Warne~~s ball among Benaud~~s top Ashes moments

Published: Sunday, May 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Shane Warne's much talked about 1993 Ashes series delivery which bowled England batsman Mike Gatting was considered by batsmen as the ball from the hell but it was a ball from the heaven for the spinners, says former Australia captain and now noted commentator Richie Benaud.

Benaud was listing a list of top 10 moments in Ashes history for The Age, 200 hundred days ahead of the first match which starts on November 23 in Brisbane.

Benaud's compilation in order of chronology.

1882: England beaten at home for the first time by Australia:

There were many heroes; Fred Spofforth for his bowling and his rallying call, Billy Murdoch for his captaincy and Hugh Massie for his brilliant 55 out of the first 66 second-innings runs to allow Australia to set England 85 to win. Spofforth's 14-90 was a magnificent achievement from a great bowler.''

1932-33: Bodyline: ''Perfectly legal under the laws of cricket as they stood at that time, it didn't take long for England's administrators to change their minds. Bradman's batting average was halved, England won the series and relations between England and Australia were sorely tested in those early Depression years.''

1936-37: Magnificent fightback:

''Bradman captained Australia for the first time and England led 2-0 after the first two Tests. Then Bradman made 270, 212 and 169 in the next three games, all won by Australia. It is the only occasion a team has won a five-match series after being two down.Pitches were uncovered in those days.''

1948: The Headingley bonanza:

''No batting side had ever made over 400 in the fourth innings of a Test to win. Australia managed it here with Arthur Morris making 182 and Bradman 173 not out, Australia winning with 15 minutes to spare after Yardley had batted on for five minutes on the last morning before declaring. Neil Harvey made a brilliant century on his Test debut against England.''

1956: Jim Laker's 19 wickets:

''It was one of the most sensational bowling performances of all time. Two spinners in the England team, Laker and left-armer Tony Lock, each of them turning the ball a prodigious amount, Laker into the right-handers, Lock away from them. That was Tony's problem; that the ball could be allowed to go through to the keeper or even first slip. Laker was superb.''

1961: Bill Lawry:

''On a Lord's pitch shown later to have 'ridges' at the Nursery End, Bill Lawry played one of the finest and most courageous innings I have seen. Neil Harvey captained Australia to victory and Lawry made another superb hundred in the fourth Test at Old Trafford where Australia came from the clouds to win on the last afternoon and retain the Ashes.''

1972: The Chappell era begins:

''This was Bob Massie's match; he took 16 wickets in his Test debut on a green Lord's pitch. It was a low-scoring game but Greg Chappell played an innings of 131 that has remained in my memory. It was as close to flawless as anything I have seen. When Australia won the final Test at the Oval, the series was squared and it was thestart of the Chappell era.''

1993: The Gatting ball:

''Shane Warne bowled his first ball in Test cricket in England on June 4, Mike Gatting was the batsman. The ball swerved from off stump to just outside Gatting's leg stump, then spun back and clipped the top of the off bail. Other batsmen, and Mike's nearest and dearest, thought of it as the ball from hell. Legspinners muse over it as the ball from heaven.''

1997: Steve Waugh at Old Trafford:

''In my view this was Steve Waugh's greatest-ever batting achievement. It followed a brave Mark Taylor captaincy decision to bat first on a green, damp pitch because he wanted Shane Warne to bowl in the final innings of the game. It was brilliantly thought out. Steve Waugh made 116 and 108 and Australia won with half a day to spare.''

2005: Edgbaston:

''The closest margin for victory in an Ashes Test. A cricket match that lasted only four days, yet such was the excitement that, on the fourth morning, which might have lasted only two balls, the gates were closed an hour before the start. No shortage of heroes among both teams and the two umpires. And that lasting image, Andrew Flintoff and Brett Lee at the non-striker's end after the last wicket had fallen.''

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