England are confident but will the Ashes dream go up in smoke again?
With Australia’s current cricket team seemingly keen on proving they can be just as hopeless as any cricket team England produced circa 1990-2000, what better time to go Down Under and watch England defend the Ashes?
I was meant to go four years ago after the epic 2005 series, only to pull out at the last minute and buy a house instead.
Funny thing is, I’d still choose a collapse in the housing market and impending financial meltdown over that soul destroying tour that in the end cost England coach Duncan Fletcher his job.
A couple of friends of mine still went and I remember a call from one of them after the horrendous collapse on the final day of the second test in Adelaide, which saw England snatch defeat from the salivating jaws of victory.
“I want to come home,” my friend said. “The cricket’s rubbish (or something a little bit more fruity) and the beer’s watered down”. Poor fellow, the Aussies even deprived the English of the one thing that could numb the pain.
This time round new captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower have kept the tub-thumping to a minimum and England fans live in hope.
My memories of Ashes tours are generally of deep disappointment and gut wrenching inevitability, with England teams travelling in not in hope of victory, but expectation of defeat.
I only just about remember the last time England won a Test series in Australia, the 1986/87 vintage captained by Mike Gatting.
Memories have generally been painful, from the moustachioed Merv Hughes and Glenn McGrath towering over a procession of defeated English batsmen — usually poor Mike Atherton in McGrath’s case — to Slater, Taylor, Waugh and Hayden, to name check just a few Australian batsmen, thumping Caddick, Gough, Harmison and co all over the outback and beyond.
Ahhh Harmy. How could we forget the very first ball of the Ashes tour in 2006/07. I know he wanted to give his best mate Flintoff an early feel of the ball but there was no need to deliver it straight to second slip.
Times have changed, so they tell us. England are a stronger, fitter unit this time round, with a focused captain, while Australia are not the force they once were, but let’s consider the history England are up against.
Australia have a record of just one defeat in their last 13 home series, and have walloped England 19 times in their last 26 home Ashes Tests, including the 5-0 whitewash in the “forgotten” series of 2006/07.
They also still possess in their ranks Ricky Ponting, one of the game’s greats and a man desperate not to be remembered as the first Australian captain to lose three Ashes series.
So can England finally do it? Can they finally win a test series in Australia for the first time in 23 years?
Follow my trip to the first test in Brisbane and let me know your memories of Ashes tests in Australia and what is the best way of getting over a 24 hour flight to Oz?
You can follow my blog here and on twitter DBsAshestrail.
David Brett is an equities reporter for Reuters, based in London. He is attending the Ashes as a fan.
PHOTO: Australia’s Shane Warne shakes hands with England’s captain Andrew Flintoff (L) after the fifth and final Ashes test at the Sydney Cricket Ground January 5, 2007. Australia won the match and the best-of-five test series 5-0. REUTERS/David Gray