5 unsung heroes in the history of the Ashes
When other players took the limelight, these sportsmen held their own in the background.
Over the years, the Ashes battles have provided the cricketing world with players who went on to make a huge impact on the game. There cannot be a bigger occasion than this for either an Australian or an English cricketer to inspire his side to glory or to salvage his nation’s pride in the grimmest of times.
And there have been players who quietly did their job and performed exceedingly well even when the spotlight was not on them. They seized the moment, absorbed pressure and helped their team get out of troublesome/tricky situations.
Let’s look at five such players who were the unsung heroes for their side in an Ashes series.
Brad Haddin (2013-14)
Playing in the same era as Adam Gilchrist, Brad Haddin made his Test debut at the age of 30 in 2008, becoming Australia’s 400th Test player.
Haddin made up for lost time by eventually becoming vice-captain under Michael Clarke's leadership, and became a key senior figure in a side that was going through a transition.
Haddin had a couple decent Ashes series before the 2013-14 one. In the 2010-11 Ashes at home, he scored 360 runs at an average of 45 and in 2013 in England, he set a new record for most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in a Test series with 29 dismissals.
Never was he more important than during the 2013-14 Ashes clean-sweep. He bailed Australia out of tricky situations in almost every first innings of the series.
In the first Test, Australia, batting first were in deep trouble at 132/6, but Haddin along with Johnson (64) helped the hosts reach a respectable 295. Haddin (94), who top-scored and was the last wicket to fall, held one end and upped the ante after Johnson’s dismissal.
In the second innings, he scored a quick-fire 53, helping Australia declare at 401. In the second Test, Haddin went one notch higher as he scored his 4th Test hundred and along with Clarke helped Australia reach a mammoth 570.
In the following Tests, Haddin came in at 143/5, 112/5 and 97/5. From those tough positions, he helped Australia reach decent totals. He scored 55, 65 and 75 on those instances respectively.
In that series though, Johnson and Harris wreaked havoc and David Warner was the highest run-getter – and this meant the spotlight never was on Haddin. He finished the series with 493 runs in 8 innings with 5 half-centuries and a hundred.