The lead-up to the first Test of an Ashes summer at the Gabba has a hum of expectation all of its own. The treasure trove of memories from past skirmishes at the famous ground between Australia and England always ignites the imagination.

  

Most often the heartrate rises because we are reliving seriously fast bowling and tests of courage or dashing strokeplay made possible by a pitch famous for its bounce.

 

Whatever deeds are painted fresh by Pat Cummins, Joe Root and their men, we know they will join a tapestry of special Gabba moments in cricket’s folklore.

 

When Allan Border contributed the foreword to the book, A Superb Century: 100 Years of the Gabba 1895-95, he struck on the reason that events at the Gabba so often echo wider that the arena itself.

 

“The Gabba is not simply a cricket ground...and is rightly renowned as the heart of Queensland’ sporting life,” Border wrote.

  

It’s impossible to list a definitive roll call of the Gabba’s most memorable Ashes moments so we’ll pick five of the best from the post-war era.

 

1 THOMMO’S THUNDERBOLTS (1974-75)

  

No one who was at the Gabba for the opening salvos of the 1974-75 series will ever forget the arrival of a tearaway named “Thommo.”

  

It’s easy to forget that the slingshot speedster had gone wicketless (0-110) in his only previous Test against Pakistan two years earlier.

  

He knocked over English openers Brian Luckhurst (1) and Dennis Amiss (7) for his first Test wickets and the searing bouncer that welcomed English skipper Mike Denness to the crease helped get wickets for the pacemen at the other end too.

  

Thomson skittled England with figures of 3-59 and 6-46 and a legend was born

.

The frightening speed seemed to be generated so easily by his athletic, supple action. Test great-cum-columnist Keith Miller wrote of the spectacle that Thomson ”even frightened me sitting 200 yards away.”

  

One ball entered the annals of great deliveries bowled in Test cricket.

  

After England’s Tong Greig had counter-attacked with a fine 110 in the first innings, Thomson dealt with him in quick time in the second.

  

Greig didn’t even have time to jam his bat down on the missile that yorked him and rattled leg stump.

  

The sandshoe crusher was born.

 

2 DOUG WALTERS...CENTURY ON DEBUT  (1965-66)

  

Doug Walters was just 19 when the dasher from Dungog compiled a brilliant 155 on Test debut against England at the Gabba.

  

He came to the crease at 4-125. By the time he left the scene at 6-431, he’d cut and drove and pulled his way through five memorable hours.

  

There was always attacking theatre to the way Walters batted. His footwork got him to a ball bowled by England spinner Bob Barber and it was clouted into the old Cricketers’ Club.

  

Bill Lawry had scored 166 in the same innings but all the scribes wanted to write about was the new kid.

  

3 MATT THE BAT (2002-03)

  

One of Queensland cricket’s favourite sons cashed in big time when England skipper Nasser Hussein won the toss and elected to bowl on what he thought was a helpful pitch in the opening Test of the 2002-03 series.

  

Matt Hayden pulverised the England attack instead. He was 186 not out by the end of day one as Australia stood at an impregnable 2-364.

  

The big left-hander had struck 25 fours and two sixes by the time the carnage was over when he was dismissed for 197 the following morning.

  

With such a springboard, the Australians went on to win the Test by a whopping 384 runs but not before Hayden had scored 103 in the second innings.

  

4 MITCHELL JOHNSON (2013-14)

  

This was peak Mitchell Johnson when the left-armer was bowling with extreme pace.

  

You don’t just trundle in at the Gabba and get balls to zing. That’s always a neighbourhood myth.

  

You bowl with the rhythm, pace and pitch-whacking grunt that Johnson did in this Test and you get the rich rewards off a firm deck.

  

His 4-61 and 5-42 will always be some of the most destructive fast bowling seen at the Gabba in this victory over England by 381 runs.

  

A young Joe Root, Kevin Pietersen, Michael Carberry and Jonathan Trott (twice) were all victims of the North Queensland product over the course of the Test and Johnson had Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and the tail ducking and prodding too.

  

In a recent interview, Root gave a wonderful insight into how genuine fast bowling forces a batsman into strokes and reactions they know are not suited.

  

After a few big, errant drives at Johnson, Root quizzed himself: “What am I doing...this is not how I want to play.”

  

Too late. Gone.

  

“And I’m walking off thinking everything I’ve done within that innings is exactly how I don’t want to play my cricket,” Root said.

  

5 WARNIE THE WONDER (1994-95)

  

Shane Warne exploded all the old theories about the Gabba only being a hunting ground for fast bowlers.

  

The “Sheik of Tweak” spun through England on the final day with figures of 8-71 to finish off a rousing Test win with 11 wickets to launch a successful series.

  

Captain Mark Taylor’s Australians were at their best after Michael Slater (176) and Mark Waugh (140) had done the damage with the bat.

  

Australia’s bottle-blond leg-spinner enthralled the crowd with his armoury.

  

One of his best flippers bamboozled and bowled Alec Stewart, a top spinner hurried into Mike Atherton’s pads for lbw and leftie Graham Thorpe was bowled by a fuller pitched ball spinning out of a footmark.

  

His angle bowling around the wicket was too much for some and all-rounder Phil DeFreitas was bowled around his legs.

 

We told you it was hard to narrow down this list to just five when a Kepler Wessels' century on debut, a Peter Siddle hat-trick and so many other achievements are worthy.