Between 1882, when the first Test was played there, and 2014, Sydney Cricket Ground has hosted 102 Test matches. Australia have won 57 of these and lost 28 with 17 being drawn.
Here, we look at the highest impact performances in their match context at the venue.
NOTE: All Impact numbers mentioned are in a match context, but in a career context, all the numbers are capped to 5.
Highest Impact batting performances
1. Mike Hussey: 28 & 134 not out v Pakistan, 2010. Batting Impact: 12.96
The scoreboard read 2/2 when Mike Hussey walked out to bat in the first innings and became 36/4 soon after. Hussey made 28 in an hour and a half before being dismissed with the total on 51. Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Asif were on song and Australia were dismissed for 127. Pakistan then took a lead of 206. But the second time around, Australia were much more determined. Shane Watson and Phil Hughes put on 105 but, at 159/3 when a set Watson was dismissed, trouble loomed again. Of the next seven batsmen, four did not reach double figures, and, yet, Australia got 381, a lead of 175. Hussey’s remarkable unbeaten 134 in almost five hours of batting had given his team a whiff of a chance, and it was all they needed as Pakistan were wiped out for 139 and the Test was won, by 36 runs. Australia would win the series 3-0.
2. Harry Graham: 105 v England, 1895. Batting Impact: 12.12
One of those great natural talents that did not eventually fulfil his true potential, 24-year-old Harry Graham showed what he was capable of when he held the team up despite a collapse, which left the score at 51/6 at one point. With Joe Darling (31) and allrounder Albert Trott, who remained unbeaten with 85, Graham produced a classic century and was eighth out at 231. Australia got 284 and it was enough in those conditions (rain and uncovered pitches) as England were dismissed for 65 and 72. This drew the series 2-2 but England would win the next match and the series.
3. Greg Chappell: 204 v India, 1981. Batting Impact: 10.56
A very simple story really. It was the opening Test of the series, and India got 201. Greg Chappell got 204 (and Australia 406). India got 201 again, and lost by an innings. Chappell came in at 3/1, which became 14/2. Just over two hours later it was 95/3. Chappell batted for over six-and-a-half hours to make his runs at a fair clip – his strike rate was 69. An easy choice for Man of the Match. Just as well that Chappell played that knock, as India would come back later in the series to end it 1-1.
4. Jonty Rhodes: 4 & 76 not out v Australia, 1994. Batting Impact: 9.84
South Africa were dismissed for 169 first up, and then Australia got a 123-run lead. Jonty Rhodes came out to bat at 107/4 but, by the time South Africa drew even, they had lost five wickets. So, effectively, it was 0/5 at one stage. But the middle and lower-order batsmen fought gamely. Rhodes remained unbeaten with 76, which included six fours and the game’s only six. South Africa managed to set a seemingly meagre 117-run target but Australia collapsed to Fanie de Villiers (in only his second Test match) and Allan Donald, falling short by 5 runs (as memories of Headingly 1981 came flooding back). However, Australia won the next Test and drew the series.
5. Michael Clarke: 329 not out v India, 2012. Batting Impact: 9.68
India 191. Australia 37/3 in response, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke at the crease. And then, out came the party hats and Australia frolicked for the next ten hours. Ponting got 134, Mike Hussey 150, but Clarke danced the most – his 329 bloated by 39 fours and one six, as Australia declared at 659/4. India fought to make 400 in the second innings but it would be fair to say that India’s challenge in the series ended with the morale-sapping pummeling. They went on to lose the series 0-4.
Highest Impact bowling performances
1. Charlie Turner: 5/44 & 7/43 v England, 1888. Bowling Impact: 7.97
On a pitch that could only be described as a batsman’s graveyard, Charlie ‘Terror’ Turner, the right-arm medium fast bowler, destroyed England for 113 and 137. But England had two heavy mortar shells named George Lohmann and Bobby Peel, who annihilated Australia for 42 and 82 respectively. They shared the impact with nine wickets apiece while Turner, though his side lost by 126 runs, still had the highest bowling impact.
2. Fred Spofforth: 4/54 & 6/90 v England, 1885. Bowling Impact: 7.44
Series tied 1-1. Australia made 181 in their first innings before Fred Spofforth came out bristling and finished off England for 133. Australia only managed 165 in their second dig. But Spofforth was rampant again and soon England were 92/6. Then came a remarkable stand of 102 between Wilf Flowers and Maurice Read, and both made 56 before Spofforth dismissed them. England eventually fell short by 6 runs.
3. Bob Holland: 6/106 & 4/68 v New Zealand, 1985. Bowling Impact: 7.30
Legspinner Bob Holland played just 11 Tests in his career in which he took 34 wickets at an average of 40. Of those, 20 wickets came in just two matches at SCG, his home ground. This time (the first was against West Indies the year before), it helped Australia draw level 1-1 in the series, but they lost the next Test and the series.
4. Herbert Hordern: 5/85 & 7/90 v England, 1911. Bowling Impact: 7.24
Given the opportunity to defend 447 runs in the first innings, and 438 runs in the second, legspinner Herbert Vivian Hordern (nicknamed Ranji for his dark complexion) took his first ten-wicket haul in a match, in only his third Test. He would do it again a year later, again in Sydney and again against England, in what would be his last Test.
5. Maurice Tate: 6/130 & 5/98 v Australia, 1924. Bowling Impact: 7.20
Maurice Tate was one of the most loved cricketers of his era. Perhaps the Australians loved him too during the timeless Test in the summer of 1924, despite him taking 11 wickets in the high-scoring match, because the Australians love a good scrap as long as they win the series, which they did – 4-1.
Note: Anil Kumble’s 8/141 & 4/138 against Australia in 2004, with a Bowling Impact of 7.18 comes sixth on this list.
Highest Impact all-round performances
1. Wilf Flowers: 5/46, 0/19 & 24, 56 v Australia, 1885. Match Impact: 10.99
In the same match in which Fred Spofforth did so well, Wilf Flowers’s bowling figures in the first innings were 46-24-46-5 as Australia made 181 in 167.2 overs. Flowers then top scored with 24 as England made 133. Then he bowled 20 overs for 19 runs without a wicket as Australia made 165. And, finally, in a 214-run chase, Flowers came in to bat with the score at 61/5, which soon became 91/7. With Maurice Read as the aggressor, they took the score to 194 before Read fell for 56. A tense crowd watched as Flowers tried to take his team through but fell 13 runs later, also at 56, just six runs short of Australia’s score. He was the last man out in a classic match and series that England would eventually win 3-2.
2. Ravi Shastri: 0/37, 4/45 & 206 v Australia, 1992. Match Impact: 10.87
Australia were 2-0 up in the series, and lmade 313 in the first innings in this Test. Shastri opened the innings, and stabilised things after Navjot Sidhu departed early. Sanjay Manjrekar and Dilip Vengsarkar both got starts but could not stay for long, and Mohammad Azharuddin fell early before 18-year-old Sachin Tendulkar joined Shastri. Together, Shastri and Tendulkar went after 22-year-old debutant legspinner Shane Warne. A 196-run partnership finally ended when Shastri was dismissed for 206 after nine-and-a-half hours of batting. Tendulkar got an unbeaten 148 and India got a 170-run lead. Then they turned it on with the ball. Leading the way was Shastri with 4/45 and things looked rather exciting with Australia at 114/6 at one point, but Allan Border and Merv Hughes saved the day for their team. Australia finished with 173/8 when time ran out.
3. Billy Barnes: 0, 32 & 2/19, 6/28 v Australia, 1887. Match Impact: 10.42
On a horror pitch, England were all out for 45 in 36 overs on the first day but still went on to win the match by 13 runs. Australia made 119 as Billy Barnes slowly came into the match with two wickets. Then he scored 32 in England’s batting effort of 184. The climax came in slow motion though – Barnes bowled 46 overs, with 29 maidens, gave away 28 runs and took six wickets in the Australian second innings. Australia were all out for 97 in 107 overs in what was a pulsating finish.
4. Wally Hammond: 231 not out & 0/6, 3/29 v Australia, 1936. Match Impact: 10.36
It started with Hammond scoring an unbeaten double century in England’s 426/6 declared, where the second-highest score was 57. Australia made 97 (first-ball duck for Don Bradman) in reply and then 324, in which Hammond bowled consistently as the fourth seamer. He picked up three wickets too as England won by an innings to take a 2-0 series lead. Bradman would wake up thereafter and pulverise England as Australia won the series 3-2.
5. Bob Massie: 2, 42 & 3/123, 1/19 v Pakistan, 1973. Match Impact: 9.95
Australia had already won the series 2-0 but this was still a hard-fought game. In the third innings, Australia were 101/8 at one point, which was effectively 75/8 given the first-innings lead they had conceded. Bob Massie walked out, a pale shadow of the sensational debutant who had taken 16 wickets just six months ago. Saleem Altaf and Sarfraz Nawaz were still a handful and the match looked over. But debutant John Watkins and Massie would not be dismissed for the next two-and-a-half hours, in which they would somehow eke out 83 runs more, enabling Australia to set a target of 159. Massie would then take the first wicket in Pakistan’s innings to start a spectacular slide with Dennis Lillee and Max Walker running amok. That innings of 42 by Massie was eventually higher impact than Mushtaq Mohammad’s 121 and all four half-centuries in the match (Ian Redpath, Ross Edwards, Nasim-ul-Ghani and Asif Iqbal) – by far. It was also Massie’s highest impact batting performance ever.
Ironically, neither Massie nor Watkins were picked to play for Australia again. The reason: They had been selected for their bowling, which wasn’t deemed adequate by the selectors.
It’s this sort of mindset that has made Australia the most successful team in Test history. And, no doubt, Sydney Cricket Ground has played its part in making the story what it is.
Jaideep Varma/Soham Sarkhel
Jaideep Varma, Gokul Chakravarthy, Nikhil Narain and Soham Sarkhel run Impact Index, a new way of looking at cricket statistics. They tweet @Impact_Index.