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The Ashes 2013: Most memorable innings

SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10 08 Jul 2013, 21:01 IST
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Note – Fifteen of the best knocks includes only those innings that the author of the article has watched live. Also, the article will be released in three segments.

When Australia and England meet in an Ashes Test series, it is time for the battle royale. Those 22 cricketers ready to take the field at Trent Bridge in two days’ time won’t mind even bleeding to their bones, for the sake of their beloved country. In short, for an Australian or an Englishman, Ashes series is a microcosm of well-established traditions of the society.

Over the years, many epic and memorable battles have been fought by innumerable gladiators from both countries on a 22-yard strip. Today, I would bring out fifteen of the awe-inspiring and heart-stirring  knocks played by cricketers who have beguiled, and bedazzled cricket lovers with a willow in hand in Ashes contests.

So folks, it is time now for some lights, camera and action.

5th Test Match  -  Australia v England

Graham Thorpe at WACA, Perth. He scored 129.

15) Thorpe meeting fire with fire at WACA in 1994/’95 -

In the 90s, in the world of cricket, Australia lorded over England by having a vice-like grip over Ashes contests. In fact, they just ruthlessly obliterated their Ashes opponent for more than a decade.

In 94/’95, it was the same old story going into the final Test played on a trampoline WACA wicket. Australia had already retained the Ashes. But one English cricketer by the name of Graham Paul Thorpe wanted to prove a point or two.

The plucky, Thorpe had already made a spectacular century on his debut against the pillaging Aussies at Trent Bridge in ’93. But playing in alien conditions, and that too on the quickest track in the cricketing world was always going to be a litmus test of his character. Thorpe took up the gauntlet head-on by making a sparkling hundred at WACA, and passed the litmus test with flying colours.

In that Test match at WACA, Australia had notched up a sizeable score of 403 in the first innings. To make it worse for Thorpe, the metronomic, McGrath snared two wickets in two balls to leave England in tatters at 5 for 2.

Thorpe somehow survived a nasty back of a length delivery first up from McGrath. However, when Thorpe essayed a rasping cover-drive of towering giant, Jo Angel, it was crystal clear that we were in for a keen contest.

The highlight of that innings by Thorpe was the way he shifted his weight onto the back-foot to play some scorching pull shots against mighty fine pacers from Down Under.

When the scoreboard read 32 for 2, he pounced on a picture-perfect back of a length delivery from McGrath by pulling it in front of square. McGrath got furious, and bowled a snorter of a bouncer, but perhaps emboldened by how he was able to pull McGrath’s previous delivery, in a flash, Thorpe hooked him to send the ball rocketing to the boundary boards. McGrath could only snarl and growl at Thorpe that day.

Even the-then spearhead of Australia’s pace battery, McDermott and Angel weren’t spared. Whenever the wizard of Oz, Warne came into the attack, Thorpe played him with utmost ease. It was a glorious artwork of wonderful stroke-play from the southpaw. The author of the article rates this knock by Thorpe, as the best he has seen by an Englishman in Australia, during their dark days of 90s.

Unfortunately for Thorpe and England, only the much-maligned Ramprakash gave him support. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that in spite of Thorpe’s herculean efforts, Australia thumped them by a whopping margin of 329 runs.

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