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A run-fest that gave highest victory margin in Test

1938 Ashes had Australia winning the series with 1-0, the last Test saw the highest marginal victory of England against Australia by 579 runs. 

Last updated: 23.08.2019
A run-fest that gave highest victory margin in Test | Sports Social Blog

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23rd August 1938, on this day England finally declared after building a mountain of runs in the Oval.

In 1938, the Oval Test started with Australia 1-0 up in the series and retained the series. However, England wanted to get a victory and as the trend in those days, this last Test of the series was a timeless Test which means it would continue till a team wins.

The groundsman at The Oval, Austin "Bosser" Martin delivered quite a batting-friendly pitch and luckily for England, Wally Hammond won the toss and decided to bat first. As expected the pitch played true to its nature and England piled up 347/1 on day one with young opener Len Hutton unbeaten on 160 and Maurice Leyland unbeaten on 156. After a rest day, Australians were slightly more successful on day two as England were on 634/5 at the end of the day’s play and Hutton batting on 300.


On 23rd August, Hutton and Joe Hardstaff resumed their innings. Hutton went on a record-breaking spree as he first broke Don Bradman’s Ashes record of 334 and then Hammond’s Test record of 336. Then he passed the then highest first-class score at the Oval, 357 and finally got dismissed for 364. Hardstaff also scored a century and remained not out on 169. Among all these Australia also lost Don Bradman while bowling as he twisted his ankle. Jack Fingleton was also out as his leg muscle was torn while fielding. The declaration from Hammond finally came with 903/7 on board, the then world record score although the groundsman Martin was disappointed as they did not go for a 1000 runs. There were some terrible bowling analysis for Australia including Chuck Fleetwood-Smith’s 87-11-298-1 and Billy O’Reilly’s 85-26-178-3. But both bowled well in that most lifeless pitch.

Without two key batsmen, Australia did not have much fight in them. Against England’s innings of 335.2 overs, their first innings lasted for just 52.1 overs as they were all out for 201. Only the opener Bill Brown scored a fifty and was the last man to get dismissed. England’s lead of 702 runs was obviously one of the largest in first-class history. Following on, Australia were bowled out even quicker in the second innings. They were all out for 123 runs in 34.1 overs handing England a series-leveling win by the massive margin of an innings and 579 runs. This still remained the highest victory margin in a Test match. 

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