Thursday, 11 November 2010

Omens: Australia v England at the Gabba

Stat time and a look at the recent history of Ashes matches at the Gabba, traditional venue for the first test of the series. Hmmm...a thoroughly woeful time for the tourists...

Much has been made of the first ball of the last Ashes series in Australia in 2006. There were high hopes that Harmison could repeat his aggressive bowling of the 2005 series and put Australia immediately on the back foot. There were concerns that instead his wayward, erratic delivieries could seriously hinder England's chances. And it was the concerns rather than the hopes that were realised as he flung that first ball straight into captain Flintoff's big mitts at second slip. A wide and then some. Only one ball but the trend had been set and we all know the endless capitulations that ensued for England. A 5-0 drubbing at the hands of some of the finest players to grace the game.

Then we can go back to 2002 and yet another disastrous day for the poms. Not only did Ponting and Hayden rack up centuries as Australia lost only two wickets on day one, but also it was the scene of Simon Jones' horrific knee injury. Again there was that traditional sinking feeling. Eyebrows raised too about Nasser Hussain's decision to send the Aussies in after winning the toss.

In 1986 Gatting won the toss, chose to bat, and then saw his Botham inspired team go on to win not only the match but the series. Bat first here and England might not only win the game but the urn into the bargain. Too simplistic maybe but Strauss will surely put the pads on if the coin falls the right way for him this time out. Batting first seems to work for the Aussies. They have batted first for the last 4 Ashes matches at the ground and they have been able to declare their second innings each time, such has been their dominance.

The last time England managed to avoid defeat in Brisbane was 1998. Didn't bat first but Mark Butcher scored a century, reinforcing how crucial it is that your top six are in good nick.

If we go back even further the importance of this first test is even more striking. Since the Second World War the Gabba has hosted the first test in every series aside from 1982, when Perth was the first venue and Brisbane the second. In this period the only team to win at the Gabba and fail to win the series was Australia in 1954. Despite a thumping, innings victory in the first test it was England who took the ultimate spoils 3-1.

In a total of 16 Ashes encounters at the Gabba from 1946 to the present day, England have won a grand total of 2 tests, in 1978 and 1986, and managed to draw a further 4. 10 wins for the men in the baggy green caps? History is certainly against Strauss' men.

So that's a brief look back into the archives. Let's back that up with some Gabba only stats since that last England success:

Last England win: 1986
Last time England batted first: 1990
Last England centurion: Mark Butcher, 1998
Last time England player took 5-fer: Alan Mullaly, 1998
Australia total runs in this period: 3827
England total runs in this period: 2816

Year by year since 1986:


Australia win by 277 runs
Toss: Australia who bat
Australia 602 and 202-2 declared
England 157 and 370
End of day one score: Australia 346-3
Centurions - Ponting and Langer
5-fers - McGrath
Series: Australia 5-0


Australia win by 384 runs
Toss: England who field
Australia 492 and 296-5 declared
England 325 and 79
End of day one score: Australia 364-2
Centurions - Hayden (2), Ponting
5-fers - 0
Series: Australia 4-1


Match drawn
Toss: Australia who bat
Australia 485 and 237-3 declared
England 375 and 179-6
End of day one score: Australia 264-5
Centurions - Steve Waugh, Healy, Butcher, Slater
5-fers - Mullaly, McGrath
Series: Australia 3-1


Australia win by 184 runs
Toss: Australia who bat
Australia 426 and 248-8 declared
England 167 and 323
End of day one score: Australia 329-4
Centurions: Slater, Mark Waugh
5-fers: McDermott, Warne
Series: Australia 3-1


Australia win by 10 wickets
Toss: Australia who field
England 194 and 114
Australia 152 and 157-0
End of day one score: Australia 16-0 (England all out on day one)
Centurions - 0
5-fers - Alderman
Series: Australia 3-0


England win by 7 wickets
Toss: Australia who field
England 456 and 77-3
Australia 248 and 282
End of day one score: England 198-2
Centurions - Botham, Marsh
5-fers - Dilley, Emburey
Series: England 2-1

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