With the redeveloped Adelaide Oval with it’s drop in pitch ready to host it’s first Test, take a look back at past Ashes Tests at the venue.
One of the most insipid and demoralising defeats Australia has ever suffered. It all began with a disastrous first half hour. Australia won the toss and batted but on the fourth ball of the morning Shane Watson called for a leg bye and his partner Simon Katich was run out without having faced a ball – a diamond duck. The very next ball Ricky Ponting was dismissed for a golden duck caught by Graeme Swann at second slip off James Anderson. Australia were 2-0 and the game was not even one over old. Worse was to come with Michael Clarke dismissed the first ball of Anderson’s next over caught once again by Graeme Swann. Australia were 3-2 after 13 deliveries. It was the worst start to an Australian Test innings in 60 years. Half centuries to Shane Watson, Mike Hussey (93) and Brad Haddin added some respectability to the total but Australia were all out for 245 in 86 overs with James Anderson taking 4-51.
In reply England got off to a shaky start with Strauss bowled by Doug Bollinger’s 3rd ball. From there however it was all one way traffic. A semi fit Bollinger huffed and puffed his way through a further 28 overs with out success conceding 130 runs and “hitting the wall.” Bollinger was brought into the Test team to replace Mitchell Johnson, who had been dropped after the first test at the Gabba and was doing remedial bowling action work in the Adelaide Oval nets. Bollinger hasn’t played a test since.
Xavier Doherty, the Tasmanian left arm orthodox spinner, had been controversly brought into the Ashes squad at the expense of the incumbent off spinner Nathan Hauritz. The reasoning was Kevin Pietersen’s perceived weakness against left arm spin. Well Doherty did get KP in Adelaide – after he’d made 227. Doherty’s figures put Bollinger’s in the shade: 27 overs, 1 for 158 at the almighty clip of 5.85 runs per over. Doherty played in the first 2 tests of the Ashes series for figures of 3 wicket at an average 102. He was then dropped for 2 years.
Early on Day 4 after nearly two days of batting, England called time, declaring at 5 for 620 at 4.07 runs per over with Alistair Cook contributing one of his signature “daddy” hundreds of 148 and Peterson the aforementioned 227. Australia had two days to bat to save the test and were looking comfortable as the last over of Day 4 approcahed with two set batsmen, Clarke and Hussey, at the crease. Cometh the moment cometh the man, fresh off his double ton, Kevin Pietersen bowling his off spin delivered the the last over of the day and dismissed Clarke caught at bat pad. It was Pietersen’s first test wicket in 2 years. The next morning Australia were rolled in 90 minutes with Graeame Swan taking a five wicket haul and Simon Katich limped out of Test cricket with an Achilles injury never to be seen again in a baggy green. Australia had lost by an innings and 71 runs and England led the Ashes 1-0.
The great escape/capitulation. If 2010 was the lowest point in Adelaide Ashes Test four years earlier was undoubtedly a high point from an Australian perspective. England batted first and thanks to 206 to Paul Collingwood and 158 to Kevin Peitersen declared at 6 for 551. In reply Australia managed 513 with centuries to Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting. Australia were the beneficiaries of some sloppy fielding by Ashley Giles at deep square leg who dropped Ponting on 35. Ponting went on to top score in the innings with 142 in the process becoming the most prolific Australian century maker with 33 Test hundreds. The tireless Matthew Hoggard produced the amazing figures of 7/109 and dismissed 5 of Australia’s top 7. By the end of Day 4 the match looked headed for a draw with England 1/59 in their second innings a lead of 97 runs. Day 5 dawned and after a sedate first 10 overs all hell broke loose – England lost 4/8 in 8 overs to be 5/77. The tail managed to hang around for a session with Paul Collingwood who batted for 3 hours and 18 minutes for 22 not out off 119 balls before England were dismissed for 129 at tea. Shane Warne took 4/43 off 32 overs and none of the Australian bowlers went for over 2 runs per over. Australia had a session to chase 168 for a victory that had look improbable if not impossible at the start of the day’s play. One day guru Mike Hussey, promoted above Damien Martyn, saw the team home in 33 overs with an unbeaten 61 off 66 balls. Ricky Ponting was Man of the Match and Damien Martyn walked away from international cricket. Australia lead the Ashes 2-0 after two tests.
In the second test of the 2002/03 series, England won the toss and batted and managed 342 thanks to a magnificent 177 to opener Michael Vaughan. The next highest score was captain grumpy, Nasser Hussian’s 47 and the middle and lower order capitulated with England losing their last 7 wicket for 47 runs. Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie claimed four wickets apiece. Australia replied with 9 for 552 declared thanks to 154 to Ricky Ponting and 95 to Damien Martyn. England’s best performed bowler was the Bendigo raised, Australian U19 and Victorian representative, Craig White who took 4 wickets including that of his brother in law, Darren Lehmann. As was their want in this period, England rolled over in the second innings to be all out for 159 with who else but Glenn McGrath taking 4/41. McGrath also pulled off a stunning, running, boundary line catch off the bowling of Shane Warne to dismiss Michael Vaughan in the second innings. Robert Key, a batsman more closely aligned in looks to Mike Gatting than a modern professional cricketer, contributed 1 in each innings. Ricky Ponting was once again Man of the Match for his century as Australia won by an innings and 51 runs to lead the Ashes 2-0 after 2 tests.
Adelaide was the 3rd Test of the 1998/99 Ashes. Australia had a 1-0 lead after a draw in Brisbane and a 3 day victory in Perth. On the eve of the match the “John the Bookie” scandal broke with Mark Waugh and Shane Warne found to have supplied pitch information to a bookmaker on a previous tour of Sri Lanka. Warne wasn’t playing in the test, and didn’t play until the final test in Sydney, due to a broken finger he’d suffered playing Shield cricket for Victoria in his comeback from shoulder surgery. Despite the controversy Mark Waugh took his place in the test team but it was Justin Langer who shone with 179 as Australia managed 391 batting first. In reply England’s batsmen could collectively only muster 2 half centuries and just 227 in total losing their last 7 wickets for 40 as Warne’s replacement, Stuart MacGill claimed four wickets. Australia’s second innings was highlighted by a century to Michael Slater that left England needing an unlikely 443 for victory. Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming and the versatile Colin ‘Funky’ Miller with his combination of medium pace and off spin dismissed England for 237 to give Australia victory by 205 runs. Australia had retained the Ashes in 13 days of cricket.
In 1994/95 Adelaide hosted the fourth test in it’s “traditional” timeslot of Australia Day. Australia held a 2-0 lead going into Adelaide thanks to victories in Brisbane and Melbourne and a draw in Sydney that meant it retained the Ashes. Australia fielded two debutants, two local South Australians, in batsmen Greg Blewett and leg spinner Peter McIntyre who partnered Shane Warne. England batted first and thanks to patient innings of 80 and 117 respectively to Michael Atherton and Mike Gatting managed 353. Gatting’s 410 minute innings was particularly ‘patient’ spending 77 minutes in the 90s including a painful 31 minutes on 99. It was his 10th and final test century and his first since August 1987. In reply Mark Taylor managed 90 but the story was Greg Blewett who, batting at number 6, made 102 not out on debut to lead Australia to 419. In their second innings England were 6-181 holding a lead of just 115 until in stepped Phil DeFreitas with a whirlwind 88 off 95 balls to belie his Test batting average of 14 and set Australia the challenging target of 263. Somewhat surprisingly, Mark Waugh was Australia’s best bowler with 5 for 40, his best Test bowling figures and the only 5 wicket haul in Test cricket.
The Australian’s weren’t up to the final day task of chasing 263 in 67 overs and failed to bat out a draw being bundled out for 156 in 61.1 overs. England had wrapped up victory with just 35 balls remaining in the test. The chief destroyers for England were the fast but erratic Devon Malcolm and the pace bowling allrounder Chris Lewis both of whom took 4 wickets. Following an injury crisis in the England team Lewis had been called up for the Adelaide Test from sub-district cricket in Melbourne. In this Test, he was fined for repeatedly pointing Craig McDermott to the dressing room after dismissing him late on Day 5. Lewis was an interesting cricketer, an allrounder of immense talent who never fulfilled his potential. In a storied career on and off the field, Lewis, despite being born in Guyana, decided to shave his head and field without a hat in a tour match in the West Indies in 1994. He suffered severe sunstroke causing him to miss the following Test and The Sun newspaper labelled him “The Prat Without A Hat” Lewis is now spending time in prison after being convicted of drug smuggling. In the current era where every second English cricketer seems to be born in South Africa, it is interesting to note that Australia’s tormentors in Adelaide in 1995: Chris Lewis (Guyana), Phil DeFreitas (Dominica) and Devon Malcolm (Jamaica) were all born in the West Indies.