85 Days Until The Ashes…
In the English summer of 1985 an Australian team ripped apart by rebel squads, lost to England 3-1. Although the teams will obviously be more settled this time around, like anything in cricket, it always pays to look to the past to understand the present.
As we look on in horror at the betting turmoil that is engulfing our great game, it is not so unbelievable to think that cricket could have suffered from great turmoil before. This was certainly the case with the rebel tour’s of South Africa led by former Australian captain Kim Hughes. Taking a team that included the likes of Terry Alderman, Rodney Hogg and Carl Rackerman, Hughes’ un-sanctioned team was always going to destabilise the official Australian team that travelled to England to try and recover the Ashes under Allan Border.
Led by the eternally divine David Gower, England were packed full of batting prowess including Graham Gootch, Mike Gatting and Allan Lamb. Throw in Sir Ian Botham for good measure, and that is a formidable side. Australia on the other hand was obviously affected by the rebel tour, but did still include the likes of Jeff Thompson, Geoff Lawson and Keppler Wessels. At the same time young players such as David Boon and Simon O’Donnell were trying to prove their worth.
The series last six tests, and after England and Australia had fairly narrow wins in the first two matches, the next two were drawn. The last two tests at Edgbaston and The Oval were another matter with England inflicting heavy innings defeats on a tiring Australian side. At Edgbaston David Gower made an imperious 215, to help his side post 595 before Australia was skittled in their second innings for 142. Again at The Oval Gower made a century, along with Graham Gooch’s magnificent 196. Australia was again made to look silly with totals of 241 and 129, with only their captain making a stand.
England was in the middle of a powerful era and certainly showed their prowess in this series. However, it is Australia that is of most interest in the current context. Like Pakistan today, Australia was almost ripped apart by an internal crisis that threatened to destroy the Australian test side. History tells us that they managed to rebuild into one of the greatest sides in the modern era, who knows whether Pakistan can do the same.
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