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Greatest Ashes moments: Shane Warne, Sir Ian Botham and Ben Stokes

Following their 4-0 drubbing in 2021/22, England will be looking for revenge when they host Australia in this year's summer Ashes series.

The Ashes is unlike anything else in cricket and has provided some exceptional moments over the years. Here is a look at some of the best…

WhatAshes Series 2023
WhenFriday 16th June 2023 - Monday 31st July 2023
OddsEngland 10/11, Draw 6/1, Australia 6/4

'That Ball' from spin king Warne

While an Ashes series is a gruelling battle of wits and endurance, they can often boil down to individual moments of brilliance and few seem as significant as that 'Ball of the Century' from Shane Warne in June 1993 in Manchester.

With his first ever ball against England in his first Ashes Test, a 23-year-old Warne stunned the world with an exceptional delivery that drfited towards leg stump before hitting the pitch and turning the other way to clip off stump and dismiss Mike Gatting.

Gatting was rooted to the spot in disbelief and England struggled to recover, losing the first Test of that Ashes series as Warne picked up the man-of-the-match award.

But it was a moment which had ramifications beyond the series itself, marking the start of one of the greatest cricket careers of all time and reviving the art of leg-spin bowling in the process.

Laker takes 19 wickets at Old Trafford

Delving deeper into the Ashes archives, little compares to the performance of Jim Laker, considered England's most successful spinner, in the 1956 series.

The series was tied at 1-1 when England and Australia went into the fourth Test of the series at Old Trafford in Manchester and, after winning the toss and electing to bat, England put on a strong 459.

In response, Australia collapsed, struggling to cope with mastery of spinner Laker, who took an astonishing nine wickets in the first innings, reducing Australia to 84 all out.

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Australia were asked to follow-on and made 205 second time around but Laker was the star of the show again, taking all 10 wickets on a dusty Manchester pitch.

The win handed England a 2-1 lead but Laker finished with figures of 19-90 in the Test and, to this day, that performance has not been matched.

Botham sparks comeback win at Headingley

The 1981 Ashes series in England is regarded as 'Botham's Ashes' and central to that narrative was the all-rounder's match-winning display in the third Test at Headingley in Leeds.

Australia had taken hold of the match with a first-innings knock of 401-9 before declaring and, in response, England were bowled out for only 174, forcing the follow-on.

What came next was quite extraordinary.

Batting at seven and fresh from scoring 50 in the first innings, Ian Botham struck 149 runs off 148 balls, scoring 27 fours and a six in the process to turn the match on its head and get England to 356 all out.

Consequently, Australia were set a target of 130 in their final innings to win that match but Bob Willis' remarkable spell of 8-43 denied them and England pulled off one of the most unlikely comeback wins of all time, thanks largely to a sensational individual performance from Botham.

Stokes heroics at Headingley

Fast forward 38 years from Botham's heroics at Headingley and Ben Stokes put in a similarly spectacular individual display in an Ashes Test at the same iconic venue.

As when Botham arrived at the crease in 1981, Stokes performed in 2019 when England were in disarray, having been bowled out for 67 in their first innings and needing a miracle to salvage something from the match.

Earlier in the summer, Stokes had led England to World Cup glory against New Zealand following a sensational Super Over showing and he was once again the star of the show in the Headingley Ashes Test.

Stokes blasted an unbeaten 135 in Leeds, putting on an eye-watering last-wicket stand of 76 with Jack Leach to steer England towards their highest ever successful chase and a one-wicket win which levelled the series.

Flintoff's Ashes of 2005

A list of the greatest ever Ashes moments would not be complete without mention of Andrew Flintoff's remarkable series in 2005 in which he became the first ever Englishman to take more than 20 wickets and score 400 runs in a Test series.

The series win inspired by Flintoff was England's first since 1986/87, bringing to an end an era of Australian domination.

Among the most memorable moments from that series was Flintoff's searing over in the second innings of the Test in Edgbaston, an over which Ricky Ponting labelled as the best he ever faced.

In the over, Flintoff devastated with his reverse swing, dismissing Justin Langer with the second ball and Ponting with the last, handing England a vital breakthrough in the match.

An iconic century from under-fire Waugh

Ashes series can often make or break a player and, in Sydney in 2003, it was a case of the former for Australian Steve Waugh.

Waugh was not having the greatest time of it when he took to the crease in what would be his final ever Ashes Test in Sydney but demonstrated exceptional psychological resolve to keep his cool and write his name in the history books.

Under pressure to perform, Waugh managed to hit one of the greatest Ashes centuries of all time off the last ball of the day from off-spinner Richard Dawson, firing him through the covers to reach 10,000 runs and equal Sir Don Bradman's record of 29 Test centuries in the process. 

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