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Classic Ashes: The Oval

The Oval, 1953
Another bumper crowd looks on attentively as the 1953 Ashes comes to a finale

By Jamie Lillywhite

One of the classic Ashes moments came at The Oval in August 1953.

England had not won the urn for 19 years and the series was locked at 0-0 after two of the first four matches had days lost to the weather.

For Australia captain Lindsey Hassett, whose Test career began before the war, it was to be his final series, and he had scored centuries in both of the first two Tests.

The England team was one of the all-time classic line-ups; Len Hutton and Bill Edrich opening the innings, a middle order of Peter May, Denis Compton and Tom Graveney, Trevor Bailey as the all-rounder, Godfrey Evans behind the stumps, a spin duo of Tony Lock and Jim Laker, with Fred Trueman and Alec Bedser the fast bowlers.

Hutton and Edrich appeared in 35 Tests together, but remarkably, and to the immense detriment of the England team and its supporters, this was the only time this formidable XI took the field in a Test.

903-7d Eng v Aus, 1938
708 Pkn v Eng, 1987
701 Aus v Eng, 1934

Hassett won the toss and elected to bat, opening the innings and recording his 11th and final Test half century.

Number nine Ray Lindwall top-scored with 62, before he was the last man out, a fourth scalp for Trueman, as Australia were bowled out for 275 shortly before the close, England replying with 1-0.

England moved to within 40 of the Australians for the loss of seven wickets by stumps on day two, Hutton top-scoring with 82.

Bailey was the final wicket to fall for England, and his patient 64, spanning more than four hours at the crease, gave them a first innings lead of 31. Spinners Laker and Lock then destroyed the tourists with nine wickets between them, Australia bowled out for 162.

At the close on day three England had scored 38 of the 132 needed for victory, skipper Hutton the only man out, the fourth and final time he was run-out in his illustrious career, and the only one to involve his trusty partner Edrich.

May struck five fours in his 39 before he was dismissed by Keith Miller with 44 still needed.


Audio highlights from the 1953 Ashes series

Edrich remained to secure his 13th Test fifty, and Compton hit the famous pull shot for the winning runs, signalling a sea of celebration rarely seen on a cricket field before or since.

Though England have since won four Ashes Tests at The Oval, they did those by batting second. This one had been secured the hard way.

The south London ground staged the first Test on English soil in September 1880 and there have been 91 matches since.

Yorkshireman Hutton loved playing here. His 364, which for 20 years was the highest in Test cricket and is still the sixth best, helped to compile the highest team total at the ground - 903-7 declared. Hutton's aggregate of 1,521 runs from 19 innings is by far the highest in Oval Test history.

Ian Botham holds the record for the most number of wickets, picking up 52 in 11 Tests.

Shane Warne is the most successful overseas bowler, taking 32 wickets in his four Tests there, and twice capturing 10 wickets in a match.


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place at Westminster Abbey in June.

The pop music charts were a year old and on the day The Oval Test began Mantovani was at number one with the song from Moulin Rouge, only for Frankie Laine's "I Believe" to return to the top spot for a third time and depose it a day later.

In football, England suffered their first home defeat to a continental team, a run spanning 52 years, when a Ferenc Puskas-inspired Hungary won 6-3 at Wembley.

In the FA Cup final Blackpool beat Bolton 4-3 after coming from 3-1 down with Stan Mortensen scoring a hat-trick although the match became known as the Matthews Final after "wizard of the dribble" Stanley Matthews inspired the win.

Lock and Bedser both took over 100 wickets as Surrey won the Championship.

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see also
England struggle in deciding Test
20 Aug 09 |  England
Ponting piles pressure on England
19 Aug 09 |  Australia
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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