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Ashes 2021: England's biggest Ashes disasters as James Anderson dropped from XI


While far from a foregone conclusion, England’s early first innings slip reminds of previous Ashes down under. In an attempt to ward off such nightmares again, we look back at how much worse it could be

Rory Burns' wicket fell with the very first ball at the Gabba – and it didn't get much better for England from there
Rory Burns’ wicket fell with the very first ball at the Gabba – and it didn’t get much better for England from there

England’s efforts to reclaim the Ashes is underway. The first day came to a close with the tourists 147 all out, and Australia yet to bat.

After much anticipation, fans and players alike may be disappointed that the opening match has got off to a poor start, with Pat Cummins having run through the English batting lineup with fine captaincy and an irresistible fifer.

The poor start sees England face an uphill battle to salvage something at the Gabba, with Australia no doubt already smelling blood.

Even Queensland Police have jumped in on the ribbing, tweeting: “Queensland Police are launching an investigation into a group impersonating a Test batting order at the Gabba.”

Already questions are being asked about Joe Root’s exclusion of veteran bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, for whom the green pitch and cloudy conditions could be described as tailor made.

However, England being in deep trouble in Australia is far from a novel sight, and with a potential disaster looming, our attention turns to England’s most harrowing Ashes defeats.

England’s worst Ashes defeats







James Anderson and Stuart Broad were both left out of England’s starting XI for the first Ashes Test against Australia at Gabba
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Image:

Philip Brown/Popperfoto/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

In true English fashion, we look back at the national side’s darkest on-field days, in a round about attempt to ward off fate from letting it happen again.

Read on for England’s biggest test match losses, three of which featured in England’s only series whitewashes.

Melbourne in the 1920/1921 series

The first tour to have test status after the first world war, the 1920/21 Ashes promised to be a return to the joys of sport.

But it was not to be as England were rolled over in what was to become the first of their three five game whitewashings so far.

Worst of the bunch was, in what can only be described as an unmitigated disaster, the Melbourne test which saw England defeated by an innings and 91 runs.

Australian bowler JM Gregory took an exceptional seven wickets for 69 runs in just 20 overs in what would average out to be better than a wicket every third over bowled.

It made England the first team to lose every match in a five match tour, forever cementing this side into the history books.

Brisbane in the 1974/1975 tour






Dennis Lillee demonstrates his exceptional pace bowling

Faced with one of the greatest fast-bowling partnerships of all time in Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, England launched into the first test for an uphill battle at Brisbane’s Gabba.

But their efforts were in vain, as a thumping defeat set the tone for the remainder of the series, with England only managing to salvage a win in the sixth and final game of series. By then it was too late with the tourists falling for a 4-1 defeat.

Although Australia only won by a paltry – in terms of this list, at least – 166 runs, it saw Thompson bowl a mind-boggling 6-46 in the second innings, coming to represent the gulf in class between the two sides.

The tour went from disaster to disaster, with England captain Mike Denness becoming the only skipper to drop themselves from a test team.

The series was saved by being the first to begin its third test on boxing day, now a welcome and well established Ashes tradition.

Adelaide in the 2006/2007 tour

From a strong position of declaring on 551 for six, England managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory after fantastic innings from Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen.

When Ashley Giles dropped Ricky Ponting it signalled a turning point, with Australia going on to secure a total of 553.

On the final day England were reduced from 69 for one to 129 all out, making just 40 runs at the expense of all of their nine remaining wickets at the hands of Shane Warne.

Australia managed to knock off their target of 168 in the final session, as they rolled on to a 5-0 series whitewash.

Sydney in the 2013/2014 tour







Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen of England ahead of the disaster 5-0 tour
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Image:

Paul Kane)

In a humiliating bit of recent history, Alistair Cook’s England side were beaten into another 5-0 whitewash

“If it was a boxing match it would have been stopped,” Cook said at the time.

In Sydney, England were peppered by a rampant Mitchell Johnson, who took three wickets in each innings and saw an England side with a strong batting lineup on paper reduced to 155 and 166 respectively.

This was only the third 5-0 whitewash in over 130 years of the contest.

Of the three, this was England’s worst series with the least runs scored and the fewest runs per wicket at just 21.58.

Do you think another test match deserves a spot in this list? Let us know in the comments.

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