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A Forgotten Ashes Classic

Remembering the 1981 Ashes Series, most would remember Headingley test; but the third test in this series was without a doubt a no less dramatic.

Last updated: 02.08.2019
A Forgotten Ashes Classic | Sports Social Blog

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As the most exciting memory of 1981 Ashes series, most of the fans will highlight the memorable Headingley test for England’s comeback victory and Ian Botham’s all-round heroics. However, the next test in Edgbaston in 10 days time was no less dramatic and is considered as a forgotten classic.

England made only one change from the eleven in the third test as the fast bowler Graham Dilley was replaced by the off-spinner John Emburey. Australia went on to make two like to like changes after their shocking loss. Batsman Trevor Chappell and fast bowler Geoff Lawson were replaced by Martin Kent and Rodney Hogg for the fourth test.

On 30th July, Mike Brearley won the toss, elected to bat and top-scored with 48. But none of the other batsmen except Botham could reach 26 and England were bowled for 189 in less than 70 overs. Terry Alderman was the main destroyer as he finished with five for 42.


English bowlers tried their best and none of the Australian batsmen could reach fifty. But despite the four wickets for Emburey and three wickets for Chris Old, Australia took a lead of 69 runs. For them also the captain Kim Hughes top-scored with 47.

England’s second innings was also not much better as they could score only 219 runs. Mike Gatting top-scored with 39 as the Australian left-arm spinner Ray Bright finished with fifer conceding 68 runs.

With only 151 to score for a 2-1 lead in the test series, the Australian did not start well. They lost Graeme Wood with the score on two and ended day three on 9/1.

On 2nd August, 4th day of the test match, Australians soon collapsed to 29/3. Then Allan Border and Graham Yallop started the recovery and the target was so small that once their partnership passed fifty it looked decisive. However, Botham caught Yallop off Emburey with Australia’s score on 87. However, Border was still there and was playing one of the most determined innings despite an illness. But a great delivery from Emburey got rid of Border as he was caught by Gatting for 40. 

By that time, pitch crumbled and looked like Emburey was the main English weapon to take the next five wickets. Brearley brought Botham from other end hoping for him to bowl a tight spell to support Emburey. Botham did deliver a tight spell as he conceded only one run in that spell of five overs but he also did something more. In 28 balls he got the remaining five Australian wickets to bowl them out for just 121 runs. Rodney Marsh and Ray Bright were dismissed on consecutive deliveries and last three wickets fell within just one run and England completed an astonishing victory by 29 runs.

It was a brilliant match which came just after another classic in the Headingley and helped England to take a vital 2-1 lead in of the greatest come from behind series win in the history of the game.

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