Bradman, Richards’ Heroics Still Outdo Smith’s Ashes Masterclass
Steve Smith’s tally of 774 runs is not even among the top 10 in the list of most runs scored in a series.
England won the fifth Test against Australia on Sunday, 15 September, to level the five-match series 2-2. This was the first time since 1972 that iconic series was drawn, and only the sixth time in the 137-year history of the tournament.
The series might have been shared but there is no doubt that it belonged only to one man – Steven Smith.
Smith, making a comeback after a year-long ban batted his heart out in the series. It looked as if he was compensating for the last one year. As Piers Morgan puts it – ‘the bat is mightier than the sandpaper’ – Steve Smith was out there to prove a point.
In 4 Tests, Smith scored 774 runs in 7 innings at an average of 110.57. This included 3 centuries and 3 half centuries. His highest score in the series was 211, which came in the fourth Test at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Smith’s scorecard in the series read – 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80 and 23.
The former Aussie skipper was ruled out of the third Test due to the neck injury which left him with a concussion in the second Test at Lord's.
In fact, Smith was not part of the final day's play in the second Test due to a delayed concussion after suffering a nasty blow on the back of his neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer in the same test.
But despite scoring the most runs in a series in this century, Smith’s tally of 774 runs is not even among the top 10 in the list of most runs scored in a series.
Here’s a look at the top five batsmen whose heroics with the bat in a single series continue to overshadow Smith’s masterclass:
1. Don Bradman
It was Bradman’s second series but he had already showed signs of greatness with the bat. By the time the series came to an end, the Don had two double centuries and a triple century to his name. He also scored a hundred in the series. It was his heroics with the bat that helped Australia regain the Ashes after six years with 2-1 victory.
2. Wally Hammond
If 1930 Ashes belonged to Bradman and Australia, a year ago it was all about the English side and Wally Hammond. The English batsman was the first one to break the 900-run mark in single series. In fact, till date, Bradman is only other batsmen to score more than 900 runs in a Test series. Hammond scored two double centuries and two centuries.
3. Mark Taylor
Playing only in his second Test series, Mark Taylor set such high standards for himself in the six-match Test series that he failed to replicate such heroics ever again in his career. Taylor is the only opener till date to have a tally of more than 800 in a single series. He had a double century to his name in the series. Australia won the series 4-0.
4. Neil Harvey
The South African started the series with a century in the first Test in Brisbane. Harvey missed a double century by 10 runs in the third Test in Sydney. But he came back to score a 205 in the last Test of the series in Melbourne. The series ended in a 2-2 draw.
5. Vivian Richards
The Master Blaster ripped apart the English bowlers in his maiden tour to England. Richards, who was known for his aggressive batting, began his English summers with a 232 in Nottingham in the first Test. In the final Test of the series, he missed a triple century by 9 runs at The Oval. Till date, Richards is the only batsman to score more than 800 runs in a four-match Test series.
Special Mention: Sunil Gavaskar
Gavaskar is actually 13th on the list but his tally of 774 against West Indies needs a special mention for two reasons. Firstly, it was his debut series and secondly, it came against the solid Windies pace line-up. The West Indies pacers were caught off-guard against a young Gavaskar.
The Mumbai batsman started with two half-centuries in Port of Spain. He followed it up with his maiden century in Georgetown. He scored 117 not out in the third Test in Bridgetown. But he had saved the best for the last. Not only did he score a hundred in the final Test, he went on to score his maiden double hundred in the same Test.
Courtesy Gavaskar’s heroics, India not only won their first Test against the West Indies but registered their first Test series win against them. India won 1-0.
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