Published: 11th November, 2017
Preparations for the Ashes are hotting up, so we spoke to Surrey CCC Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart, and found out a little bit about his favourite ‘Ashes moments’.
With 33 Ashes Tests to his name he certainly knows a thing or two about taking on the ‘Aussies’.
Favourite Test to play in?
It’s the first Test of the series and England haven’t beaten Australia in a home Ashes for twelve years. The away side had arrived with Mark Taylor as captain and a line-up including the likes of Mark and Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. It was certainly a daunting task that lay ahead for the English side.
“My favourite Test to play in was beating Australia at Edgbaston in the first Test match of the Series in 1997. That was the only time I lead in an Ashes series in my career. We won by 9 wickets, and bowled Australia out for around a hundred runs. Nasser Hussein then went on to get a double century and Graham Thorpe got a hundred. “
England had lost the toss and Australia unsurprisingly elected to bat first. It didn’t take long for Michael Atherton’s side to make a mockery of that decision though, with England’s three seamer’s ripping through their top order. At one stage Australia were 54/8! They were eventually all out for 118 – Shane Warne top scoring with 47 from 46 balls – and Andy Caddick had an Ashes 5for.
England’s reply was ruthless. Nasser Hussein scored 207 and put on 288 with Graham Thorpe (138) to put England in complete control after the first innings. Eventually they declared on 478/9 and took a lead of 360 into the second innings.
With so many stellar names amongst their line-up it would have been wrong to write off Australia at this stage and so it proved as they racked up 477 second innings runs, led by Taylor’s 129. England needed 118 runs to go 1-0 up in the series.
Having claimed three dismissals earlier in the game, Stewart ensured there would be no hairy moments in the run chase as he and Atherton knocked them off for the loss of just one wicket. The Surrey and England keeper was unbeaten on 40 and England led in the Ashes, winning the opener by 9 wickets.
Favourite Test as Captain?
Winning in Australia is no easy feat for a touring English side. Evident in the fact that England have been whitewashed twice in the last 12 years there, despite winning five of the last seven Ashes series. It is therefore no surprise that a Test win on Australian soil features in Stewart’s top Ashes moments.
“Another favourite is 1998 when, as captain, we won in Melbourne. We’d already lost the Ashes by this point, but it was a brilliant Test to be part of and we won by 12 runs.”
Batting first, England had lost Atherton (0) and Surrey team mate Mark Butcher (0) with just 4 runs on the board. Stewart, who was now opening, held the innings together with 107 and in the process scored his maiden Ashes century. England reached 270 but went into the second innings trailing by 70 runs after Steve Waugh had scored an unbeaten century and the game looked to have been slipping away from Stewart’s side.
Fifty in the second innings from the skipper and contributions from Hussein (50) and Graeme Hick (60) ensured England had hope of victory but requiring just 174 everyone fancied Australia to chase them down. Again, England’s seamer’s shone. Dean Headley was the pick of the bowlers , claiming figures of 6/60 and England won the game by 12 runs.