Six great Ashes batsmen
Sir Jack Hobbs
41 Tests; 3,636 runs @ 54.26; highest score 187
From his Surrey debut in 1905 to his retirement in 1934, John Berry Hobbs - commonly known as ‘Jack’ - was England's premier batsman and remains one of the all-time greats.
He was a stylish batsman who combined immense ability with a winning mentality. His mastery of all kinds of bowling on any surface was legendary, while his partnership with Herbert Sutcliffe at the top of the England order is the stuff of cricketing legend.
Hobbs played in 10 series against Australia - five at home and five abroad - and made 12 centuries, including innings of 126 not out, 187 and 178 in successive Tests on the 1911-12 tour.
His list of achievements is considerable: he scored more first-class runs - 61,237 - than any other player; he boasts the most first-class centuries, 199; he remains the oldest player to score a Test hundred; and he was first the professional cricketer to be knighted. A legend of the game.
27 Tests, 2,741 runs @ 66.85; highest score 194
Alongside Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe formed one of England’s most prolific double acts, and his individual Ashes record withstands scrutiny with the greatest in the game’s illustrious history.
There was little doubt that Sutcliffe’s name would feature heavily in the Ashes story from the moment he made 59 and 115 in his first match against Australia in Sydney. That was followed by twin centuries in the next Test at the MCG, and another on the same ground in the fourth game of a series Australia nevertheless won 4-1.
Sutcliffe’s powers of concentration were legendary, and his sensational 194 spanning more than seven hours to help set up an England victory in the opening Test of the 1932-33 Bodyline series is largely overlooked amid the furore which followed.
The Yorkshireman may have forged his reputation on a seemingly impregnable defensive technique and efficient method of scoring, but his Wisden obituary notes how he was an “uncompromising hooker of fast bowling”.
33 Tests; 2,852 runs @ 51.85; highest score 251
Many regard Wally Hammond as second only to Bradman in terms of talent - and had he not played in the same era as the great man, history may have held him in even higher esteem.
An athlete and a powerful, technically correct batsman, Hammond played largely in the ‘V’ down the ground, but did not eschew the back-foot attacking shots altogether.
His 905 runs at an average of 113.12 in Australia in 1928-29 were a record for an Englishman, and he was also an important figure in the Bodyline series, although his return of 440 runs at 55 is often forgotten amid the more newsworthy issues.
He was also an effective seamer and excellent fielder, particularly in the slips, and won high praise from Bradman, who said: "Without any shadow of a doubt, Wally would be one of the greatest all-round cricketers who ever played."
Hammond topped the first-class batting averages at the age of 43 in 1946, but his career ended on a low note after a miserable Ashes tour as captain in 1946-47.
Sir Donald Bradman
37 Tests; 5,028 runs @ 89.78; highest score 334
‘The Don’ is widely acknowledged as the greatest cricketer of all time, and his phenomenal Ashes record dwarfs all others. Bradman was quick on his feet, and his hand-eye co-ordination was remarkable, possibly a result of hours hitting a golf ball against a water tank with a stump as a child.
He made an immediate impact on his debut in the 1928-29 Ashes series and dominated cricket until his retirement 20 years later. He scored a record 974 runs in the 1930 series, including scores of 131, 254, 334 and 232, prompting England captain Douglas Jardine to devise his infamous Bodyline tactics to combat him in 1932-33.
Bodyline worked to the extent that England won the series, but Bradman still averaged 56.57. He went on to become captain of Australia and remained the scourge of bowlers around the world.
He needed four runs from his final Test innings at The Oval in 1948 to give him a career average of 100, but he was bowled by Eric Hollies for a second-ball duck to leave him with an average 99.94.
47 Tests; 3,548 runs @ 56.31; highest score 200 not out
The mid-1980s were a bleak time for Australian cricket, but that all began to change with the appointment of Allan Border as captain. It took time for the wheel to turn, but his hard-nosed approach paid dividends as Australia regained the Ashes in 1989 and kept them until 2005. He is unquestionably the forefather of the aggressive and unforgiving tactics employed by the world's greatest side over the last two decades.
He was more than a fine leader, though, and stands behind only Don Bradman in the list of all-time leading run-scorers against the old enemy.
A durable and tenacious left-handed batsman whose effectiveness comfortably outweighed his aesthetic beauty, Border scored eight hundreds at England’s expense. The most memorable of those came in a vain attempt to save the fifth Test at Old Trafford in 1981, when he defied the pain of a broken finger to bat for seven hours in making an unbeaten.
As if to underline his impact on the Ashes, Border marked his last tour of England with a magnificent unbeaten 200 at Headingley. He retired with a then record 11,174 Test runs to his name.
46 Tests; 3,200 runs @ 58.18; highest score 177 not out
The image of Steve Waugh standing in the way of England’s bowlers will seared on the memory of those who grew up watching cricket in the 1990s.
He lost his first Ashes series in 1986-87, but did not taste defeat thereafter as he formed the cornerstone and then leader of an Australia side which developed into one of the finest in history.
Waugh made a duck in his first innings against England. It proved to be the falsest of dawns. He reached three figures 10 times – a tally bettered only by Don Bradman among Australians – and there is no better illustration of his relentlessness and insatiable appetite for runs that half of those centuries were unbeaten.
If you require further convincing of Waugh’s presence among the Ashes greats, consider his twin hundreds at Old Trafford in 1997, the 157 not out he made “on one leg” at the Oval in 2001, or the stupendous century at Sydney – completed off the final ball of the second day – in his final match against England. The list could go on.
Statistics refer to all Tests between England and Australia, including those when the Ashes were not at stake.