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Ashes 1989 - The Worst Aussie Team Ever - Part Fourteen

  • Ashes 1989 - The Worst Aussie Team Ever - Part Fourteen

SIXTH TEST, England v Australia, The Oval, 24-29 August 1989


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This Australian team had been the first since the legendary 1948 side to win four tests in England, and were aiming to become the first to win five.  They had performed well in the two county matches since Trent Bridge and for the fifth test in a row they were unchanged.  This meant they had gone through a six test series using just twelve players.

England, on the other hand, were the polar opposite.  They had suffered injuries before every test but the lead up to this game took things to a ridiculous level.  They made four changes at Trent Bridge but this time only five survived from that match.  Gooch returned after his decent county form and the struggles endured by Curtis.  David Capel returned after his last appearance at the same venue twelve months earlier, and Derek Pringle was back for the first time since the First Test of this series.  Gladstone Small, who would’ve played at Trent Bridge but for injury on the eve of the match, also returned for his first England appearance for fourteen months.  Moxon was also dropped as he made way for Gooch’s Essex opening partner, John Stephenson to win his first cap.  The other debutant was Kent’s fast bowler, Alan Igglesden, who was called up with just 24 hours notice.

This didn’t tell the full story as Malcolm suffered a back spasm just before the game so he was ruled out, he was replaced by DeFreitas who then pulled a hamstring.  Fraser withdrew from the squad with a knee injury and Thomas then told the selectors he was going on the South African rebel tour, so was unavailable.  Of the squad fit to play, Hemmings and Nasser Hussain were left out.  It was a chaotic build-up to a test England were desperately hoping they could restore some pride from.  It took the total number of players England had called upon during this series to 29.  Injuries, poor form, rebel tours and a losing team all contributed to this.



Border won the toss and chose to bat.  They’d batted England out of the game at Trent Bridge and were keen to do the same here.  England’s unfamiliar new ball attack came up against the two men who’d put on that record opening stand in the Fifth Test and as the score moved towards fifty they must’ve feared the worst.  Small had Marsh caught by Igglesden for 17 and 48-1 was a much better start for the home side.  Taylor continued as he had done all summer, hardly making any mistakes at all and moved towards another half-century as the lunch break lured.

LUNCH: Australia: 83-1 (Taylor 46*, Boon 18*)

During the afternoon, Taylor wasted no time in bringing up his half-century, off 91 balls with 3 fours.  He maintained his amazing record of passing fifty at least once in each test this series, and the signs were ominous he was digging in for another big one.  The partnership looked to be heading for three figures but then England had a period of rare dominance as both Taylor and Boon fell within 19 runs of each other.  Taylor presented Igglesden with his first test wicket for 71.  This now gave him 791 runs in the series and people were scanning the record books to check Bradman’s best.  Boon, himself a good scorer without being prolific was caught by Atherton off Small for 46.  He now had 405 runs in the series without a century to his name. 

Australia were now 149-3 but any hopes the home crowd had of a hitherto unseen tourist collapse was soon snuffed out by the combination of Border and Jones.  Both players were part of the Australian team defeated in the last series at home, with Jones being Australia’s top scorer.  In a series where many people point to Taylor and Waugh for their batting exploits, Jones was just as prolific.  Tea arrived with still only three wickets down as Border was a mixture of determination and incisiveness, and Jones who was all aggression and strength.

TEA: Australia: 190-3 (Border 22*, Jones 28*)

England may have been pleased to get three wickets by this stage, but as seemed to befit this summer, Australia soon resumed their dominance.  Border and Jones batted through the evening session, with Jones again the more aggressive.  Border was yet to register a century in this series where he’d captained so well and clinically.  His fifty came up off 98 balls with 8 fours and Jones fifty was faster, coming off 54 balls with 8 fours.  As the close of play loomed, Jones was almost cynical in his attack and brought up his century off 119 balls, having hit 14 fours.  It was his second century of the series to match Taylor and Waugh and he’d passed the 500 mark for the series too.  The signs were ominous this could be another ‘fill-yer-boots’ innings for the tourists and they were well set at the end of the first day.


CLOSE OF PLAY (DAY ONE): Australia: 325-3 (Border 66*, Jones 114*)




Australia’s previous five first innings scores had been 601-7, 528, 424, 447 and 602-6. Things did not look promising for the home side.  Border looked set for his first century of the series before he flicked Capel’s first ball behind to Russell and was out for 76.  The third wicket had added 196 and they were still in a good position, but then Small got Jones to edge to slip where Gower took a fine catch and his excellent innings had also ended.  Jones had batted for 217 minutes, facing 180 balls and thumping 122 runs, but two wickets had fallen for two runs.

Waugh was then bowled by Igglesden for his second test wicket for 14, and the four hundred had only just been reached when Healy edged behind off Pringle for a run-a-ball 44.  Pringle had toiled throughout the Headingley test for just one wicket, but now ten weeks later he seemed a different bowler.  The morning session had probably been England’s best of a sorry summer.

LUNCH: Australia: 419-7 (Hohns 4*, Hughes 6*)

Hughes and Hohns had provided some useful runs on the tour with Hohns averaging over 30 and Hughes over 25.  When you consider they came in at eight and nine and often after the top order had plundered huge totals, this made them an irresistible combination.  They added 38 for the eighth wicket before Pringle picked up his second wicket when he had Hughes lbw for 21.  Pringle made it three when he bowled Lawson soon after and then wrapped the innings up by having Hohns caught behind for 30.  Pringle’s 4-70 was his best return since he took five against West Indies at Headingley in July 1988, and England had taken the last seven Aussie wickets for just 123.

AUSTRALIA: 468 (Jones 122, Border 76, Taylor 71; Pringle 4-70, Small 3-141)

England had shown some fight and managed to put the Aussies under pressure but now they needed to build on this when they batted.  The light wasn’t good when Gooch walked out with his Essex opening partner, Stephenson.  Three balls in and for the third time in the series Gooch was out lbw to Alderman.  It was his fifth lbw dismissal of the series for Gooch and this time the relevance of it was magnified as the umpires called the day off for bad light just a few minutes after.  It’s one of the perils opening batsmen often have to endure but if only Gooch could’ve lasted a little longer he would’ve been able to enjoy much better conditions on day three.


CLOSE OF PLAY (DAY TWO): England: 1-1 (Stephenson 0*, Atherton 0*)

England trail by 467




Stephenson and Atherton battled well in the morning but then Hughes had Atherton caught behind for 12 and then Lawson bowled Smith for 11 just twenty minutes later.  47-3 was not the foundation they wanted to try and match the Australians but then Stephenson put on 33 with his captain, Gower and England had an eye on lunching in a recovered position.  But then Alderman returned to remove Stephenson for 25 and Capel for 4.  Stephenson had lasted two hours in his first test innings, facing 66 balls but England probably needed a more substantial contribution from an opening batsman than this.  Five down by lunch was par for the course with this series and having bowled so well the morning before, England once again failed to take advantage.

LUNCH: England: 89-5 (Gower 23*, Russell 4*)

Russell had been hard to prize out during the series and when he hit a couple of boundaries there was hope England could mount a decent recovery during the afternoon but then came Alderman again.  He found Russell’s edge for 12 and now England were 98-6 with Alderman taking four wickets to give him 38 for the series.

When Pringle came in he was in determined mood, especially after his bowling had seemed to give England a chance of getting back into the game.  He and his captain seemed to get to grips with the Aussie attack as Gower approached his half-century.

TEA: England: 124-6 (Gower 23*, Pringle 6*)


The weather meant there was no further play possible after tea again.


CLOSE OF PLAY (DAY THREE): England 124-6 (Gower 23*, Pringle 6*)

England trail by 344 runs




Gower and Pringle, both of whom were on the 1982/83 tour to Australia, took their partnership to 71 for the seventh wicket.  Gower brought up his fifty off 86 balls, having batted two hours hitting 7 fours, but then he became Alderman’s fifth wicket of the innings when he edged behind for 79.  He’d faced 120 balls hitting 11 fours and looked on for an important century.  Pringle received further support from Small as he two put on 32 for the eighth wicket before Pringle finally succumbed to Hohns for 27.  He’d batted for two hours twenty eight minutes and faced 90 balls, without scoring a single boundary.  England were still 68 away from saving the follow-on and Small and Cook at least gave the home support something to enjoy.

LUNCH: England: 232-8 (Small 36*, Cook 10*)

England trail by 236 runs

In the afternoon session, Small and Cook were particularly entertaining.  Small had already passed his previous highest test score of 21 and then Cook passed his best of 26.  Small brought up his maiden test fifty off 74 balls having hit 7 fours, and the two took their partnership to 73, taking their country passed the follow-on target.

Lawson then had Small caught by Jones for 59.  He’d batted for over two hours, facing 97 balls, hitting 8 fours.  The crowd at least had something to shout about.  Cook and Igglesden put off the inevitable for another thirty eight minutes before Lawson also got Cook to edge to Jones for 31.  He’d batted for just over two hours as well, facing 102 balls.  The last three wickets had managed to hang around for almost three hours, to at least show some fight even though it was too little too late.

Alderman now had 39 wickets for the series with Lawson on 27.  Alderman took another two lbw’s giving him 18 for the series.

AUSTRALIA: 468 (Jones 122, Border 76, Taylor 71; Pringle 4-70, Small 3-141)

ENGLAND: 285 (Gower 79, Small 59; Alderman 5-66, Lawson 3-85)

Australia lead by 183 runs

Tea was taken at the end of the innings


Needing an almost perfect bowling performance to give themselves a chance of winning the game, England came out with intent.  Igglesden soon had Marsh lbw for 4 after just a quarter of an hour and at 7-1 could the Aussies be vulnerable?  Taylor and Boon answered the question emphatically just continuing their good form from the whole summer and Australia extended their lead by the end of the day.  Taylor now had over 800 runs in the series.


CLOSE OF PLAY (DAY FOUR): Australia: 87-1 (Taylor 43*, Boon 29*)

Australia lead by 270 runs




All the talk was of when Border would declare.  Would he be going all out for a victory to give him an unprecedented 5-0, or would he play safe and deny England any possible sniff of getting something out of the series?  Taylor looked odds-on for yet another half-century but then Small got him to edge to Russell for 48.  His final tally for the series was 839 runs at 83.90, with two centuries and five half-centuries.  It was the second highest total by an Australian, and the third best in test history after Bradman’s 974, and Hammond’s 905.  Boon was then run out almost immediately after but then Border and Jones continued with the same script they had in the first innings.  Border’s fifty came off 73 balls and Jones reached his off 61 balls.  Jones was then bowled by Capel for 50.  He had accumulated 566 runs in the series at 70.75.  He had scored over 1,500 runs on the tour and his final four knocks were 50, 122, 70 and 128.  Australia were still going when lunch was called.

Border finally declared the innings at lunch on 219-4, giving his bowlers four hours to win the game and setting England an almost impossible 403.

AUSTRALIA: 468 (Jones 122, Border 76, Taylor 71; Pringle 4-70, Small 3-141)

ENGLAND: 285 (Gower 79, Small 59; Alderman 5-66, Lawson 3-85)

AUSTRALIA: 219-4 dec (Border 51*, Jones 50, Taylor 48)

England require 403 to win

Alderman picked up his customary lbw when he trapped Stephenson in front for 11 with just 20 on the board.  Gooch was then caught and bowled by Alderman soon after for 10.  Alderman now had 41 wickets for the series emulating his 40+ in 1981.  Nineteen of these victims were lbw decisions, an incredible 46%.

Atherton was then bowled by Lawson for 14 with England having dribbled past fifty and when Gower also fell to Lawson England were 67-4 and slightly nervous as tea was called immediately.

TEA: England 67-4 (Smith 18*)

England require 336 to win.

After tea in the final session of what had been a long series, especially for the home side, either Australia finally realised they should be tired or England’s determination not to be totally humiliated resulted in the game being called off early as a draw.  Capel and Smith put on 71 before Capel was out to Hohns for 17.  The leg-spinner had picked up 11 wickets for his five tests which was a decent return but was more utilised in a holding role giving Alderman and Lawson a rest, rather than an attacking one.  He picked up fewer wickets on the tour than his spinning partner, Tim May, but his runs gave him the nod for the test matches.  Smith brought up another fifty off 65 balls with 7 fours, to reinforce his position as England’s best batsman of the series.


The match was drawn and England had managed to fight off another defeat but Australia had won back the Ashes. 


AUSTRALIA: 468 (Jones 122, Border 76, Taylor 71; Pringle 4-70, Small 3-141)

ENGLAND: 285 (Gower 79, Small 59; Alderman 5-66, Lawson 3-85)

AUSTRALIA: 219-4 dec (Border 51*, Jones 50, Taylor 48)

ENGLAND: 143-5 (Smith 77*; Alderman 2-30)



AUSTRALIA won series 4-0


Man of the Match: Dean Jones

Players of the Series: Jack Russell (England), Terry Alderman (Australia)


Border became the first captain since Woodful in 1934 to regain the Ashes in England.  It was Australia’s first Ashes success in England since 1975, but the legacy this victory then inspired would last until 2005.

Previous Episodes

Part Thirteen - Tour matches v Kent & Essex

Part Twelve - Fifth Test

Part Eleven - Tour matches v Notts & Leics

Part Ten - Fourth Test

Part Nine - Four tour matches including Hants & Gloucs

Part Eight - Third Test

Part Seven - Tour matches v Universities & Glamorgan

Part Six - Second Test

Part Five - Tour matches v Lancs & Northants

Part Four - First Test

Part Three - Tour matches v Warwicks & Derbys

Part Two - Texaco Trophy One-Day International Series

Part One - Opening tour matches

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