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The Ashes stars from Kent including Colin Cowdrey, Geraint Jones and Les Ames

fter one of the most thrilling Test matches of all time, England are struggling once more to keep their Ashes hopes alive as the fourth day begins of the latest Test against Australia at Old Trafford.

Opening the batting for England is Joe Denly - the Kent star whose half century in the last match was vital to supporting Ben Stokes' unstoppable march to glory.

England's Joe Denly batting during day three of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds. (16107352)
England's Joe Denly batting during day three of the third Ashes Test match at Headingley, Leeds. (16107352)

But then while the county's heroes have been few and far between on the international stage in recent years, over the decades Kent has produced some of the stand-out performers during Ashes series.

We take a look at just a few of our home-grown Ashes heroes.

Alan Knott

Alan Knott
Alan Knott

From 1967 to 1981, the somewhat eccentric character of Alan Knott became a household name.

The wicketkeeper played 95 Tests for England and played a key role in a host of Ashes series.

In the 1970-71 tour Down Under he took five catches and a stumping in the seventh Test in Sydney (back in the days of seven match series and eight-ball overs) which steered England to victory and a 2-0 series win. But after joining Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series he was hit by a Test match ban.

However, he returned for the final two Ashes Tests in the 1981 series scoring an unbeaten 70 at the Oval in the final Test and what would be his international swansong.

Dean Headley

Former Kent and England cricketer Dean Headley.
Former Kent and England cricketer Dean Headley.

The Kent paceman certainly had international pedigree - both his father, Ron, and grandfather, George, had played Tests for the West Indies.

He played 15 Tests for England - with perhaps his finest moment coming in the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne in 1998 when he took six second innings wickets to give England their only victory in that series. He finished with figures of 6-60 off 17 overs. He was named Man of the Match for his performance.

Colin Cowdrey

Colin Cowdrey in 1955
Colin Cowdrey in 1955

Where do you start with the legendary Colin Cowdrey? A man whose ability with the bat was only matched by his ambassadorial qualities for club and country?

His debut was during the 1954 Ashes series in Australia. In the third Test in Melbourne he scored his debut century as he put on 102 of England's total of 191.

He would go on to be the first cricketer to play 100 Test matches - fittingly marking the occasion with 104 against Australia in 1968 at Edgbaston during his second spell as captain.

Colin Cowdrey
Colin Cowdrey

Remarkably, in 1974, having been out of the England team for three years he was recalled for the second Test of the Ashes tour of 1974/75. Having not even had time for a practice match he went in to face the fast bowling attack from the likes of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

As legend has it, he greeted Thomson at the wicket by saying: "Mr Thomson I believe. It’s so good to meet you."

Thomson retorting: "That’s not going to help you, Fatso, now **** off.”

He played his 114th, and last, England Test in Melbourne during that series.

Graham Dilley

Graham Dilley in 1979
Graham Dilley in 1979

Blond fast bowler Graham Dilley's England career will, almost inevitably, be remembered for the key role he played in the classic 1981 encounter at Headingley - better known now as the Botham Test.

He was part of a 117-run eighth wicket partnership with Beefy - reaching his highest Test score of 56. An essential contribution to a game which saw England turn disaster to victory. He was, however, dropped for the remaining two Tests of the series.

He played 41 Tests for England during an international career stretching from 1979 to 1989.

Frank Woolley

Frank Woolley in action
Frank Woolley in action

If longevity is a sign of talent, then look no further than Frank Woolley.

Born in Tonbridge, he made his debut in the final Test of the 1909 Ashes series at the Oval and made 64 appearances before bowing out, at the same ground and against the same opposition, in August 1934 - some 25 years later and at the age of 47.

Proclaimed as one of the all-time great all-rounders, he was part of the team who went Down Under in the winter of 1920/21 in the first Ashes series since the First World War.

Geraint Jones

Geraint Jones Pic: Ady Kerry
Geraint Jones Pic: Ady Kerry

Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones was a regular in all the 2005 Test series - proclaimed as one of the finest of all-time.

And he was key in taking an athletic catch in the second Test to secure England a narrow two-run win.

Not without his critics, he was given a surprise recall for the 2006/7 series in Australia where he scored two ducks in the third Test and never played for England again.

Derek Underwood

Former Kent and England cricketer Derek Underwood bowling, 1981
Former Kent and England cricketer Derek Underwood bowling, 1981

Derek 'Deadly' Underwood's spin bowling was renowned the world over - and it secured him 86 Tests over an international career stretching from 1966 to 1982.

When it came to the Ashes his most famous spell saw him take the final four Aussie wickets in the space of 27 balls and 30 minutes at the end of the final Test in 1968 to tie the series. Two years later, he was a key part of the touring squad that regained the urn.

Les Ames

Les Ames
Les Ames

When Jofra Archer started sending balls pinging around the heads of the Australians in the current series, it prompted plenty of talk of the infamous Bodyline tour of Australia in 1932-33 when England ditched its traditional gentleman-like approach to the game and started bowling bouncers at the body of their opponents.

Kent legend Les Ames was wicketkeeper in the series during a ten-year spell in the Test team, brought to an end by the Second World War in 1939. He remains considered one of the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman of all time.

Mike Denness

Mike Denness
Mike Denness

Captain of England for 28 Tests, Mike Denness' career is often defined by the anger his appointment created in Geoff Boycott who refused to play for him having been put out he hadn’t got the leader’s role.

He led the England team Down Under in 1974-75 and although soundly beaten over the series, Denness scored 188, his highest Test score, in the final Test at Melbourne.

Legend has it that during his stay in Australia, Denness received an envelope that had been sent with the address 'Mike Denness, cricketer'. The letter inside read: "Should this reach you, the post office clearly thinks more of your ability than I do."

He stepped down as skipper after losing the first Test in the 1975 series and never played for England again.

Brian Luckhurst

Brian Luckhurst
Brian Luckhurst

A player famous from going from boot boy at Kent to president, he debuted against Australia in 1970, averaging 56 and scoring two centuries as he embraced the challenge of the Ashes, helping England to series success.

He enjoyed a four-year international career - playing his last England game in the Ashes series back in Australia in 1974.

Richard Ellison

Richard Ellison
Richard Ellison

All-rounder Richard Ellison enjoyed his moment in the sun during a relatively short-lived Test career in the fifth Ashes Test in 1985.

He took four wickets for just one run to decimate the Aussies' second innings, having already taken six in the first.

It was key to England's success in regaining the urn.

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