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Australian cricket team in England in 1981
The tour by the Australian cricket team in England in 1981 included the 51st Ashes series of Test matches between Australia and England. Despite having been 1–0 down after two Tests, England won the next three Tests to finish 3–1 victors (with two draws), thus retaining the Ashes. The series is popularly known as Botham's Ashes, owing to the remarkable performances of Ian Botham with both bat and ball.
Australia's captain Greg Chappell made himself unavailable for selection. The Australian squad selected for the tour was as follows:
- Batsmen – Kim Hughes (captain), Allan Border, Graeme Wood, John Dyson, Graham Yallop, Martin Kent, Dirk Wellham, Trevor Chappell
- Fast bowlers – Dennis Lillee, Terry Alderman, Rodney Hogg, Geoff Lawson
- Spinners – Ray Bright, Graeme Beard
- Wicketkeeper – Rod Marsh, Steve Rixon
Bruce Yardley had been Australia's most successful spinner that summer with 47 wickets, followed by Jim Higgs with 38. The selectors preferred Ray Bright (22 wickets at 40) and Graeme Beard (29 wickets at 25).
Mike Whitney was called up as a replacement during the tour.
Test series summary
18–21 June 1981
2–7 July 1981
- Australia won the toss and elected to field.
- 5 July was taken as a rest day.
- RA Woolmer (Eng) retired hurt on 13* from 83/2 to 284/5 in England's first innings.
16–21 July 1981
- Australia won the toss and elected to bat.
- 19 July was taken as a rest day
- This was only the second time in Test history that a side won after following on.
30 July – 2 August 1981
13–17 August 1981
27 August – 1 September 1981
Although the two teams were generally disappointing by the world standards being set by West Indies at that time, the 1981 Ashes is nevertheless widely regarded as one of the most entertaining Test series ever due to the see-sawing nature of both the individual games and the series as a whole.
England won the series 3–1 despite being 1–0 down after the first two Tests. Before the third Test at Headingley, the inspirational Mike Brearley was reinstated as England captain, replacing Ian Botham, whose 12-Test tenure as captain had been winless and whose previously excellent form with both bat and ball had fallen away (he had made a pair in the second Test at Lord's).
A galvanised Botham took 6 for 95 in Australia's first innings and scored 50 in England's, but Australia nonetheless compiled 401 for 9 declared (John Dyson scoring 102) and bowled England out for 174, thus forcing England to follow on 227 runs in arrears. Despite a stubborn 46 from Geoff Boycott, in the second innings Botham came to the crease with England on 105 for 5, still requiring 122 runs to avoid an innings defeat. He played an outstanding innings of 149 not out, sharing partnerships of 117 with Graham Dilley for the eighth wicket, 67 with Chris Old for the ninth and 37 with Bob Willis for the tenth, to set Australia a target of 130. Australia then reached 56 for 1, seemingly well set, before Brearley switched Willis' bowling end to allow him to bowl down the slope. Willis bowled a superb spell of 8 for 43 to dismiss Australia for 111; England became only the second team in Test Match history to win a match after being made to follow on.
The fourth Test at Edgbaston was a similarly inspired comeback victory for England. England conceded a 69-run first innings deficit, and set Australia a target of only 151 in the fourth innings. Australia reached 105 for 4 before Botham took five for 11, including a spell of five wickets for a solitary run, to end Australia's second innings at 121 and give England victory by 29 runs.
England also went on to win the fifth Test at Old Trafford to retain the Ashes, including another century for Botham (who reached his hundred in 86 balls). Botham scored 118 from 102 balls, dominating a chalk-and-cheese partnership of 149 with Chris Tavaré, who blocked his way to 78 from 289 balls. Botham's innings included 6 sixes, which was an Ashes record until Ben Stokes's innings of 135 at Headingley in the 2019 Ashes series. Second-innings centuries from Allan Border and Graham Yallop could not avert defeat.
One Day Internationals (ODIs)
4 June 1981
210/7 (55 overs)
212/4 (51.4 overs)
6 June 1981
249/8 (55 overs)
247 (54.5 overs)
- England won the toss and elected to field.
- TM Alderman (AUS) made his ODI debut.
8 June 1981
236/8 (55 overs)
165 (46.5 overs)
- England won the toss and elected to field.
Visit to Sri Lanka
The Australian team visited Sri Lanka in May 1981 en route to England. They played three limited overs matches and one first-class match against the Sri Lanka national cricket team, which at that time was on the eve of achieving Test status.
- "Chappell, Walters out of team". The Canberra Times. 12 March 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 6 February 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "50 to march in protest at Walters omission". The Canberra Times. 12 March 1981. p. 30. Retrieved 6 February 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Walters rings down the curtain on a truly first-class career". The Canberra Times. 7 October 1981. p. 38. Retrieved 6 February 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Australian First-Class Season 1980/81: Best Bowling Averages". Static.espncricinfo.com. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
- Walmsley, Keith (2003). Mosts Without in Test Cricket. Reading, England: Keith Walmsley. p. 372. ISBN 0947540067.
- Walmsley, Keith (2003). Mosts Without in Test Cricket. Reading, England: Keith Walmsley. p. 369. ISBN 0947540067.
- Cricinfo - The great escape