At least the sun was shining, because there wasn’t much else to be cheerful about as England’s cricketers arrived back at Heathrow Airport, more than 100 days after their departure for Australia back in late October. In between their journeys through customs, the team found a perfect pitch around the 60-day mark of their tour, as the Ashes were sealed with a pair of thumping victories at Melbourne and Sydney, but thereafter it descended into tedium and acrimony, with Eoin Morgan‘s World Cup fate providing the perfect bum note on which to end a peculiar odyssey.
When Allan Border‘s men regained the Ashes after a four-year hiatus in 1989, they were treated to a tickertape parade through the streets of Sydney, and as for England’s own exploits, the events of 2005 remain engrained on the retinas of fans of a certain age, with open-top buses and packed receptions in Trafalgar Square marking the end of a remarkable summer’s contest.
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Steve Waugh occupied the No 6 position with much distinction. Image via Wikipedia
England have bested Australia in almost all aspects of the game in the first two Ashes Tests, but one area where the home team will feel particularly let down is the No.6 position in the batting line-up. Luminaries such as Steve Waugh, Allan Border and even the current captain, Ricky Ponting, have occupied that position with much distinction, but the current incumbent, Marcus North, isn’t a jot on those names.
On the other hand, England’s Ian Bell has fitted into that position superbly: his 76 at the Gabba was the highest score of England’s first innings and helped them achieve a semblance of respectability, while in Adelaide he took full advantage of an already demoralised Australian attack, helping himself to anunbeaten 68. So while Australia’s No.6 has mustered 49 runs in three innings in the series so far, England’s has scored 144 and been dismissed once.
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Image via Wikipedia
Australia begins the Adelaide Test as the underdog. It’s been a long time since that was the case. Allan Border is the last local captain to arrive at this increasingly attractive venue in charge of the weaker side, and his team came with a whisker of winning. For 17 years, the hosts have been regarded as superior. Not that victory has always followed. Adelaide brings out the best in visiting teams, and especially their batsmen. It is the least threatening of Australian grounds.
But Ricky Ponting‘s side is not without hope. As he surveyed his troops exhausted after their travails in Brisbane, the captain could have echoed a previous leader of more dubious reputation by exhorting “What though the field be lost? All is not lost!” Actually not even the match was lost. The Poms are in danger of premature celebration, and there is no ready cure for that. Despite losing the toss, Australia led by 221.
Full story: The Age
Action from the 3rd test of the 1986/1987 Ashes series from the Adelaide Oval
Match report: A draw from the start