On this day in '38, England recorded biggest win in Test history

This win is among one of the best victories of England in the longest format of the game, with players like Leonard Hutton, skipper Wally Hammond, Maurice Leyland.
Len Hutton
Len HuttonICC

KENNINGTON: On this day in 1938, the England cricket team recorded the biggest innings win in Test cricket history, defeating Australia by a margin of an innings and 579 runs in the fifth and final match of The Ashes at The Oval.

This win is among one of the best victories of England in the longest format of the game, with players like Leonard Hutton, skipper Wally Hammond, Maurice Leyland contributing with the bat and Bill Bowes and Ken Farnes delivering excellent performances with the ball.

Electing to bat first, England put up a whooping 903/7 in 335.2 overs. Australian bowlers had absolutely no idea where to bowl, what to bowl as the hosts made them run all over the park.

Though England lost opener Bill Edrich (12) at 29 runs, Leonard Hutton and Maurice Leyland planted their feet firmly on the crease. The visitors had no answer for their hunger for runs. They put on a massive 382 runs for the second wicket, the second-highest stand for the second wicket back then and the fifth highest of all time currently. An unfortunate run-out ended Leyland's stay at crease that lasted 438 balls for 187 runs. Arrived the skipper Hammond, who scored 59 and build up a 135-run stand with Hutton.

There was no stopping Hutton that day as he had no mercy on the bowlers. While Hammond departed after being trapped LBW by Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Hutton continued his stay. The right-hander fell as the seventh wicket at the score of 770 and he scored 364 runs in 847 balls, with 35 fours. He had a 215-run stand with Joe Hardstaff, who scored an unbeaten 169* himself with 20 fours. Arthur Wood, the wicketkeeper batter also scored 53 before he was dismissed.

England's innings ended in 335.2 overs at 903/7, with Hutton being the top scorer. Bill O'Reilly was the pick of the bowlers for Australia, taking 3/178. Mervyn Waite, Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, Sid Barnes got a scalp each. What followed in the next few hours was even more humiliating for Australia.

Its world-class batting lineup folded for 201 in 52.1 overs in its first innings. Only Bill Brown (69), Lindsay Hassett (42) and Sid Barnes (41) could muster some decent contributions as Bill Bowes' pace left the batters rattled and he ended with 5/49 in 19 overs. Ken Farnes, Edrich and Leyland took one each.

To make things worse, Australia was without services of their superstar batter Don Bradman, who was absent hurt. The whole lineup fell like a pack of cards without its superhero-like batter and looked unbelievably off-colour. Aussies had one last chance to score a whopping 702 runs and at least force a draw. But the injury-hit Australia could not even put up anything close to a fight.

Their second outing with the bat was even worse, as they were folded for 123 runs. Contributions from Barnes (33) and Barnett (46) were the only scores that looked solid on the scoreboard. Farnes took 4/63 and Bowes took 2/25 and the pacers had exhausted every bit of life left in the injury-hit Aussies.

Spinner Hedley Verity also captured 2/15. Australia had lost the match by an innings and a massive 579 runs, which stands as Test cricket's biggest defeat by an innings. The Ashes was drawn 1-1. Aussies had retained the Ashes, but not without enduring this humiliating defeat at The Oval.

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