ENGLAND’S national cricket team has produced some historic performances in the Ashes over the years, with the series making heroes of some of those lucky enough to star in the matches.

Ian Botham, Freddie Flintoff and Ben Stokes have all contributed unforgettable performances on the big stage in past series.

But many people are unaware of the fact a former Oswestry Cricket Club player played a part in one England’s most historic tours of Australia.

The initial quest for the Ashes began back in late 1882.when England under the captaincy of the Honourable Ivo Bligh made their fabled trip to Australia in what was to be a tale, not only of sporting triumph, but romance and tragedy.

The historic tour was to involve a gifted young batsman from near Oswestry, studying at Oxford at the time named Charles Leslie.

Leslie's call to arms came just weeks after Billy Murdoch's Australia team had defeated England on home soil at the Oval in a one-off Test Match.

Amid huge publicity, Bligh, and his team of four professionals and eight amateurs, including the 21-year-old Leslie, set sail for Australia in October 1882 to reclaim the Ashes.

Some 350 miles after leaving Columbo, the Peshawar was involved in an unaccountable collision with a fully rigged barque. Substantial damage was caused to the touring party's vessel amidship with the captain giving orders to lower the lifeboats. The shark infested sea, however, was to remain as calm as a millpond, happily allowing the steam ship to crawl back to Columbo for repair.

Despite their delayed passage the England touring party, guests of the Melbourne Cricket Club, arrived in Australia in early November before Murdoch and his victorious team were welcomed home.

Leslie was to make an impressive start to the tour, scoring 146 against New South Wales in the tourists' total of 461. It remained his highest ever first-class score.

Without the injured Morley, England lost the first test in Melbourne by nine wickets, but Leslie who rarely bowled even at Oxford returned the impressive figures of 3-31 in the first innings, claiming the prized wickets of Murdoch, Horan and Bannerman.

Despite this heavy defeat, Bligh was undeterred in his mission to regain the ''revered ashes of cricket'.

England squared the series three weeks later when Billy Bates picked up 13 wickets as the Tourists won in Melbourne by an innings and 27 runs.

Leslie played his part too – batting third, he and “A G” Steel, put on 71 for the third wicket before Leslie fell victim to a fine piece of fielding.

Wisden reported: “The Oxonian played a ball hard to the off and stated for a run.

“The ball went to Spofforth who, standing forward cover point, very smartly threw down the wicket, and Leslie was run out for an almost faultless innings of 54.”

And so, to Sydney for the deciding game, a match which was marred by controversy with the bowlers being accused of roughing up the wicket in their follow through.

In a thrilling contest, Dick Barlow, the Lancashire professional, bowled out Australia for 83 in the final innings, thereby securing a 69-run victory and the Ashes.

By arrangement a final international match was played against an All Australian XI with the home side winning by four wickets, but it had no bearing on the result of the test series, despite the Australian press claims that the Ashes should remain in Australia with Bligh's team having won only two of four tests.

For Bligh it was mission accomplished as he hurried back home to seek his parents' approval to marry the beloved Florence. Meanwhile, Leslie returned to Oxford to complete his degree, but was never to play for England again.

So, who was Oswestry and Shropshire’s first test cricketer?

Born in Mayfair, London on December 8, 1861, Charles Frederick Henry Leslie was the third son English composer and conductor, Henry David Leslie and Mary Betsey Leslie (Perry).

Leslie grew up at his mother's home, Bryn Tanat Hall, near Llansantffraid with three brothers and a sister Educated at Rugby.

He was a member of the school’s cricket XI for four years, captaining the side in his last two years.

During the school holidays, Leslie played for Oswestry Cricket Club and at the age of 16 made his debut for Shropshire.

In 1881, Leslie went up Oriel College Oxford, where he immediately made his mark as a freshman, scoring 111 on his first-class debut.

Upon leaving Oxford, Leslie continued to play for Middlesex in the County Championship, but finally retired ''to his great disappointment'' from first-class cricket in 1888 at the age of just 27 to go into the family insurance business. His amateur status dictated the financial need to pursue a career outside of cricket.

In 48 first class games, Leslie scored 1860 runs at an average of 22.96 and took eight wickets at an average of 20.62.

In 1893, he was to end his sporadic playing career with Shropshire for whom he scored 589 runs at an average of 45.30, his top score being 164.

Following his retirement from the game, Leslie pursued a successful business career. But despite his success in the field of business, Leslie never lost his abiding love of the game, serving for 37 years as Hon Secretary of the famous Butterflies Cricket Club.

He was to die at the early age of 59 in Mayfair, but the Leslie cricketing dynasty lives on.

Despite a short-lived test career, and early retirement from the game, Leslie at his best was a batsman of very high class with a strong defence and ability to strike the ball powerfully.

His first and only tour had not been without success. He had played his part in recovering cricket's most celebrated memorial.

This little-known England cricketer has now been fittingly inducted into the Oswestry Sports Forum Hall of Fame in this, the year of the 66th Ashes Series. His name is now rightly etched in in the annals of local sporting history.