77 Days Until The Ashes…
For number 77 in our Ashes 100-1 countdown we go back to the 1977 series in England, which was played out against the background of the Packer affair, news of which broke as the tourists arrived. An Australian side beset by infighting and disharmony was beaten 3-1 by an England team captained by Mike Brearley, who had replaced Tony Grieg at the helm after the latter was sacked for his heavy involvement with Packer.
Other than Packer and the impending arrival of World Series Cricket, the two other notable aspects of the series was the test debut of a certain Ian Botham, who made an immediate impact taking a five for in his first match in the third test at Trent Bridge. Botham was to make an even bigger impression four years later – see 81 – Botham’s Ashes.
But for us (and certainly our father), the most memorable aspect of the 1977 series was the return of Geoff Boycott to the England side after a self-imposed three year hiatus. Boycott the player was pretty much the same as Boycott the commentator – difficult to work with, self-obsessed, did things his own way but at times brilliant.
He made his comeback at Trent Bridge and achieved the feat of batting on all five days of the match. In typical Boycott style, he made an inauspicious start running out local hero Derek Randall as England slipped to 82 for five. Then in a double hundred partnership with Alan Knott, Boycott scored 107 off 315 balls and then topped it off with an unbeaten 80 in the second innings as England won by seven wickets.
Even better was to follow in the next test match at Boycott’s home ground of Headingley where he reached the landmark of 100 first-class hundreds with a mammoth innings of 191. England won by an innings and the Ashes had been regained. The final test at The Oval was marred by rain and Boycott finished the series with 442 runs from five innings at a phenomenal average of 147.33. The Reverse Sweep’s father is still going on about it to this day.
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