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Ashes 2017-18: 8 times England won Tests after losing the urn

Yabba
ANALYST
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558   //    27 Dec 2017, 13:57 IST

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Partners in crime: Lillee and Thommo

England, much to the disappointment of cricket fans all over the world, have surrendered The Ashes even before the Boxing Day Test could start. They have been whitewashed multiple times on Australian soil but there are occasions from the past which will probably give them hope of winning a Test in the ongoing series. Australia, over the years, once the series gets pocketed, has lost Test matches.

Let's chronicle the occasions when England won a Test or two towards the end of an Ashes series when the urn was already lost.


Ashes 1974-75:

In the first Test in Brisbane, Australia unleashed their new fast bowler Jeff Thomson. Adding to England's woes was the news that Dennis Lillee was fully fit after a serious back injury which threatened to end his career. The pitch at Woolloongabba was hastily prepared after a storm and Australia's fast men took full advantage of it. Tony Greig scored a fearless century but nothing else went right for England. Two very fast balls effected in Dennis Amiss breaking his thumb and John Edrich breaking his hand. Australia won by 166 runs as England only managed to score that many in their second innings.

In the Perth Test, England were forced to recall two 42-year olds: Colin Cowdrey and Fred Titmus. They batted well, and so too did Alan Knott, but could make no difference to the final outcome. Thomson picked up seven wickets, Greg Chappell held on to seven catches, and Australia won comfortably by 9 wickets. Thomson, besides taking all those wickets, caused further difficulties for England by inflicting agonising blows on Brian Luckhurst's hand and David Lloyd's abdomen.

On Boxing Day, Australia had put England in before 77,165 spectators. England still had no answers against Thomson's fast bowling and were all out for 242. Bob Willis did the damage when Australia batted.

He took a five-for as the hosts finished their first innings on 241. IN England's second innings, Dennis Amiss batted splendidly before being dismissed on 90, only two runs short of Bob Simpson's record aggregate of 1381 runs in Tests in a calendar year. England managed to score 244, thus setting Australia a target of 246 to win the third Test. It was very tense at times but the climax was reached when Australia needed 55 runs in the final hour with four wickets in hand.

The anticlimax soon followed: Marsh and Walker scoring only seven runs off seven overs from Underwood and Titmus. England took the new ball and Australia once again started to score freely. 14 were needed off the last 2 overs. Eventually, both played out the last over for a draw- Australia eight runs short and England two wickets away from victory.

There was startling news before the start of the fourth Test in Sydney: Mike Denness, the England captain, had dropped himself owing to poor form. Greg Chappell batted beautifully in both innings and Thomson continued picking up wickets as Australia set England a target of 400 to win the match in 8.5 hours.

John Edrich, the stand-in captain, had two ribs cracked from the first ball from Lillee on the last day, which forced him to the casualty ward. He returned, though, and held fast for a brave 33 not out. Fletcher was hit on the head and the Mallett took full advantage of the havoc created by Lille and Thommo. He picked up four cheap wickets as Australia won by 171 runs with 5.3 overs in hand. The record attendance of 178,027 witnessed Australia regain the Ashes, four years after losing them on the same ground.

The fifth Test in Adelaide was another walk in the park for Australia. Derek Underwood picked up eleven wickets but could not stop his team from going down by 163 runs. Lillee picked up eight wickets and helped his team complete a victory with much time to spare despite the first day being lost through rain.

Jeff Thomson went to play some tennis during the rest day of the fifth Test and injured his shoulder, thus making him unavailable for the final Test at Melbourne. Peter Lever blew off the Australian top order on a humid morning. He kept the ball up and let it swing at pace, much to the dismay of the Aussies. More good news were to follow for England as Lillee retired with a foot injury only after six overs in the England first innings. Max Walker toiled hard and picked up a 8-for but, overall, the bowling was pretty ordinary. England took a massive 377-run lead at the end of their first innings. Greg Chappell scored another fine century in Australia's second innings but could not help Australia avoid innings defeat. England had won a match at long last, weeks after surrendering the Ashes.

Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson created havoc as Australia won four out of the first five Tests. In the final Test of the series, England bounced back by registering an innings victory. Tony Greig's inspirational performance, aided by the solid batting of Mike Denness and Keith Fletcher, powered England to victory in a series in which almost nothing went right for them .

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