Almanac Teams – The (ultimate) Ultimate WACA Ashes performers

Two tests down and England is on the canvas, covered in what appears to be beer. Here we are at the WACA for the last time in a men’s Ashes test. Given its comparatively svelte history of test cricket we have fewer games from which to pick performances – 13 to be precise, starting in 1970. So as we pick out the finest Ashes performances from both nations, this time let’s take a slightly different descriptive approach, chronological. But first off, let’s see who makes the teams.



The first Perth Ashes test took place in December 1970 as Bill Lawry’s Australians took on Ray Illingworth’s Englishmen. English opener Brian Luckhurst earns an opening spot in the English team by getting the visitors off to a great start with a first innings 131. This highlighted a glacial 171 run opening partnership with Geoff Boycott and built the platform for England’s score of 397.

In response, Australia was in all sorts of trouble when Ian Redpath came in at 3-17. After putting on 88 with Ian Chappell, Redpath managed another 219 with the Chappell of the Greg variety (on debut) and was dismissed on 171 with Australia only trailing by four runs (eventually making 440). By this stage of proceedings, we were well into Day 4 and the game predictably ground to a draw. But not before John Edrich could come in at three for England and score an unbeaten 115 in their second innings; still the only century by an English number three at the WACA. Good luck, Mr Vince.



After sitting out of the ultimate Adelaide Oval Ashes test team, Dougie Walters returns, this time to bat six at the WACA with 103. After bowling England out for a meagre 208, Walters came in at 4-192, Australia in a strong but assailable position. Walters attacked England viciously with Ross Edwards (115), scoring his century in just over a session and helping Australia build a 273 run first innings lead.

Jeff Thomson tore through England’s second innings and Australia banked a nine wicket victory on its way to a 4-1 series victory under Ian Chappell.



Then to 1978, with Rodney Hogg’s 10-122 against Mike Brearley’s Englishmen. Australia, deprived of its World Series Cricket stars, struggled in this series and the Perth test was no exception. Despite Hogg’s hauls of 5-65 and 5-57, 328 (built off David Gower’s first innings 102) was far too much for a weak Australian batting line-up to chase. They were Levered out for just 161, only Graeme Wood and Gary Cosier putting up a fight, as England took a 2-0 series lead. Bob Willis, with match figures of 6-80, takes the last English bowling spot.



The Englishmen were back before you knew, but this time against a full-strength Aussie side, it and it’s not before time that Allan Border gets a game in this series – it’s thanks to a fighting 115 from 296 balls. In a low scoring match, best known for Dennis Lillee’s brief dalliance with an aluminium bat, Australia took a slender 16 run lead into the second dig. Border came in at 1-91 and anchored the innings as six partners came and went, mostly to Ian Botham.

Botham took 6-78 in Australia’s first innings and five wickets in their second for match figures of 11-176; the most wicketty performance by an English bowler at the WACA. In the end, the 354 run lead Australia amassed was more than sufficient as Queenslander Geoff Dymock booked 6-34 to end the game late on Day 5. This gave the 34-year-old left arm quick match figures of 9-86 in his last summer of international cricket and Australia a 138 run win and the lead in a series they ended up winning 3-0.



England next visited Australia’s shores for test cricket in 1982. Number 4, Greg Chappell, books a place in our side with a first innings 117. Chasing England’s 411, Chappell’s most productive batting came with Kim Hughes as they put on 141 for the fourth wicket. Captain Underarm eventually declared the innings with a 13 run lead. By then the game was well into its fourth day and not surprisingly fizzled towards a draw.

Sadly, the game’s fireworks came more from the pitch invasion that led to Terry Alderman’s shoulder dislocation rather than the cricket itself.



Now to the 1986 Ashes test, the second test of the series following a seven wicket England win in Brisbane. Opening the batting in the first innings Chris Broad gave the Australian bowlers no relief, scoring 162 including an opening partnership of 223 with Bill Athey. Eventually Bruce Reid pried them both out but the damage continued as David Gower, batting at five, scored 136. This was mainly gathered in a 207 run partnership with the keeper of Penzance, Jack Richards (133), in very quick time as England piled on a gargantuan 8-592 in a tad under two days.

An Allan Border inspired response of 401 was enough for Australia to scrape past the follow-on halfway through Day 4 and push the game towards its eventual draw.



The first bowler picked in Australia’s team has to be Craig McDermott with match figures of 11-157 in the 1991 Ashes test. Billy the Kid shot through a decent England batting line-up in the first innings, taking 8-97. Tag teaming with Merv Hughes and Terry Alderman in England’s second dig, they bundled the visitors out for 182 in their second innings. Marsh and Boon then saw Australia through to a nine wicket win to finish off the series 3-0.



The first Australian opener’s position goes to Michael Slater thanks to his 124 run first innings effort in the 1995 WACA Ashes test. At a ground that has not been that friendly to Australian openers in the Ashes, Slater put Australia thoroughly on the front foot on an old fashioned WACA quick track. A 183 run third wicket partnership with Mark Waugh saw Australia into a strong position on 402.

Coming in at 2-5 in England’s first innings, Graham Thorpe put together a strong 123 including a 158 run partnership with Mark Ramprakash in England’s 295. Things only got worse for England, however, as Australia turned a 107 run first innings advantage to a 453 run target and Craig McDermott took six final innings wickets to give Australia a 329 run win and the series 3-1.



No players qualified in the 1998 Perth Ashes test, which saw Australia grab a seven wicket win and a 1-0 series lead in a low scoring affair. Man of the Match Damien Fleming just missed out on ultimate Australian team selection with match figures of 9-91, while Alex Tudor (5-108) was closest for the visitors.



Again no qualifiers four years later in another comfortable Australian win (an innings and 48 runs). McGrath, Lee and Gillespie shared the spoils in England’s and 185 and 223. In the middle of that, remarkably, no Australian batsman scored more than Damien Martyn’s 71 in Australia’s total of 456. With the exception of Glenn McGrath every batsman in the innings scored between 19 and 71.



2-0 down and reeling after losing the Amazing Adelaide test, England kept Australia’s first innings in Perth to a modest 244, thanks to surprise packet Monty Panesar’s 5-92 (ending with match figures of 8-237). However, the Australian fast bowling cartel restricted England to just 215 and so set the stage for an extraordinary WACA wicketkeeper’s innings; Adam Gilchrist’s unbeaten 102 in just 59 balls.

Approaching the wicket in Australia’s second innings almost 400 runs ahead and looking to reclaim the Ashes in Perth, Gilchrist was looking for some quick runs. That’s exactly what he got as he took his first 50 off 40 balls and his next 50 off just 17 to narrowly miss Viv Richards’ record for the fastest test century. Gilchrist and Clarke had put on 162 for the sixth wicket in just 20 overs when Ponting called the boys in with no doubt who was dominating this series.



In a rare bright point of the 2010 Ashes series for Australia, Mitch Johnson took 9-82 in their only win in the series. Coming in at 6-137 in Australia’s first innings, Johnson’s innings top score of 62 helped Australia scramble 268. He then ripped England into dainty little bits, taking 6-38 as the second change bowler in the innings, England going from 0-78 and 6-181 to all out for 187.

Chris Tremlett, taking 5-87 in Australia’s second innings, to give him match figures of 8-150, helped restrict Australia to 309 and a lead of 391. But Johnson then took another 3-44 in England’s second innings 123 as they fell 267 runs short with almost two days to spare.



We turn to the outside of the commentary box for Slater’s opening partner as Davey Warner put together a comparatively sedate 112 in Australia’s second innings in 2013. Leading on the first innings by 134, having scored 60 in the first dig, Warner put on a 157 opening partnership with Chris Rogers in the second innings to effectively bat England out of the match. A Shane Watson century further rubbed salt in.

However, chasing 504 England put up a fight (despite Cook falling first ball to a Ryan Harris fast bowling masterpiece), particularly a combative 120 from number six Ben Stokes. But when he fell to Nathan Lyon this signalled the end of the English resistance as Johnson and Lyon cleaned up England’s second innings and reclaimed the Ashes.


So, there you have it – 22 players selected by their performances at the 13 WACA Ashes test. Australia’s line-up compiles 844 runs and takes 39-447, while England manages 920 and 33-643. Australia with a hefty bowling advantage but England have Ben Stokes to bring into bowling considerations as well so maybe, just maybe, they can break their seven game losing streak the last time around.

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Kudos once more Dave, but Wally Edwards was a bit stiff.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Dave Doug Walters six off the last ball of the day to bring up his hundred and ton in a session definitely my favorite ashes memory in Perth

  3. Thanks Dave. I know it’s a common observation, but Gilly’s 2006 innings was a I remember where I was moment. And it was in the outside bar of the newly-renovated Highway Inn. Even the English players were aware that something special was happening, and they grinned with awe and disbelief. Rather than the sight of the ball sailing into the outer, for me, it was the gunshot of bat on ball that I recollect. It was such a clean, percussive sound.

    As a kid I remember that the WACA telecast came from a building across the road and as I think it was a newspaper office the commentary was underscored with the clacking of typewriters. Initially annoying, but became part of the aural fabric.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great work Dave.
    Was a big Graham Thorpe fan, great to see him make the English team.
    Damien Fleming was magnificent in the ’98 Ashes Test in Perth, still wonder at the destruction he could have caused given the chance to play in an Ashes Test in England. Another Victorian robbed.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice Dave,
    Steve Waugh’s 5 for in the second innings of 1986-7 is notable as he got carted in the first dig. No Chris Matthews?

  6. Thanks for the read and the comments, folks. Yep, Swish, Edwards unlucky – just fell 83 runs short. Perhaps not surprisingly Australian openers do not have a great record at the WACA in the Ashes. Edwards’ 30 in 1974 is the 20th highest score (out of 50) by an Australian opener at a WACA Ashes test.

    That innings predates me by a couple of years, Rulebook, but having read about it, it sounds like great watching.

    I think there’s a story put around by Gilly, Mickey, that he misunderstood a signal from Ponting and thought he had to hurry up, hence the speed of the second 50. Gilchrist is the last player I would purposefully sit down to watch bat.

    Yep, Fleming’s record at the WACA is extremely good, Luke. He was, after all, born in Perth. In two tests he took 14 wickets at 16. 9-91 would see him as second picked bowler for the English.

    Yeah, good point, Phil. 0-90 in the first innings. 5-69 in the second a strong response, particularly given he wasn’t what you’d necessarily think of as a WACA bowler.

  7. Any prospect of the late John Gleeson getting to carry the drinks?

    He picked up the first test wicket @ the WACA. Geoff Boycott, caught in the deep by local , “Garth” Mckenzie, for 70, closing the opening stand with Brian Luckhurst @ 171.


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