Almanac Teams: The ultimate Adelaide Oval Ashes performers

Once the international cricket season starts it comes at your fast and hard, like a particularly sprightly diamond. No sooner have we left the Gabba than we arrive in the city of frequently getting called the city of churches for the second test. So, let’s repeat our exercise and line up two teams made up of the most extraordinary performances at Adelaide Oval.





The first Australian opener’s position goes to Bobby Simpson thanks to his 225 run first innings effort in the 1966 Adelaide Oval Ashes test. Trailing the series 0-1 after copping a pasting in Sydney, Simpson compiled a quintessential captain’s knock. He guided Australia to 516 and a 275 run first innings lead after Graham McKenzie had made a mess of England’s batting. Neil Hawke did the damage in the second innings as Australia won the match by an innings and nine runs, leading Australia to retain the Ashes.

Then it’s back to 1951 for Simpson’s opening partner as Arthur Morris put together a composed 206 under Lindsay Hassett’s captaincy and was the last batsman dismissed in Australia’s first innings of 371. With the Ashes already in the bag and in a six-day test, Australia was able to slowly grind England down to win by 274 runs.

Even further back, to 1937 for Australia’s Number 3. It had to happen sooner or later, of course, it’s Don Bradman with 212 in Australia’s second innings. Another captain’s knock, after conceding a 42 run first innings deficit, Bradman got to business, batting with five partners as Australia built and subsequently defended a 391 run lead, Fleetwood-Smith gathering six last innings wickets.

Finally, more recent times for our Number 4, and another captain doing his thing – none other than Michael Clarke with a first innings 148 in 2013. In a test best remembered for Mitch Johnson’s demolition of England in one of the most fearsome spells of bowling seen in Ashes cricket, he was able to do so on the back of Australia’s first innings of 570. Clarke and Haddin’s 200 run sixth wicket stand and Harris and Lyon’s hilarious and unbeaten 46 run last wicket partnership pretty much the difference between the teams in the end.

He’s back and this time he’s batting at five. Keith Miller is our first repeat customer (and first to qualify as a batter and bowler at different venues, naturally) courtesy of an unbeaten buckling of the swash 141 in 1947. Coming in at 3-207, Miller partnered seven teammates to drag Australia’s score up to 487 which saw Australia through to a draw and retention of the Ashes.

Mark Waugh’s sublime 1991 innings of 138 on debut saves us the embarrassment of Michael Clarke qualifying for two positions in this team. Australia, having already retained the Ashes, still played for a victory here, falling five wickets short on a characteristically placid Adelaide Oval pitch. But when Waugh came in at 4-104 in the first innings, things could easily have gone another way. His 171 run partnership with Greg Matthews ensuring collars would be up in school playgrounds for the foreseeable future.

Brad Haddin takes the keeper spot for a second straight test following his 118 in 2013, the only Ashes century by an Australian keeper at Adelaide Oval. This knock came as part of the abovementioned partnership with Michael Clarke.


Speaking of references already made, our first bowler picked is left arm wrist spinner, and excellent name holder, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith who put together match figures of 10-239 in the 1937 test otherwise notable for Bradman’s double century. The gift from Stawell bowled Australia to victory on Day 6, taking four final day wickets in his 6 fa.

It was a done thing in years gone past to pick two spinners in Adelaide. And with the luxury of a quick bowler batting at five we can certainly afford that here. Welcome to leg spinner Arthur Mailey and his match figures of 10-302 in the 1921 test. In a timeless test, Mailey was able to grind away, taking two Michelles (not clear if they were called that back then) including the last three wickets of the match to hand Australia a comfortable 119 run victory and clinched the Ashes.

Look who is back again, it’s Geoff Lawson in the 1982 series. His match return of 9-122 including 5-66 in England’s following-on second innings powered Australia to an eight wicket win and a 2-0 series lead. He can partner Keith Miller opening the bowling once more.

Apologies to the spinners that have done more substantial work at Adelaide Oval over the years (Richie Benaud, Trumble, Trott) but we need another quick and Mitch Johnson circa 2013 is our man with 8-113. In the semi-cauldron of a reconstructing Adelaide Oval, Johnson dominated a shell-shocked English batting line-up in one fearsome spell, taking 7-40 as England stumbled to a first innings 172, going from 3-111 to 9-135 in just nine overs. Johnson satisfied himself with just captain Cook’s wicket (the frequently mentioned half-hearted hook that apparently demonstrated resignation in the face of very good bowling) in the second innings as Harris and Siddle mopped up the Day 5 English tail, Australia winning by 218 runs




Facing up first for England is 1912 warhorse Jack Hobbs with a more than solid 187 against Clem Hill’s strugglers. After Frank Foster skittled Australia for 133 in its first innings, Hobbs built a 147 opening partnership with Wilf Rhodes on the way to a commanding 368 run first innings lead and a seven wicket win. The result gave England a 2-1 series lead which they went on to win 4-1.

Walking out with Hobbs is a 2002 vintage Michael Vaughan, his first innings 177 an almost lone hand in England’s first innings total of 342. At 3-295 England would have considered itself in a pretty decent position but Vaughan’s dismissal to Bichel triggered a collapse of 7-47 as Gillespie and Warne filled their boots. Ricky Ponting’s 154 in Australia’s first innings 552 the difference between the teams.

Coming in at three, in one of test cricket’s great performances is Wally Hammond with a second innings 177 to accompany his first innings 119 not out. Hammond scored 42% of England’s runs across two innings in a thrilling 12 run victory. With Australia chasing 349 in a timeless test at 3-211 and 6-308 (and a young Bradman at the crease) victory looked in sight for the Australians. But Bradman’s run out on 58 with the score on 320 saw England claim a tense win, having already wrapped up the Ashes.

Gee, this is a diverse English batting line-up. Next up is Kevin Pietersen with a majestic 227 in 2010. With Jimmy Anderson taking 4-51 in Australia’s first innings, restricting them to just 245, Pietersen rammed home England’s advantage, putting on 175 runs with Alastair Cook, 101 with Paul Collingwood, and 116 with Ian Bell. Winning by an innings and 71 runs after the draw at Brisbane, this gave England a close to ideal start in the 2010/11 series.

Kevin Pietersen likes Adelaide, a lot! So much so that he also holds the highest score for English Number 5s at Adelaide Oval with 158 in the 2006 Amazing Adelaide test. Rather than clone him, however, we’ll take the next cab off the rank, which in this case happens to be Denis Compton with 147 in the 1947 test which saw Keith Miller qualify as well. Compton’s innings put England in a strong position with 460 on the board but in the end Flat Adelaide ensured a draw.

Even further back we go for England’s Number 6, to 1921 and Jack Russell’s unbeaten 135 in a typical Adelaide Oval run-fest that saw the hosts win by 119 runs. Set an unlikely 490 for victory, England never quite looked like getting there. Following up his first innings 135 with 59 in the second when Russell was bowled by Arthur Mailey with the score on 292, the writing was on the wall for the Englishmen.

The first repeat Englishman for this series is keeper Alan Knott with an unbeaten 106 in the 1974/75 series. After Lillee, Thomson and Mallett had demolished the English first innings for 172, Knott put together a tremendous rear-guard innings, chasing the unlikely target of 405 (strangely the highest Australian score in the match was Terry Jenner’s 74). Coming in at 5-76, Knott built healthy partnerships with Keith Fletcher and Fred Titmuss but in the end ran out of partners as England fell 163 runs short.


Gubby Allen is a repeat appearer in England’s bowling line-up with his return of 8-121 in the 1933 Bodyline test. ‘And staid Adelaide nearly boiled over as rage ruled over sense’ Paul Kelly tells us in his song Bradman. ‘When Oldfield hit the ground they nearly jumped the fence’. It may have been Larwood who hit Oldfield, but it was Allen who cleaned up in the Adelaide leg of the Bodyline series. He also added a few runs to see England through to a 338 run victory, oddly dismissed lbw by Clarrie Grimmett for 15 in both innings. Not the last Englishman to be bamboozled by Australian legspin, that’s for sure.

Jack White, stripes or otherwise, is the first selected English bowler for Adelaide with 13-256 in the 1929 test. A left-handed finger spinner, White was the other half of the English effort, along with Hammond that helped them secure a 12 run victory in this test. White bowled 60 overs in Australia’s first innings for a five wicket return; in an innings of 160 overs there were effectively only 20 overs bowled where someone else bowled instead of him. Not to be outdone he then bowled 65 of 152 overs in Australia’s second dig for eight wickets, including the last two Australian scalps to grab victory. Quite an effort.

Given the success of English leftie finger spinners in Adelaide, we’ll pick a second and give Johnny ‘Boy’ Briggs a go. Right back to 1892 for this one where Briggs took 12-136 in an innings and 230 run spiflication of a dead-rubbered Australian line-up (Australia led the three test series 2-0). England’s first innings of 499, featuring 134 from Andrew Stoddart gave Briggs all the ammunition he needed as he opened the bowling and stayed on unchanged, taking 6-49 in Australia’s 100. After the follow-on was enforced, he at least was given a six over break in the second innings, taking 6-87.

This England team needs some more quick bowling (apologies to Derek Underwood and Bobby Peel) and surprisingly that comes in the form of 2006 era Matthew Hoggard. Sorry to bring up Amazing Adelaide again English readers but after Gubby Allen, Hoggard’s 8-138 are the best match figures from an English fast bowler at Adelaide Oval. With Flintoff, Anderson and Harmison having little impact, Hoggard did most of the hard work in Australia’s first innings 513, taking 7-109 in 42 overs. He then took Langer early in Australia’s second innings to give England hope, but it was not to be as Mike Hussey fist-pumped his way to the 168 run target.


So, there you have it. Australia’s batsmen pulling in 1188 runs and bowlers taking 37-776 against England’s offering of 1156 runs and 41-651. Perhaps the visitors’ left hand finger spinners giving them a surprise advantage. Possibly not with a pink ball, though, and Keith Miller is a vastly superior all-rounder to Wally Hammond. Enjoy the day-night fun, I certainly intend to!

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Shane John Backx says

    I really wish writers and everyone else for that matter, would stop referring to batsmen as “batters”.

  2. Why does it matter, Shane? I’m interested.

  3. Shane John Backx says

    Because in cricket the term is batsman. In baseball it is batter. Americanisms have no place in cricket the lexicon

  4. Shane John Backx says

    Make that THE cricket lexicon

  5. Dave- great work. I sat in the old Bradman Stand and enjoyed Mark Waugh’s debut ton under a blazing sun back in 1991. It was an elegant as you’d imagine.

    To paraphrase Chevy Chase in Fletch, “There’s two names I enjoy: Chuck, and Fleetwood-Smith.”

    Don’t be overly apologetic about the 2006 Test, given its magnificence!

    Looking over the parklands as I type, there’s blue sky and thinning clouds- good stuff.

  6. Yep, hopefully we’ll get more cricket than not tomorrow, Mickey. Pity about this evening though, will just have to have a consolatory beer in the clubrooms instead.

    Shane, the term ‘batter’ has been used in cricket since before the recognised first game of organised baseball (1846) was even played and has been used ever since. Here is an excerpt from The Australian on 13 March 1838: “Caldecourt had been previously showing the bystanders that the invention was capable of putting in the ball a little or a great deal to the ‘off,’ or to the ‘leg,’ giving a home toss or a grubber, and, in fine, one that must take the wicket, should the batter not adopt the only method of preventing all straight balls from displacing his stumps – viz., that of playing either ‘forward’ or ‘back’ with an ‘upright bat.'” In my opinion we need a non gender specific term for a person who bats and batter is the most logical choice – nothing to do with baseball. All lexicons change, particularly in the English language.

  7. Love how you have gone back in time to honour some of the pre 70’s greats. I saw the Bobby Simpson innings in one of my first Adelaide tests and the Mark Waugh innings was my last (to date).
    Great teams and names but the keeper selections look odd to me. Seems to rate them on their batting rather than keeping performance. Surely Grout or Tallon were far better behind the stumps than Haddin. Knott and Russell were both superb keepers, but I reckon Russell’s Adelaide knock was a one off. Knott by the length of the straight overall, but Bob Taylor also kept in Adelaide and was a superb gloveman.
    I always loved the Arthur Bailey riposte when someone commented on a batsman who made a big score against him “yeah but he was dropped 3 times – by the bloke in the brown trilby hat in the third row of the Stand”. They’d need an interpreter if there was real Australian irony and dry humour on Ch9 descriptions these days!

  8. Shane John Backx says

    Please refer to my first comment. Never was it ever used during my lifetime ( born 1958) until the recent Americanisation of Australia and our language. We shall have to agree to disagree on that!!

  9. Indeed, Shane, we shall.

    Yeah, the ‘keeper one is tricky with this numbers based analysis, PB. Just made the decision to include the largest score by someone playing as designated ‘keeper. Not having seen anyone before Rod Marsh keep, it’s difficult to assess their quality with the big gloves. That Simpson innings would have been a cracker to see in the flesh. In terms of the best innings I have seen at Adelaide Oval, Brian Lara’s 182 in 2000, Dean Jones’ double century (admittedly on a road) in 1989 and Merv Hughes’ 72* against the West Indies in 1989 stand out. That was the one of the bravest innings by a batter :) I have ever seen.

  10. Batsperson.

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great stuff Dave. Watched all of Mark Waugh’s innings in 1991. Still one of my favourite knocks for the effortlessly brilliant timing and stroke play.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Any team that has AA Mailey and LO Fleetwood-Smith in it is a great team. Wonderful chracters.

    Left-arm finger spinners is an area England have been much more succesful in than us. Bert Ironmonger a rare great Aussie left arm orthodox, Allan Border and Boof Lehmann more successful than most specialist slow left armers tried by Australia in recent times. But Bangladesh now lead this field, usually seems half their team are left arm tweakers!

  13. Warney will be pleased Paul Collingwood’s big double in 2006 didn’t get a guernsey in the England top 6!

  14. Fantastic as always,Dave and Mark Waugh’s innings was that good that day we actually left the magic cave aka the old members bar and couldn’t give a rats toss bag re batsman or batters

  15. Peter Warrington says

    I remember being at the beach post-HSC in 82-3, listening to Henry turn a pancake pitch into a minefield. and hearing Hughes get runout with dismay. he was in rare form that summer. another 200 chucked away

    interestingly, Henry was nightwatchman in both digs that match, he always fancied himself with the bat.

    i would go with Bob Taykor’s epic 97 in 78-9, it cost us the series. despite being robbed blind in randall’s epic the test before, we had england 6-130 until taylor batted for a day. our 2-115 became 8-130 as was the norm that year :(

  16. Peter Warrington says

    Chuck didn’t chuck

    Leslie O’Brien Fleetwood-Smith

    More Errol Flynn than Stevie Nicks

    A glimmer of left arm unorthodox

    As depression gripped the docks

    Centre-part and pencil mo

    Formed a pair with Billy O’

    He did take one for two-nine-eight

    But Hammond’s scalp was on his plate

  17. A Knott batting in the 1974-75 match was a worthy knock.

    We’d started badly. Day one was washed out, and on a rain affected wicket on the second day D Underwood knocked over the top order until KD Walters and RW Marsh, followed by the tail, got a few runs on the board.

    From that point on we were well on top. On the rest day,remember those, Thommo did his shoulder, ruling him out of the rest of the series. To put more emphasis on A Knott’s second innings ton, three of his colleagues scored pairs: D Amiss, G Arnold and D Underwood.


  18. Peter Warrington says

    yes i was in hospital after an appendix snip, i really liked TJ and his tonking in that dig was supreme.

  19. It was his highest test score. He only got the one wicket in the match. Fred Titmus in the second innings. He padded up to three consecutive deliveries and the umpire, it was either To Brooks or Robin Baillache, tired of it, sending him on his way.

    TJ only played one more test , that being the following summer V the ‘Windies’ @ the Gabba.


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