On 24th June 1948, the Don Bradman led Australian side inflicted a 409-run defeat on England at the Lord’s cricket ground. It wasn’t the highest margin of defeat, by which England had lost to Australia because in 1934, they had lost by a whopping 562 runs at Kennington Oval’s 5th test match of the Ashes series. Bill Woodfill was Australia’s captain but the victory was credited to two Aussie batsmen; Bill Ponsford and Don Bradman. Both batsmen scored double centuries and the first innings score of 701 runs laid the foundation of that massive victory for Australia. England also suffered a 425-run defeat against Clive Lloyd’s West Indies team in the third test at Old Trafford Manchester in 1976. But their 405-run defeat last week was more painful because they won handsomely in the first test match at Cardiff. For records’ sake, this was a lower margin of defeat but the humiliation was much bigger than on previous occasions. Talking about cricket history’s biggest victory margins, England finds it difficult to draw solace from the fact that in November 1928, they defeated Australia by 675 runs in the first test of the Ashes Series at Brisbane. Interestingly, Sir Donald Bradman played in all these three matches, in which Australia lost by that heavy margin and when England suffered their worst defeats. It is also a coincidence that Sir Don made his debut in 1928 at the age of 20 and played the last of his 52 test matches in 1948, the year he hung his boots.
The drama in the on-going Ashes series of the English summer is unmatched to any other series because the Australian dominance of the Lord’s test couldn’t have been foreseen. England had soundly thrashed the visitors in the Cardiff’s first test match and taken to the field with great hopes on the first day of the Lord’s second test. The match belonged to two Australian batsmen; the 37-year old Chris Rogers, who has blossomed beautifully late in his career and Steven Smith, the Australian captain in the making. The two batsmen collectively scored 495 runs in the two innings out of Australia’s combined total of 820. That is 60% of the total runs scored by Australia. Mitchel Johnson made Australia’s task simple with bowling figures of 3/53 in the first innings and 3/27 in the second. While Australia had a chance to enforce the follow-on, they decided against it in trying to build more pressure by batting again and scoring a brisk 254/2 in 49 overs in the second innings before declaring. The victory target of 509 in the fourth innings was like asking for the impossible. With Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh and Nathan Llyon all coming good with the ball, the England second innings folded in 37 overs for 103 pathetic runs to hand over a roaring victory to the visitors. With three more test matches remaining in the series, England will have to find some new strategies to bounce back.