captain, Hon. FS Jackson, finishing not out on 82. BJT Bosanquet then took 8 wickets with his legbreaks and England won by 213 runs.

Australia got a measure of revenge in 1921 as their opening bowlers JM Gregory and EA McDonald both took 8 wickets in the match. England struggled to scores of 112 and 147 and were subsequently beaten by ten wickets.

The 1926 test saw only 17.2 overs bowled as rain washed out the rest of the game. An unbroken opening stand of 32 by England’s JB Hobbs and H Sutcliffe was as exciting as this draw got.

1930 saw arguably the greatest batter of all time, Don Bradman, come to Nottingham. Not only that but by then test matches had been extended to four days However, Hobbs and Sutcliffe continued where they finished off four years previously putting on 53 for the first wicket as England put on 270. Bradman only made 8 in a total of 144 in Australia’s first dig. The England openers put on another 125 before Hobbs was out, England scoring 302. Bradman then scored 131 but Australia could only reach 335, England winning by 93 runs.

Bradman would have his revenge four years later. Despite the fact he scored just 29 and 25, Australia still managed to win by 238 runs. 99 runs on debut by AG Chipperfield and 11 wickets for WJ O’Reilly.

The final Ashes at Trent Bridge before the outbreak of World War 2 was a high scoring draw. CJ Barnett (126), L Hutton (100) and DCS Compton (102) all made hundreds in England’s first innings while E Paynter made a double (216 not out), which meant that England could declare on 658-8. Australia’s reply stuttered to 411 despite a 50 from Bradman and 232 from SJ McCabe. Australia were asked to follow on but centuries from WA Brown (133) and Bradman (144 not out) saw out the draw.

When the Ashes returned to Nottingham in 1948, test matches had expanded again to their current length of five days. England were blown away on the first day ending with just 165. Australia then piled on the pain, Bradman (138) and AL Hassett (137) both reaching three figures as they compiles 509. Built around DCS Compton’s 184, England notched 441 but Australia chased down the 98 they needed for the loss of just two wickets. The only succour for England was that AV Bedser managed to get Bradman out for a duck.

The post-Bradman years saw four draws in a row at Trent Bridge. 1953 saw the fourth day’s play lost due to bad weather which curtailed a thrilling contest. AV Bedser took 7 wickets in each of the Australian innings but Australia still had a 105 run lead after both teams had batted, largely due to AL Hassett’s knock of 115. Australia fared less well second time round scoring just 123 but England’s attempt to chase 229 was left stranded on 120-1 as the match came to a close.

In 1956 England had the luxury of declaring twice but with another full day lost to the weather they didn’t have time to drive home their advantage. A first innings score of 217-8, built around 81 from PE Richardson and 73 from Captain PBH May set the tone before Australia were dismissed for just 148. Richardson was again in the runs with 73 while MC Cowdrey helped himself to 81 as England declared on 188-3. Chasing 258, Australia reached 120-3 at stumps on the final day.

1964 saw yet another full day washed out. G Boycott top scored in England’s first innings as they declared on 216-8. Bowling out the Aussies for 168, England made 193-9 declared second time round with skipper ER Dexter getting 68. The Australians reached 40-2, chasing 242 when the game was finally put to bed.

1972 saw a “proper” draw. Australia, batting first, posted a score of 315 with opener KR Stackpole contributing 114 of them. JA Snow (not the one from Game of Thrones who knows nothing) took 5 wickets for England. Only 189 runs were managed in reply with DK Lillee and RAL Massie taking 4 wickets apiece. Australia declared their second innings on 324-4 with the other opener, R Edwards on 170 not out. Set an improbable 451 to win, England reached 290-4 when handshakes were finally offered. Highlights of the innings being a 96 from BW Luckhurst and an unbeaten 50 from BL D’Olivera.

As punk had an impact across the country in 1977, IT Botham had an impact on the Australian cricket team. Taking 5 wickets in the first innings, the visitors were all out for 243. In reply, England’s 364 was underpinned by 107 from G Boycott and 135 from wicketkeeper APE Knott. Although the second day of the test will mostly be remembered from Boycott running out local here DW Randall. A century from RB McCosker (107) saw Australia reach 309 as RGD Willis took five wickets. That left England needing 189 which they reached for the loss of just three wickets with G Boycott and DW Randall steering them over the line. Boycott also became the first English player to ever bat on all five days of a test match.

The 1981 Ashes series is most often remembered for Botham’s heroics at Headingly. However, for the first test of the series he was actually the captain and his side suffered a chastising defeat. Scoring just one run out of a total of 185, the captain managed to take 2 wickets as Australia slumped to 179 all out. However, DK Lillee and TM Alderman both took 5 wickets as England were swatted aside for just 125. Chasing just 132 for victory, Australia posted a four wicket win.

By the time the Ashes rolled around again in 1985, DI Gower was captaining the England side. However, it was a contest where the bat definitely beat the ball. Despite GF Lawson’s five wicket haul, England notched up 456 runs in their first innings, Gower top scoring with 166. Australia would outdo that with a mammoth 539 including hundreds for opener GM Wood (172) and GM Ritchie (146) That left England to bat out the final day, finishing on 196-2.

However, in 1989, England must have been looking back nostalgically at the days when Australia only scored 539. Batting first they amassed 602-6 declared, the opening pair put on 329 for the first wicket with GR Marsh finishing on 138 and MA Taylor getting 219. Despite 101 from RA Smith, TM Alderman took 5 wickets and England were all out for 255. Asked to follow on, the end was mercifully quick with England all out for just 167 losing by an innings and 180 runs.

The 1993 game saw England score a respectable 321 batting first with the moustachioed MG Hughes claiming 5 scalps. In reply DC Boon scored 101 out of an even more respectable 373. Centuries by GA Gooch (120) and GP Thorpe (114) on debut allowed England to declare on 422-6. Chasing 371 runs to win the match, Australia reached 202-6 as the game ended a draw.

The 1997 series had started with false optimism; a victory in the first test at Edgbaston had given England hope of regaining that little urn. By the time they arrived for the 5th test out of 6 at Trent Bridge, the Australians were 2-1 up and would claim the series with a comprehensive 264 run win. Batting first, the tourists made 427 with each of the top five batsmen making scores of 50+. In reply, England reached 313 but those perennial thorns in England’s side, GD McGrath and SK Warne took 4 wickets each. Making 336 in their second innings, Australia set England a 1972-esque 451 to win and keep the series alive. A battling 82 from GP Thorpe was no match for McGrath and Warne as they both took 3 more wickets to end England’s fading Ashes dreams.

Things didn’t get any better in 2001. GD McGrath again the chief tormentor with 5 wickets as England batted first and struggled to 185 all out, ME Trescothick top scoring with 69. Australia couldn’t do much better and limped to 190, AC Gilchrist with 54 while AJ Tudor took 5 wickets for the hosts. SK Warne took six wickets in England’s second innings as they were skittled out for 162. Any hope of sneaking a win in a low scoring test were soon dashed though as Australia cruised to their target of 158 for the loss of just 3 wickets.

Then came 2005, arguably the greatest test series of all time. Tied 1-1 after the first three tests, the teams arrived in Nottingham. England won the toss and elected to bat. A sterling 102 from A Flintoff saw England post 477. Then the bowlers got to work, SP Jones taking five wickets as Australia couldn’t avoid the follow-on, making 218. Batting again, Australia were looking comfortable until substitute fielder GJ Pratt, on for the injured Jones, made an Ashes legend for himself as he ran out the Australian captain RT Ponting. They still made 387, leaving England a gettable looking 129. England looked like they were cruising to victory with KP Pietersen and A Flintoff at the crease. This is when I realised just how much this series had permeated the national psyche. Watching at home with my friend Ben, who isn’t a cricket fan, he was properly gripped. As Pietersen and Flintoff got out, he kept asking how good the new batsmen were. I told him that GO Jones and AF Giles could bat a bit. Then Jones got out and in came MJ Hoggard. I had to admit to Ben that Hoggard wasn’t the greatest batter in the world and at that stage we still needed 13 runs. It was with a weird mixture of joy and straight up relief that we watched as he hit the winning four.

By the time the Ashes return to Trent Bridge 8 years later it was fully ensconced behind Sky’s paywall. While this may have dampened the public’s enthusiasm, it didn’t affect the exciting nature of the cricket on display. Winning the toss, England decided to bat but struggled making just 215 as PM Siddle took 5 wickets. Australia took a first innings lead, scoring 280 with the sadly departed PJ Hughes making 81 not out as JM Anderson took 5 wickets. The highlight of the innings though came from Australia’s number 11 batsman AC Agar. No number 11 batsman has ever made 100 in the history of test cricket. Agar, on debut, got as close as any one is likely to get, scoring 98. England’s second innings of 375 saw Captain AC Cook score 50, KP Pietersen get 64 and IR Bell get a magnificent 109. However, there was controversy as SCJ Broad didn’t walk after appearing to clearly edge a ball to a fielder. He went on to make a crucial 65. Chasing 311 to win, Australia fell agonisingly close as JM Anderson took another 5 wickets and England won by just 14 runs.

So, what will the 2015 Ashes test at Trent Bridge hold? Will the patrons of the world renowned Trent Bridge Inn be toasting another England victory? Can any of the players join this roll call of Trent Bridge Ashes Greats


Most Aggregate runs – England: DCS Compton 305 Australia: DG Bradman 526
Best Average – England: KS Ranjitsinhji 135.00 Australia: R Edwards 183.00
Highest Score – England: E Paynter 216* Australia: SJ McCabe 232


Most wickets – England: AV Bedser 19 Australia: SK Warne 29
Best Average – England: JE Root, FJ Titmus 6.00 Australia: HSTL Hendry, RT Ponting 9.00
Best figures – BJT Bosanquet 8/107 Australia: WJ O’Reilly 7/54

A special thanks to Cricinfo for all of the statistics used in this piece.

Author’s notes

Originally published on the On Nottingham website. I managed to get a link to this article published on The Guardian’s Over by Over coverage prior to the test match starting and it was the most read piece that ever appeared on On Nottingham


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