After all the talk of securing the Ashes before Christmas and going through the tour unbeaten, England certainly came crashing back down to earth in Perth. Indeed, the collapse from 78/0 to 187 all out in the first innings was so disappointing that Icarus himself could have been the pilot of England’s doom. And it got worse in the second innings too with the capitulation for 123 reminding us that being an England cricket fan can be tough.
In fact, with alarming regularity, England’s batting has a tendency to brittleness and being prone to collapse like a house of cards in a force nine gale. On far too many occasions in our 30 years of following England expectation and anticipation can quickly turn into crushing disappointment, misery and despair.
Here is a dirty dozen of England’s worst batting performances over this time. Unfortunately, it is not an exhaustive list but merely one compiled of those disasters that come most easily to mind.
1. 51 all out, 2nd innings, vs West Indies, 1st Test, Kingston, 2009
In an inauspicious start for Andy Flower in his first match in charge, England started their 2ndinnings 74 runs behind. Just 33.2 overs later England were all out for 51. Coincidentally, this was almost a role reversal of what had happened at the same ground five years before when Steve Harmison, with 7 for 12 had bowled the West Indies out for 47.
2. 46 all out, 2nd innings, vs West Indies, 3rd Test, Port of Spain, 1994
Having played well throughout the match, England had been set 194 to win and were confident even though they needed to get the better of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh to reach their target. Nineteen overs of hostile fast bowling later, England were dismissed for a paltry 46, Ambrose with 6 for 24 and Walsh 3 for 16.
3. 79 all out, 2nd innings, vs Australia, 1st Test, Brisbane, 2003
After Nasser Hussain’s bizarre decision to give Australia first use of a flat Gabba track, England were always chasing this game especially with Matthew Hayden scoring a century in each innings. Set an unlikely 463 to win, England were demolished for 79. And Mark Butcher scored 40 of this dismal total!
4. 175 all out, 2nd innings, vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Multan, 2005
After dominating this match, with Marcus Trescothick scoring 193 in England’s 1stinnings and Andrew Flintoff taking match figures of 8 for 156, England were set 198 to win on the last day of the 1stTest. However, they fell 22 runs short to the express pace of Shoaib Akhtar and the wily spin of Danish Kaneira. The balloon of optimism from the 2005 Ashes success had been burst after only one match.
5. 129 all out, 2nd innings, vs Australia, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2006
On the flattest of flat pitches England had scored 551 for 6 in their 1stinnings, with Paul Collingwood scoring a double century. Although Australia had responded with 513 all out, surely England couldn’t lose from here? Even the Australians, Shane Warne apart, expected the game to meander to a draw. However, after a shocking and timid display England were bowled out for 129 in 73 overs. Australia won by six wickets, and England, with Flintoff crying as he bowled, never recovered and lost the series 5-0.
6. 82 all out, 1st innings & 93 all out, 2ndinnings, vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Christchurch, 1983
Not one but two dismal batting performances in the same match. The nadir of a shambolic tour to the land of the long white cloud in 1983 was the 2ndTest at Christchurch, where after New Zealand made 307 in their 1st innings, England were shot for 82 and 93, following on, to lose by an innings. Richard Hadlee had match figures of 8 for 44.
7. 162 all out, 2ndinnings, vs New Zealand, 4th Test, The Oval, 1999
In this fourth and deciding Test of the series, England suffered the ignominy of defeat against a New Zealand side that had previously been ranked the worst team in Test cricket. Chasing 245 to win, England slumped from 123 for 2 to 162 all out to replace the Kiwis at the bottom of the rankings. Fortunately, Nasser Hussain recovered from this inauspicious start to his captaincy to help forge a more resilient England side in tandem with Duncan Fletcher.
8. 203 all out, 1st innings, vs South Africa, 2ndTest, Headingley, 2008
England were shot out for 203 by a South African side that had just had to save the 1stTest at Lords. England, who had brought the hitherto unknown Darren Pattinson in for Collingwood, were blown away in 52.3 overs. South Africa responded with 522 and England eventually lost by ten wickets. This defeat and another one in the following Test at Edgbaston led to the resignation of Ashes hero Michael Vaughan as skipper.
9. 222 all out, 2nd innings, vs Pakistan, 3rd Test, The Oval, 2010
Having recovered from 94/7 in the first innings thanks to Matt Prior’s 84, England started their second innings 75 behind Pakistan. However, with Alastair Cook hitting a career saving hundred, England were 81 ahead with only two wickets down. Then Cook’s demise led to a sorry procession and the last seven wickets fell for 28 and despite a late flurry of wickets, Pakistan won by 4 wickets.
10. 155 all out, 1st innings, vs Australia, 1st Test, Lords, 2005
After bowling the Aussies out for 190, with Harmison taking 5 for 43, England collapsed to 21 for 5 thanks to their nemesis Glenn McGrath. Although the Aussies went on to win this battle by 239 runs, England won the war, the adulation, the Trafalgar Square celebrations and their MBEs.
11. 180 all out, 1st innings and 169 all out, 2nd innings vs South Africa, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 2010
Having escaped by the skin of their teeth in the previous test at Cape Town, England went into the final test at The Wanderers needing just a draw to win the series. Unfortunately as at the WACA, the pitch had pace and bounce, and when Andrew Strauss was out to the first ball of the match, England’s defeat seemed inevitable. They weren’t helped by Daryl Harper’s ineptitude in the video umpire’s chair enabling Graeme Smith to be reprieved on the way to a hundred, but it was their inability to face the pace barrage from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel - who snared 14 wickets between them - that hastened their doom.
12. 102 all out, 1st innings, vs Australia, 4thTest, Headingley, 2009
With all the talk before hand being about how a win would enable England to regain the Ashes (remind anyone of anything?), a confident Strauss elected to bat on a bowler friendly Headingley surface. But, fears that in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, the England batting was totally reliant on Strauss came to pass. With Stuart Broad batting too high at seven in the absence of Flintoff, and the selectors continuing to rely on an out of his depth Ravi Bopara, at number three, Australia roared back into the series. Happily for England, they bounced back to win the series and the Ashes in the next test at The Oval – can they repeat the trick in Melbourne?
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep