Widely regarded as the biggest Test rivalry in cricket, the Ashes is where heroes are born. One of the oldest rivalries in the history of the sport, England squaring off against Australia always makes for headline news, and when the two sides meet in Tests, the stakes can’t get any higher. Several heroes and legends emerge from the Ashes courtesy their performances with bat and ball. Here, we have a look at the top five highest-scoring batsmen in the history of a single Ashes series.
Sir Donald Bradman – 974 runs in five Tests and seven innings
Sir Donald Bradman topping this list will hardly come as a surprise to most. The legendary Australian batsman was a thorn in the side of the English bowlers ever since his debut against them and not much had changed when the Aussies toured their great rivals in 1930. Bradman was in imperious form, finishing the tour with an average of 139.14 and scoring four centuries along the way to help Australia come from 1-0 down and win the series 2-1.
He scored a game-defining 254 and 232 to help the tourists win the second and fifth Tests respectively. His other two tons on the tour came when he scored 131 during a loss in the first Test and 334 during a draw in the third.
Wally Hammond – 905 runs in five Tests and nine innings
England legend Wally Hammond dominated Australia’s bowling line-up during their tour down under in 1928-29. He finished the tour with a stunning average of 113.12 and made four centuries to help England register a comfortable 4-1 series win. Hammond scored big tons, the first of which came in England’s first innings of the second Test when he made 251. His second century was another double ton – 200 to be precise – and it happened in the first innings of the third Test. Hammond's other two hundreds both came in the fourth Test after he made an unbeaten 119 in the first innings and 177 in the second.
Mark Taylor – 839 runs in six Tests and 11 innings
The only six-match Ashes on this list, the 1989 tour of England was a highly productive one for Mark Taylor who had just made his debut for the Aussies earlier that year. He finished the tour with an average of 83.90 and notched up two hundreds and five fifties, including a best of 219. He scored 136 in the opening innings of the first Test and his 219 came in the fifth Test, which he was adjudged the Player of the Match for. Australia won both the matches in which Taylor scored a century and he was consistent throughout the tour as his five fifties suggest. Australia eventually won the series 4-0 after claiming victories in the second and fourth Tests as well.
Sir Donald Bradman – 810 runs in five Tests and nine innings
England’s first tour of Australia after the infamous bodyline series, the 1936-37 Ashes saw Bradman star in a 3-2 series victory for the hosts. Bradman scored three centuries as well as a fifty at an average of 90 during that series to help his team come back from being 2-0 down to winning the series. Unsurprisingly, his three tons came in the three winning efforts for the hosts in the third, fourth and fifth Tests. He scored 270 while batting at seven in the second innings of the third Test, made a crucial 212 in the second innings of the fourth Test and managed 169 in the opening innings of the fifth Test.
Steve Smith – 774 runs in four Tests and seven innings
The most recent series on the list, Steve Smith’s heroics in the 2019 Ashes tour will live long in memory. Making his Test comeback after a year-long ban due to ball-tampering, Smith wasn’t just up against England’s strong bowling line-up but also a hostile crowd desperate to see him fail. Smith, though, batted like a man possessed, making three tons and three fifties at an average of 110.57.
He could have possibly gotten more runs but had to sit out one Test after suffering a concussion due to a knock to the head courtesy a Jofra Archer bouncer. Smith scored 144 in the first and 142 in the second innings of the opening Test. He then made 211 in the fourth Test after recovering from his concussion and helped Australia draw the series 2-2 to retain the Ashes.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Lindsey Parnaby