Adelaide Oval was one of the first few grounds in the world to host Test cricket, 130 years back, when it hosted a Test on the first time on December 12, 1884.
In all, 72 Test matches have been hosted at the venue, Australia winning 36 and losing only 17, making it their third-most productive home venue (in terms of win-loss ratio) after the Gabba in Brisbane and WACA in Perth.
Here, we look at the top five batting, bowling and all-round performances in match contexts at Adelaide Oval.
NOTE: All Impact numbers mentioned are in a match context, but in a career context, all these numbers are capped to 5.
1. Clem Hill: 5 & 160 v England, 1908. Batting Impact: 11.09
Coming in to bat at No. 7 position in the first innings, Hill contributed only five runs to Australia’s first-innings total of 285. England, in reply, scored 363. Hill, who was unable to field because he was suffering from influenza, then came into bat at No. 9 in the second innings when Australia were leading by only 102 runs. Under immense pressure, Hill and Roger Hartigan strung together a partnership of 243 runs for the eighth wicket — a record for that wicket for Australia in Tests till date. Hill was the ninth Australian wicket to fall with the total of 501, but, by that time, the game was well and truly out of England’s hands. Chasing 429, England collapsed for 183 in their second innings to hand Australia a 2-1 lead in the series.
2. Roger Hartigan: 48 & 116 v England, 1908. Batting Impact: 10.93
In that same match, Hartigan produced high-impact performances with the bat in both innings but what was even more astounding was the fact that this was his debut Test. Coming in to bat at 191 for 6 under some pressure in Australia’s first innings, Hartigan scored 48 with the support of the tailenders to push the Australian total to 285. In the Australian second innings, the top- and middle-order failed again and when Hartigan walked into bat at 179 for 6 (which soon became 180 for 7), Australia were leading only by 101 runs. In a high-pressure situation, Clem Hill guided Hartigan and the rest is history. Hartigan’s batting in the match also happens to be the second-highest pressure impact performance by any Australian batsman in their Test history.
3. Wally Hammond: 119 not out and 177 v Australia, 1929. Batting Impact: 9.77
England, after opting to bat, were given a 143-run opening stand by Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe before suffering a mini collapse to lose three wickets in the space of six runs. Hammond, who came in to bat after the fall of the first wicket, stood firm from one end but failed to find enough partners to support him and even though he scored an unbeaten 119 in the first innings, England couldn’t quite capitalise on their strong start and finished with 334. Australia, in reply, scored 369 to take a 35-run lead. England’s second innings, though, didn’t start like their first one and both the openers were back in the hut with the total at 21. Under high pressure, Hammond and Douglas Jardine (98) held their ground and took due advantage of the timelessness of the Test by playing 981 balls between them. Their partnership of 262 was, at that time, the world record for the third wicket, and even though England were well placed at 283 for 3 after the fall of Jardine’s wicket, they were all out for 383. Chasing 349, Australia were on the hunt throughout and eventually fell short by only 12 runs. Hammond scores high on the impact charts because of his high pressure and partnership-building impact in the match, and also because of the fact that many other English batsmen failed.
4. Don Bradman: 26 & 212 v England, 1937. Batting Impact: 8.87
Don Bradman scored 26 in Australia’s first-innings score of 288 – a total thought to be well below par given the good nature of the pitch and also because of the kind of start England got (they were 108 for 1 at one point). England couldn’t quite capitalise though and ended up scoring 330 to achieve a lead of 42. Australia, in their second innings, lost Jack Fingleton before they could wipe out the deficit when in walked Bradman. Bradman decimated the English bowling and scored 212 runs, his domination evident from the fact that the next best Australian batsman in the innings, Stan McCabe, scored only 55. After Bradman’s dismissal, Australia lost the last four wickets for only 11 runs and set England a target of 392. But England were all out for 243 and from 0-2 down, Australia had managed to level the series 2-2. Australia eventually went on to win the series 3-2.
5. Bob Simpson: 225 v England, 1966. Batting Impact: 8.23
Trailing 1-0 going into the fourth Test of the Ashes, Australia needed a strong reply and they got it from Bob Simpson. The damage initially was done by Graham McKenzie’s 6 for 48, which helped restrict England to 241 in their first innings. Australia, in reply, were powered by Bob Simpson and Bill Lawry’s opening partnership of 244 runs, the second-highest opening stand for Australia at that point. Simpson was the seventh Australian batsman to be dismissed with the score at 480 as Australia eventually ended with 516 in their first innings. Simpson’s innings had a very high impact, as it made sure that Australia needed to bat only once to defeat England. This was also a series-defining performance as the series eventually ended 1-1.
Note: Rahul Dravid’s 233 and 72 not out in 2003 slots in at No. 10.
1. Derek Underwood: 7/113 & 4/102 v Australia, 1975. Bowling Impact: 8.19
Even though Australia eventually thrashed England in this encounter, the only time England had some initiative in the match was when Derek Underwood was running amok. In Australia’s first innings, Underwood took the wickets of their top seven batsmen. From 52 for no loss, Australia were reduced to 58 for 3. Then, later, from 77 for 3 to 84 for 5, all wickets taken by Underwood, and it was the only time in the match that Australia were under pressure (pressure-building impact). Australia eventually managed 304, England in reply scored only 172. Australia in their second innings tried to build on the lead and declared with their total at 272 for 5, of which Underwood took four. Australia went on to win the match by 163 runs. What is astounding about Underwood’s performance, apart from the fact that he was the lone ranger in both the innings, was that all 11 of his wickets in the match were of top- or middle-order batsmen.
2. Geoff Lawson: 8/112 & 3/69 v West Indies, 1984. Bowling Impact: 6.98
This match marked the centenary of Test cricket at Adelaide Oval but it was the home side that was beaten comprehensively by the mighty West Indians. West Indies, after opting to bat, were given an early jolt by Rodney Hogg and Lawson as they took a wicket apiece. The visitors, though, recovered soon and were not bothered till Lawson came back to bowl and reduced West Indies from 157 for 2 to 172 for 5, taking the wickets of Larry Gomes, Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge in one spell. They recovered again via Jeff Dujon and Clive Lloyd before Lawson came back to break the partnership (partnership-breaking impact) and triggered another mini collapse to take West Indies from 322 for 6 to 356 all out. Australia, in reply, managed only 284. West Indies in their second innings were jolted early again by Lawson as he took the wicket of Greenidge with the total on 4, and even though they were 45 for 3 at one point, they eventually gave Australia a target of 365, which they fell short of by 191 runs. Out of the 11 wickets that Lawson took in the match, nine were of top- and middle-order batsmen and he also had a high partnership-breaking impact.
3. Curtly Ambrose: 6/74 & 4/46 v Australia, 1993. Bowling Impact: 6.84
West Indies after batting first posted a total of 252 runs, Australia in reply were 108/3 when Ambrose took the wickets of Allan Border, Ian Healy and Steve Waugh within a space of four runs to put Australia under pressure (Pressure-Building Impact). Ambrose went on to take six wickets in the innings, four of which were of top/middle-order batsmen. West Indies in their second innings were bowled out for 146 leaving Australia to chase only 186. Australia were 64/3 when Ambrose took out Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Merv Hughes to leave Australia reeling at 74/7. Ambrose didn’t take any more wickets in the match but West Indies hung on to win the match by a margin of 1 run and levelled the series 1-1. Even though it was a high impact performance, Ambrose wasn’t the highest impact player of the match, more on that performance later.
4. Johnny Briggs: 6/49 & 6/87 v Australia, 1892. Bowling Impact: 6.84
With the series already in Australia’s bag going into the third Test match of the Ashes, England scored 499 after opting to bat. Australia were then hit hard by Johnny Briggs and George Lohmann (3 for 46). Briggs, a slow left-arm orthodox bowler, took six wickets out of which four were of top- and middle-order batsmen and had a very high pressure-building impact (taking wickets in quick succession to build pressure). Australia were bowled out for 100 and were asked to follow-on. In Australia’s second essay, Briggs picked up six wickets, four of which were again of top- and middle-order batsmen and just like in the first innings, had a very high pressure-building impact. England went on to win the match by an innings and 230 runs.
5. Jack White: 5/130 & 8/126 v Australia, 1929. Bowling Impact: 6.65
England, after opting to bat in the fourth Test and having already sealed the series 3-0, posted 334 largely due to Hammond’s unbeaten 119. Australia’s reply, though, was hampered at the beginning by Maurice Tate and Jack White. White, a slow left-arm orthodox bowler, scalped three of the top five Australian batsmen, including Archie Jackson (164) to restrict Australia to a 35-run lead. White also had a partnership-breaking impact when he took the wicket of Jack Ryder, breaking a partnership of 126 runs between Ryder and Jackson. England’s second essay had them scoring 383 to leave Australia to chase 349. Australia were in the game throughout and if not for White, would have pulled off a marathon fourth-innings chase. Of the nine wickets to fall to bowlers, White picked up eight. Australia, at one point, were 211 for 3, well on course thanks to a 137-run partnership between Alan Kippax and Ryder, but White broke the partnership by taking Kippax’s wicket and 13 runs later accounted for Ryder as well. White kept on taking wickets at regular intervals and with Australia needing only 41 runs to win with four wickets in hand, it was White who won England the match by picking up three of the last four wickets to hand England a 12-run victory.
1. Phil DeFreitas: 21 and 88, 2/70 and 0/31 v Australia, 1995. Match Impact: 9.38
England went into the fourth Test of the 1995 Ashes 0-2 down. DeFreitas made 21 in the first innings as the visitors scored 356. Michael Slater and Mark Taylor put together a century opening stand and Australia looked set to outscore England in the first innings. But DeFreitas got rid of Slater, breaking the 128-run stand, and No. 3 David Boon in quick succession to keep Australia in check.
Debutant Greg Blewett notched up a ton as Australia still amassed 419. England were in trouble at 181 for 6 in the second innings before DeFreitas walked in and smashed a 95-ball 88 (highest score of the third and fourth innings). He along with John Crawley and the lower order took England to 328 setting Australia 263 for victory. The home team collapsed for 156.
This was by far DeFreitas’s highest impact batting and all-round performance in a Test match. His ability to score a high proportion of the total runs scored (runs tally impact) in a tough situation while absorbing pressure (of falling wickets) stood out.
2. Tim May: 2/41 and 5/9, 6 and 42 not out v West Indies, 1993. Match Impact: 8.97
It was the fourth Test of the five-match series with Australia in the lead with a win in Melbourne. Phil Simmons and Desmond Haynes gave West Indies a good start. Brian Lara joined Haynes and the pair seemed to be in control before May sent Haynes packing for 45 (129 for 3). He soon saw the back of Arthurton (130 for 4).
That led to a bit of a collapse, with the visitors just managing to put together a moderate 252. Curtly Ambrose took 6 for 74 and gave West Indies a marginal lead in the first innings as Australia were bowled out for just 213. West Indies were then reduced to 65 for 4 in the second innings before Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper resurrected the innings and seemed to take their side into the ascendancy when May showed great craft and guile with his offspin. He dismissed Hooper and then ran through the lower order, West Indies losing their last six wickets for just 22 runs (May picked up five of these). They collapsed for 146.
Australia needed just 186 for a win but the trio of Courtney Walsh, Ambrose and Ian Bishop had different ideas. They ripped through the Australian batting and left them reeling at 102 for 8 before May joined Justin Langer at the crease. He put on 42 for the ninth wicket with Langer before almost pulling off a miraculous win for Australia by adding 40 for the last wicket with Craig McDermott. Unfortunately, the latter was dismissed for 18 and May was stranded at the other end on 42 as West Indies won by a solitary run. May was the highest impact player of the match.
May had a high runs tally impact and absorbed pressure (of falling wickets) brilliantly in the second innings. He also had a high wickets tally impact.
3. Eddie Barlow: 201 and 47 not out, 3/6 v Australia, 1964. Match Impact: 8.90
The series headed to Adelaide with Australia in the lead after a victory in Melbourne. The hosts made 345 in the first innings. Barlow and Trevor Goddard then gave South Africa a solid start putting on 70 for the opening wicket before Neil Hawke dismissed Goddard and Tony Pithey. Graeme Pollock joined Barlow and the pair annihilated the Australian attack putting together 341 runs. Barlow scored 201. South Africa amassed 595. Australia, at 301 for 5, were on course for a big third-innings total with Barry Shepherd and Richie Benaud in the midst of a potentially match-winning partnership before Barlow, a medium-pacer, sent both of them packing. Australia lost their last five wickets for just 30 runs to set the visitors just 82 for victory, which Barlow (47 not out) and Goddard (34 not out) knocked off with ease giving South Africa a ten-wicket series-levelling win.
4. Kapil Dev: 3/33 and 5/130, 56 and 5 v Australia, 1992. Match Impact: 8.84
Australia had a 2-0 lead in the five-match series as the teams headed to Adelaide for the fourth Test. Kapil picked up 3 for 33 and to help skittle Australia for 145. He then came out to bat with India in trouble at 70 for 5, which soon became 70 for 6. He took the attack to the Australian bowlers and put together 65 with Manoj Prabhakar for the seventh wicket before putting on a useful 39 with Chandrakant Pandit for the eighth. Kapil made 56 off 83 deliveries (high pressure impact) helping India to 225. He then returned to pick up five wickets in the second innings (all top- and middle-order batsmen) even as centuries from Taylor and Boon propelled Australia to 451. A century from Mohammad Azharuddin went in vain as India fell short of their target of 372 by just 39 runs.
It was Kapil’s highest impact performance as a player in a match context.
5. Hugh Trumble: 3/124 and 6/74, 13 and 62 not out v England, 1902. Match Impact: 8.74
The series was tied at 1-1 and it was all to play for as the teams assembled at Adelaide Oval for the third Test. Archie MacLaren and Tom Hayward had given England a great start putting together 149 before the former was run out. Trumble then accounted for Johnny Tyldesley, Gilbert Jessop and Dick Lilley in quick succession to reduce the visitors to 186 for 5. A century from Len Braund, though, helped England post 388. Australia replied with 321.
The English openers seemed to be running away with the match putting together 82 before Trumble sent both of them packing. He kept chipping at the middle order and picked up four more wickets in the innings as England were bowled out for 247. The match was tantalisingly poised with Australia, set 315 for victory, at 194 for 4, when Trumble came out to the middle. He remained unbeaten on 62 and forged partnerships with Joe Darling, Monty Noble and Warwick Armstrong to take the hosts to a thrilling four-wicket win.
Soham Sarkhel/Nikhil Narain