Six times England fluffed their opening lines at Brisbane

The Ashes
Mitchell Johnson

England last won a Test in Brisbane 35 years ago when Ian Botham smashed a brutal 138.

Previous assaults on the Gabba have been like taking pop guns to a fortress. In other words, they get their backsides spanked. Can it change?

1. Nasser sees fear in the batters and bails out: 2002 Brisbane

Nasser Hussain won the toss on a belting Brisbane pitch in 2002, only to claim that he felt England’s batsmen looked too nervous in the dressing room. He slotted the opposition in and they rattled up 364-2 on day one. The swear box was probably given to charity seven hours later.
“I read the wicket wrong on the first day and the buck stops with me on that one,” Hussain said. “I just thought if there was anything in the wicket we needed our young bowlers to get something, but there wasn’t anything in it.” Unfortunately, one of those young bowlers, a certain Simon Jones, ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when fielding.
Not a great start to a series that was lost within 11 days of actual cricket….

2) Vince runs himself out and root puts Anderson on snooze, 2017This tour had the smell of trouble from the start. The media had a field day with ButtingHeadsGate when Cameron Bancroft and a “weird” Jonny Bairstow locked horns in a Perth bar before the real action began. On the pitch, Joe Root’s men reached a serene 145-2 with James Vince dining out on a lavish 83 before realising he only deals in international cameos. When Nathan Lyon ran him out, the house of cards began to topple.
England had Australia in all sorts of strife at 76-4 until they struggled to clean up their nemesis, Steve Smith, who scored an undefeated 141 while Root put Anderson in storage. England even played Shaun Marsh into form. It was curtains. The hosts stormed to a ten-wicket win.3) Harmison goes wide of the mark 2006

After the magnificence of the 2005 Ashes, fans from both sides eagerly awaited the return down under with folk hero Andrew Flintoff the newly installed swashbuckling pirate captain -without a pedalo in sight at this point. Trouble was, this wasn’t the same England of Trafalgar Square. Well, actually, they were quite sozzled before the game began. Michael Vaughan had succumbed to his knee; Marcus Trescothick had to fly home with stress, and Simon Jones was a huge missing link from the speed and swing string quartet.
Nobody predicted that Steve Harmison’s engine was about to blow up either. He delivered the first ball of the match so wide that it ended up in Flintoff’s lap on first bounce. Ricky Ponting recounted later: “ I think that gave us a bit of a lift. It suggested England might have been a bit nervous.” A bit? Harmison admitted he was “underprepared, nervous and tried to bowl too fast. I have a good laugh about it now.” Australia ended day one on 346-3. You gotta laugh. Freddie’s men were spanked by 277.

4) Slats slaughters daf in the opening over, 1994

When the two oldest enemies met in 1994, Australia hadn’t won any of their last three series so there was a tiny bit of old-fashioned English optimism (old being the operative word as they had brought two of their elder statesmen– Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch for one last hurrah)
The legends – a combined age of 78 – must have felt a whole lot stiffer when Phil De Freitas’s first ball was dispatched to the boundary between gully and point. Aussie journalist Gideon Haigh wrote: “The scorebook confides that Slater hit the first ball of the series for four. It relates nothing of how eyes rolled, shoulders sagged and hearts sank among English players, spectators and journalists.” A 184-run defeat it was then.

5) England don’t put the boot in as they twitch to Mitch 2013

The home and away 2013 Ashes series were back to back. England had won a curiously miserable and underpowered series 3-0 on their own patch, but the fissures were beginning to show. This was not the professional crack unit of 2010-12 but a weary, broken band of men under the fading autocracy of Andy Flower.
Under Alastair Cook’s rather doleful captaincy, they failed to get through the lower order at 132-6, consistently bowling short to bad-ass Brad Haddin while letting Mitchell Johnson free his arms. The game was well and truly up as England were not ready for the flaying arms of Johnson with a ball in his hand. He didn’t bowl it to the left or to the right, but very fast and straight. Aus won by a monumental 381 runs.

6) England give way to the Australians in disarray: 2010/11

Australia were in a shambolic state pre-series with only one win from the previous eight matches, and out of form and injured bodies everywhere. England went into battle with a settled side (pre-reintegration KP) and genuine hope.
They were promptly bowled out for 260 on the first day as Peter Siddle took a hat-trick. When skipper Strauss was out third ball wafting to gully, some makeshift sick buckets must have been fetched at considerable haste just after midnight UK time.
Australia racked up 481 in reply. Fortunately, Cook, Strauss and Trott batted out 152 overs for 500 to claim a draw. Bar their Perth waterhole, Australia then melted away like chocolate in the desert. Anyone remember Xavier Doherty? Anyone? 24 years of hurt finally came to an end.

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