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Memorable Ashes Moments: Harmison sends down woeful opening wide as England's defence wilts

241   //    18 Nov 2017, 01:15 IST
Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison

As Australia and England prepare to battle it out once again for possession of the Ashes urn, we look back at the top moments from the last 10 series.

The latest instalment of our rundown takes us to the 2006-07 series, when a wayward opening delivery set the tone for a crushing return to dominance by Australia.


November 23, 2006: First Test, The Gabba

The urn finally back in their grasp, the 2006-07 Ashes was England's moment to assert a new-found dominance on the rivalry with a first victory since in Australia since 1987.

But, with one delivery, the tone was set for a very different kind of series, which proved to be another chastening Ashes tour for England.

Steve Harmison had played a starring role in England's thrilling 2005 triumph, taking 17 wickets in that series, but the first ball of the series he delivered on the opening day at the Gabba was in stark contrast to anything he produced more than a year earlier.

Whereas Harmison had hit three batsmen on the first morning at Lord's in 2005, his opener in Brisbane never came close to troubling Justin Langer.

Instead it skidded off the pitch and flew into the hands of Andrew Flintoff at second slip, drawing raucous ironic cheers from the home crowd as umpire Steve Bucknor made a signal for a wide that was barely necessary.


Australia were off the mark and, from there, set about producing the most crushing of revenge missions. They surged to 602-9 declared in the first innings and eventually completed a 277-run triumph.

Four more similarly emphatic successes followed as Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne brought the curtain down on their respective glittering careers with a 5-0 whitewash.

Later, in his autobiography, Harmison rejected claims his wide had set the tone for a miserable series.

"That ball in Brisbane on the 2006-07 Ashes tour didn't set the tone," he wrote. "We weren't good enough to beat Australia, whether that first ball of the series happened or not.

"Those people who say that ball set the tone for the whole series are the same as those who said I set the tone in England when I hit three batsmen on the opening morning at Lord's – we got beat by 239 runs."

Maybe the delivery wasn't a tone-setter. But in any series, not least an Ashes series, you need to start on the front foot. Harmison did the opposite, and he and England would have to wait more than two years to make amends.

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