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5 best Ashes batsmen for England

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Guard of Honour: Maurice Leyland (R), pictured with teammate Bill Bowes
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The Ashes is the most historic and storied clash in international cricket and it is still regarded as the most important Test series in the cricketing calendar. The first series Test series between the two nations was played in 1876-77, but it was not known as The Ashes at the time.

The series got its moniker in 1882, and has been known by it ever since.

This year England and Australia will contest the 70th Ashes series Down Under in 135 years and hence it is a good time to look back at some of the visitors' best batsmen in the series. Some of England's greatest batsmen have performed magnificent feats in the Test series against the old enemy but some of them stand out for their stupendous performances.

Here is a look at 5 of the best performers among English batsmen.

5 Maurice Leyland

Maurice Leyland
Maurice Leyland

Left-handed middle-order batsman Maurice Leyland played for a period of 9 years, and participated in a total of 6 Ashes series. He remains one of the most successful English batsmen in the history of the contest.

Among the 9 centuries that he scored in his career, 7 of them were scored in the Ashes and he averaged 56.83 in 20 Tests against Australia, as opposed to his career average of 46.06. Needless to say, it is pretty clear that Leyland raised his game against the Australians.

In his very first innings against Australia at Melbourne back in 1929, he scored 137 and went on to score heavily against them over the next 5 series. In the 1934 series in England, the hosts ended up on the losing side but Leyland peeled off 3 centuries at an average of 68.28.

In is last innings in the 1938 Ashes at The Oval, Leyland scored 187, which would be the highest score in his career.

4 Ken Barrington

Barrington Batting
Ken Barrington

One of England's greatest post-war batsmen, Ken Barrington almost always rose to the occasion when he played the Ashes and although he was not on the winning side in any of the 5 series that he played, his run-making against the Australians was quite extraordinary. He was an ultra-attacking batsman in his early years but later on became a far more cautious batsman by curbing his instincts and that led to a further glut of runs.

In total, he played 23 games against Australia and averaged almost 64 across those games, spread across 5 series. He also scored 13 half centuries in the Ashes and in addition to that, his highest career score of 256 also came against Australia in the at Manchester in the 1964 Ashes.

However, what is even more noteworthy is the fact that 4 out of his 5 centuries in the Ashes came in Australia and that is without a doubt, the mark of a batsman who saved his best for when the going got tough.

3 Sir Len Hutton

Hutton's Record Innings
Sir Len Hutton

Sir Leonard Hutton is still regarded as one of the most technically accomplished batsmen to have ever played the game and as an opening batsman, he scored heavily in the 5 Ashes series that he played.

In his very first Ashes in 1938, he scored a century at Nottingham and in the game at the Oval in the same series, he scored a mammoth 364 to secure the world record for the highest individual score in Test cricket. The record stood for nearly 20 years.

Sir Hutton recorded an average of 118.25 in that first Ashes series and the trend continued in the years to come. He scored 5 centuries and 14 half-centuries in 6 Ashes series, the last two of which were won by England. His overall average in Tests against Australia stood at 56.46, which is the 4th highest English batsmen (from a minimum 20 Tests).

2 Herbert Sutcliffe

Herbert Sutcliffe
Herbert Sutcliffe

In a Test career spanning 11 years and 54 Tests, England opening batsman Herbert Sutcliffe reached the pinnacle of technical excellence and in the process, also plundered plenty of runs against the biggest rivals in 6 Ashes series.

Sutcliffe averages the highest of all English batsmen to have played at least 20 Test against Australia with a stunning average of 66.85. In his very first series in Australia in 1924-25, he amassed 734 runs, that included 4 centuries and to 2 half centuries.

In the six series in which he played, England won three of them, while Australia won the other three and even in his last series in 1934, when he failed to score a century, he averaged over 50. In all his Ashes, Sutcliffe scored 8 centuries and 16 half-centuries, which makes him one of the best batsmen to have ever taken guard for England against the Australians.

1 Jack Hobbs

1926 JACK HOBBS
Jack Hobbs, 1926

In 135 years of Ashes cricket, no English batsman has scored as many runs against the Australians as Jack Hobbs and considering the fact that he maintained an average of 54.26 over 41 Tests speaks volumes about his claim as England's greatest batsman in this particular encounter.

Hobbs scored 3636 runs in 41 Tests and along with that, scored 12 centuries and 15 half-centuries across 11 Ashes series stretching over a period of 12 years. Irrespective of whether the series was at home or in Australia, he rose to the occasion almost every time and in fact, he achieved his highest series average of 82.75 during England's triumphant campaign in Australia in 1911-12.

Hobbs was the best batsman in the world at the time and he made the most of his opportunities in the biggest games. No one has quite come close to him yet as far as batting excellence in the Ashes is concerned.

Edited by Anuradha Santhanam

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