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The Ashes: Three greatest series successes in England

Thirty-six series have been played in England since the idea of the Ashes sprang into life back in 1882, when Australia claimed a stunning seven-run win over England at The Oval.

That prompted a now legendary piece in the Sporting Times which read in part: "In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882.

"R.I.P. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

Ever since the little urn has been the most prized trophies in the game and Australia have won 14 of the 36 series played in England, the last of those victories coming back in 2001.

WhatEngland v Australia, 2023 Ashes series
WhereEdgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford, The Oval
WhenFriday 16th June - Monday 31st July 2023
How to watchChannel 9
Odds (outright)England 2.60, Draw 6.50, Australia 1.95

Five following series in England have seen four losses and a 2-2 draw in 2019 and this year the Baggy Greens will be looking to end a 22-year wait for success against their oldest rival in their own backyard.

Here we take a look at three of their greatest-ever Ashes successes in England.

1948 - The Invincibles

There's really no place to start other than 1948, when Australia played out an entire tour of England of 34 matches without being beaten - winning 25 and drawing nine.

The five-match Test series was won 4-0, with the third game of the series at Old Trafford ending in a draw.

And the margins of the four Australia wins were huge, by eight wickets at Trent Bridge, 409 runs at Lord's, seven wickets at Headingley and finally an innings and 149 runs at The Oval.

And a look at the touring party explains that level of success, with captain Don Bradman having the likes of Lindsay Hassett, Neil Harvey, Arthur Morris, Don Tallon, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and Bill Johnston at his disposal.

Bradman himself contributed a rather sedate - by his own standards - 508 runs at 72.57, while left-hander Morris was the undoubted star of the show with the bat as he racked up 696 runs at exactly 87, making three centuries and three 50s in just nine innings.

With the ball Lindwall and Johnston ended level on 27 wickets apiece, with the latter equally adept at left-arm pace and spin, while Miller chipped in with 13 wickets.

The dominance of the 1948 side set the standard by which all following Australian touring sides would be measured.

1989 - Border starts up era of success

Australia arrived in England in 1989 hoping to claim only a second series victory on their old foe's soil since 1964, with 1975 the only other success in that 25-year period.

Almost nothing was expected of the tourists, but the nuggety character of skipper Allan Border would draw the very best from his team - with Australia using just 12 players in the six-match series as the hosts chopped and changed and used 29.

Five of the Australia top six averaged over 50, with Steve Waugh top of the pile with an astonishing average of 126.50, although it was future captain Mark Taylor who was the standout performer.

He made 839 runs at 83.90, scoring the third-highest number of runs in an Ashes series, with only Bradman and England great Wally Hammond above him.

The pinnacle came in the fifth Test at Trent Bridge as Taylor and opening partner Geoff Marsh put on 329 for the first wicket, staying together until almost lunch on the second day.

With the ball, two veterans of the scarring 1981 series defeat in England helped exact revenge, with swing and seam expert Terry Alderman taking an amazing 41 wickets, just one short of his tally eight years earlier.

Geoff Lawson provided the out and out pace spearhead and collected 29 wickets, while Merv Hughes played an important role as he unsettled the England batters with his hostility, as Australia again recorded huge margins of victory in their dominant 4-0 triumph.

1993 - Ball of the Century

Having got the ball rolling in1989 in England, Australia would not be beaten in an Ashes series, home or away, until 2005.

And their following trip to England after the success under Border would see one of the most iconic moments in Test history take place in the first Test at Old Trafford.

Shane Warne was still a relatively inexperienced leg-spinner with just 11 Tests behind him as he came on to bowl for the first time in England on day two in Nottingham.

What happened next is well remembered to this day as he delivered a ball to Mike Gatting which pitched well outside leg stump, turned and bounced and hit the top of off stump - a truly shattering dismissal.

From there on in England were toast, as Australia swept to a 4-1 series victory, with the only loss coming in the final match of the series at The Oval, when the Ashes had long been decided.

While all of the Baggy Greens batting line-up made hay against an ever-changing England attack, it was with the ball that the real damage was inflicted.

Warne ended the six-match series with 34 wickets, with the fiery Hughes just three behind him, while wily off-spinner Tim May was a major contributor with 21 wickets and seamer Paul Reiffel claimed 19 wickets.

But, above all, the series is truly remembered for the moment Warne became a global superstar, a status he would retain for the rest of his history-making career.

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