The 2023 England v Australia Ashes series was an absolute cracker and had absolutely everything. There were missed chances, dropped catches, an incredible comeback, controversy, tight finishes, funky declarations and even funkier field settings, not to mention rain, sun, heroic batting, a clash of styles, injuries and more. Here we briefly take a look back at the series as a whole and also provide some statistical highlights to keep trivia fans well and truly stocked up with fascinating facts.
1st Test – Australia Win by 2 Wickets
The first ball of the series was dispatched to the boundary for four as Zak Crawley showed that Bazball meant business. England further demonstrated their commitment to their new style of play by rattling up 393 off just 78 overs (a run-rate of more than five). Jonny Bairstow hit a run-a-ball 78 and Joe Root an unbeaten 118 off just 152 balls, as eight of England’s team struck their runs at a strike rate in excess of 70. As if that wasn’t enough, they declared late on the first day in order to have four overs at the Aussie openers.
That gamble didn’t pay off but when the tourists collapsed from 338-5 to 386 all out things looked good for Ben Stokes’s team. They made 273 in their second innings and looked to have the match won when Australia were 209-7 and then 227-8. However, it wasn’t to be, as a fine unbroken partnership between Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon saw the Aussies home.
2nd Test – Australia Win by 43 Runs
England won the toss again (they would win it in each of the first four games) but Australia amassed 416. That total did not look so good when England raced to 188-1 off just 38 overs and Lyon injured his calf, meaning he could no longer bowl. However, a barrage of bouncers seemed to bewitch England and they collapsed, playing relentlessly attacking shots at the wrong time.
325 all out was not enough and Australia, with Usman Khawaja again leading the way, made 279 to set the hosts 371 to win. It was always going to be a struggle but England have completed some incredible chases under Stokes and would have believed they could do it. In the end they fell just short, but not before huge controversy as Alex Carey controversially stumped Bairstow, and also an incredible innings of 155 from Stokes, including nine sixes.
3rd Test – England Win by 3 Wickets
With may pundits berating England and declaring Bazball a failed experiment, the hosts went to Headingley knowing they had to win to keep alive their chances of winning the Ashes. And win they did! Australia made 263, largely thanks to Mitchell Marsh’s 118, but England’s reply, held together by 80 from Stokes, was poor.
However, England had brought Mark Wood and Chris Woakes in for this game and the pair proved decisive. Wood bowled with great pace to take five wickets in the first innings and added two more in the second. Woakes took three in both, whilst both contributed with the bat too. In the fourth innings the duo took England to their target of 251 after a fine innings by Harry Brook set things up. Brook struck 75 as Woakes ended on 32 not on and Wood smashed 16 off just eight balls.
4th Test – Match Drawn
Australia retained the Ashes as rain wiped out five of the last six sessions in Manchester. Woakes was again superb, taking five wickets in the first innings, whilst Stuart Broad took his 600th Test wicket. The Aussies made just 317 and England surpassed that in double-quick time. Crawley’s superb, memorable 189 from just 182 balls and Bairstow’s dazzling 99 not out from just 81 balls took England to 592 all out.
However, everyone knew rain was coming and although they dominated the game, England had to settle for a draw. Marnus Labuschagne made a fine 111 as Australia ended on 214-5. The Ashes were retained, but could the Australians actually win the series or would Stokes and co level things up at the Oval?
5th Test – England Win by 43 Runs
Australia finally won a toss and put the hosts in, which looked a good decision in terms of preventing the England win. Brook made a rapid 85 but England’s meagre 283 all out also owed much to 36 from Woakes and 28 from Wood. Their runs came from just 54.4 overs, which made the Australian response seem all the more pedestrian.
Their opening trio seemed determined to grind out a big score but failed and when the third wicket fell, Australia had made 115 off 51.5 overs. Labuschagne hit nine off 82 balls, with Khawaja managing 47 off 157. In the end Australia managed a slender advantage but England soon wiped that out.
91 from Root (106 balls), 78 from Bairstow (103 balls) and 73 from 76 balls for Crawley helped England to 395 all out from less than 82 overs. On a decent wicket, the tourists began well and got to 140 without loss. There was more controversy as a ball change was required and the substitute ball appeared newer and shinier. Even so, Australia advanced to 264-3 and were favourites at that stage.
However, Moeen Ali and Woakes took four wickets in four overs after a delay for rain and in the end Cummins’s team were all out for 334. As at Headingley, rain made things tighter than they might have been but England were deserved winners to tie the series 2-2. Broad announced his retirement during the match and ended in fairy tale style: he hit his last ball for six and his last ball was a match-winning wicket!
2023 Ashes Stats and Trivia
There were so many records broken during this series and countless incredible stats cropped up. Here are just some of our favourites.
- Cummins Dispatched – the Aussie skipper went for 4.9 runs per over five times in a row at the end of this series. Previously he had conceded at 4.5 or higher just once in 96 innings!
- England Runs Flow – across the series England scored at 4.74 runs per over, the fastest in Ashes history.
- What’s a Maiden? – Australia bowled just 34 maidens, a record low. The previous low for a five-match series was almost twice as many (66) – and that was when there were eight balls in an over!
- 300 Club – six Englishmen made 300+ runs in an Ashes series for the first time ever.
- Bairstow Delivers – much-criticised keeper Bairstow became the first England gloveman to score 75 or more three times in a Test series.
- Crawley Comes of Age? – Mr Inconsistent, supposedly, Zak Crawley made 20 or more seven times (from nine innings), averaged over 53 and was England’s leading runscorer.
- No Collapses – despite England’s relentless attack with both bat and ball, neither side made a score lower than 224 during the series. This was the highest lowest score in Ashes history!
- And No Run Outs – for only the second time in Test history, a series of at least five games ended without a run out.
- No Threes Please – the game at Headingley did not feature a single three. This had never happened in over 2,000 games (for which we have full data), aside from Tests with fewer than 50 overs played (due to rain, etc).
- Closer Than Close – the series ended 2-2, with a win for each side by three wickets or fewer and also by 49 runs or fewer.