Is this England’s worst away Ashes in past 20 years?

Is this England’s worst away Ashes in past 20 years?


After two years of planning, England’s Ashes campaign in Australia is over after 12 days.

So far, England have lost a wicket to the first ball of the series, been bowled out for 68 and have looked confused when it comes to selection.

And there are still two matches to go.

BBC Sport looks at England’s five most recent Ashes defeats in Australia and asks: is this the worst one? Plus vote for which one you think ranks as the worst.

2002-03 – Australia 4-1 England

Nasser Hussain and Steve Waugh at the toss
“We’ll have a bowl, Steve…”

Margins of defeat: 384 runs; innings and 51 runs; innings and 48 runs; five wickets. England won fifth Test by 225 runs.

The series began with one of the most ruinous decisions in Test history when England captain Nasser Hussain sent Australia in to bat on a flat pitch at the Gabba – a call so bad it perhaps haunted Joe Root’s decision not to bowl in Brisbane this year.

The hosts reached 364-2 on day one, England fast bowler Simon Jones ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and things got worse from there.

After being bowled out for 79 to end the first Test, they were beaten by an innings in Adelaide and Perth to ensure the Ashes were lost, before being made to follow on in Melbourne, although they did at least make Australia bat again there.

There was minor salvation in Sydney as centuries from Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan led England to a comfortable win. Vaughan hit three hundreds and 633 runs in total to win the player-of-the-series award, England squandering part of the greatest run of form of his career.

2006-07 – Australia 5-0 England

England fast bowler Steve Harmison (right) sends the first ball of the 2006-07 Ashes to second slip
Steve Harmison’s remarkable first-ball wide set the tone for a torturous series for England

Margins of defeat: 277 runs; six wickets; 206 runs; innings and 99 runs; 10 wickets

From the glory of England’s first Ashes win in 18 years in 2005 to the ignominy of this 5-0 whitewash as a vengeful Australia dismantled the tourists.

This was another contender for the most infamous start to an away Ashes as England fast bowler Steve Harmison sent down a first-ball wide to Andrew Flintoff, captaining in place of the injured Michael Vaughan, at second slip.

Even when Paul Collingwood hit a career-best 206 as England made 551-6 declared in the second Test at Adelaide, the tourists crumbled to an astonishing defeat.

Ruthless revenge was a fitting swansong for the retiring Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

2013-14 – Australia 5-0 England

England batter Michael Carberry has his bat broken during the Ashes
England were blown away by Mitchell Johnson in 2013-14

Margins of defeat: 381 runs; 218 runs; 150 runs; eight wickets; 281 runs.

After making a promising start with the ball in Brisbane, England’s tour went from bad to worse to atrocious. Tormentor-in-chief Mitchell Johnson blew them away with electric fast bowling, taking 37 wickets, while wicketkeeper Brad Haddin seemed to exist solely to throw the bat around and diminish any faint hopes of an England fightback.

Ben Stokes’ maiden Test century was the one highlight for England. Jonathan Trott flew home after the first Test because of a long-standing stress-related condition, while Graeme Swann retired following England’s defeat in Perth.

England failed to pass 200 six times, with the batters notching up 16 ducks across five Tests.

The fallout lasted for some time after, with Kevin Pietersen sacked, reintegrated and then dropped again as an England side who had triumphed memorably in 2010-11 disintegrated dramatically.

2017-18 – Australia 4-0 England

Australia celebrate winning the Ashes 4-0
Only a draw in the fourth Test stopped Australia wheeling out the high five hand sign

Margins of defeat: 10 wickets; 120 runs; innings and 41 runs; innings and 23 runs. Fourth Test was drawn.

This one hurt more because of the moments of genuine hope.

Again, England started strongly in Brisbane before Nathan Lyon’s run-out of James Vince on the eve of the first day sparked what would become an all too familiar collapse. Steve Smith, seemingly incapable of being dismissed, racked up 687 runs across five Tests, while Pat Cummins claimed 23 wickets.

Only a poor pitch in Melbourne and Alastair Cook’s mammoth 244 not out stopped Australia claiming a clean sweep.

Off-field issues also marred the tour, with Jonny Bairstow’s friendly ‘headbutt’ of Cameron Bancroft and Ben Duckett pouring a pint over James Anderson’s head sparking glee among the Australian press.

2021-22 – Australia 3-0 England (with two to play)

Margins of defeat: Nine wickets; 275 runs; innings and 14 runs.

England arrived in Australia having won just two of their past 10 Tests and with a batting line-up liable to fall over if someone sneezed next to it. A lack of match practice because of rain did not help matters, and England arrived at the Gabba more undercooked than usual.

In an instantly iconic moment, England’s Rory Burns was bowled first ball by Mitchell Starc – and things continued to unravel.

England have yet to make 300 in an innings – in fact, they have only passed 200 twice in six attempts and no batter has hit a ton. Their selections have been muddled, with left-arm spinner Jack Leach thrown in at Brisbane despite spending the summer carrying the drinks.

The nadir came in Melbourne, with England bowled out for just 68 before the lunch break on the third day of the third Test to lose the Ashes. The previously unheralded Scott Boland finished with 6-7 as England’s campaign completely imploded.

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