Much like most other top-level team sports, only performances resulting in victories withstand the test of time. Those tireless efforts, which were not enough to ensure favourable results, are not remembered with the same fondness. The situation is even more palpable in the historic Ashes rivalry wherein cricket transcends from gentleman's game to fierce warfare.
While heroic centuries influencing the outcome of the match as well as the direction of the fabled urn are etched into memory forever, the valiant knocks ending in vain have largely been swept under the rug.
In reverse chronological order, let us revisit five of the greatest Ashes knocks which came in losing cause. With contests outside the comfort zone truly testing a player's mettle, only centuries away from home by both England and Australian batsmen are considered for this particular segment.
#5 Ben Stokes - 120 at Perth (2013)
Even though it has been nearly four years since then, the aftermath of the tremors created by Mitchell Johnson during the 2013/14 series in Australia continues to reverberate. Such was the mayhem induced by the maverick pacer. Sporting a handlebar moustache, he brought back memories of Dennis Lillee at his meanest. The left-armer's ruthless intimidation and merciless demolition of England saw pace bowling reach its zenith in an era designed to facilitate run-scoring. Yet, amidst the debris, one man stood up to Johnson's fury.
Playing just his second Test in the cauldron of Perth, Ben Stokes gave something to cheer for the beleagured Barmy Army. Facing an improbable target of 504, England began their second-innings on a dangerous WACA pitch. With the cracks opening up substantially and Johnson at his fiercest, the visitors were in danger of going out on a whimper.
Coming into bat at 121/4, Stokes produced a counter-attacking knock of the highest order. When Johnson targeted his rib-cage relentlessly, the left-hander treated fire with fire. Responding in kind, he cut and pulled ferociously to offer a rare moment of serenity for the hapless tourists. His 195-ball 120 included a whopping 18 boundaries and a solitary six. An ill-judged sweep shot brought about his downfall. However, when he walked back to the dressing room, the usually partisan crowd applauded his performance in unison. After all, no visiting batsman since Roy Fredericks had played with such gumption at the WACA.