Australia do not have a particularly good record at The Oval, having won just seven out of 37 Tests with two wins since 2001. Having retained The Ashes already, they can play with freedom in the fifth Test of the 2019 Ashes, but they will also be keen on making history and become the only Australian team to have won a series in England since the Steve Waugh-led team did in 2001.
In that series, Australia laid the final nail in the coffin at The Oval. The current Australian team too has a chance to do the same.
Looking back at some of the most consistent performers at the venue, one cannot look beyond Len Hutton, who scored 364 – then the highest individual score in Tests – in 1938, which reduced Australia to their biggest ever defeat. However, that was not the only big innings he played at The Oval. He scored back-to-back double centuries – 206 against New Zealand followed by an unbeaten 202 against West Indies. He is regarded as the best opening batsman by many and his legacy continues to live on till date. He is the leading run-scorer at The Oval, with 1,521 runs at 89.47, which included four tons and five fifties.
Hutton also has an unwanted record of being the first-ever cricketer to be dismissed obstructing the field – an incident that took place at The Oval – against South Africa in 1951. However, it is for the bucket load of runs he scored at this ground he will be remembered.
Moving from one legendary opener to another, Alastair Cook surely has a soft corner for The Oval as he played his farewell Test at the venue and signed off with a century, making him one of the few players to have scored a ton on debut and final match. His highest score at the venue came in his final Test innings – a match-winning 147 against India. The Oval was one of the two grounds where he scored over 1,000 runs, the other being Lord’s. He is only second to Hutton when it comes to the most runs here – 1,217 runs at 50.70.
A modern day great, Cook provided England with a sense of stability at the top for over a decade. England are yet to find an apt replacement for him.
Speaking of legends of the game, one cannot look past Ian Botham – arguably England’s best-ever all-rounder. While it is at Lord’s where he took the most wickets (69), he did not do badly at The Oval either, picking up 52 at 26.51. His only 10-wicket match-haul at the venue came in the 1981 Ashes – a series where he dazzled with both bat and ball.
Botham was not too bad with the bat either at The Oval. He scored 600 runs at 40, which included a career-best score of 208 – against India in 1982.