Ashes Controversies Courtesy Player’s Comments

November 24, 2017 11:03 pm

Doesn’t it feel like we just had the Ashes yesterday? And already, we have on our hands another chapter of this historical drama. This could be one of the more memorable ones purely because of the brand of cricket we’ve seen both these teams play recently. Australia has always been considered to play the aggressive no-holds-barred style of cricket. And if the England-New Zealand test and ODI series offered us a taste of how England intend to play under Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace, the upcoming Ashes is going to be one scrumptious meal. Like every other Ashes, we can expect the usual pyrotechnics, with the bat, ball, and banter. So, let’s go back in time and revisit some of the Ashes Controversies accounted due to some memorable comments.

Ashes Controversies

“If we don’t beat you, we’ll knock your bloody heads off.”

ICC Cricket

Former England fast bowler Bill Voce’s not-so-kind words to Australian batsman, Vic Richardson before the start of the infamous Bodyline series. Voce and fellow fast bowler, Harold Larwood, along with captain Douglas Jardine, devised the notorious leg-theory.

The fast-bowling duo was made to bowl on leg stump and make sure the ball rose into the body, with a carefully placed cordon of close-in fielders ready to pounce on any wicket-taking opportunity.

This epitomised Jardine’s aversion to the Australians. He noted, “I’ve not traveled 6,000 miles to make friends. I’m here to win the Ashes.” This was one of the earliest Ashes controversies that was triggered by a player’s comment.

“A cricket tour in Australia would be the most delightful period in your life … if you were deaf.”

ICC Cricket

Harold Larwood, England’s primary weapon during the Bodyline series, perfectly describes the cricket milieu during a tour to Australia. The crowd can be quite vocal.Though England thoroughly deserved every sledge and curse word thrown at them during the Bodyline series, Australia is not the most ideal and friendly conditions for touring parties. Ask Virat Kohli. The English were not mincing any words with these comments and that is why this makes our list of Ashes controversies triggered by player’s comments.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if Thomson doesn’t get ya, Lillee must.”

The Guardian

A punch line from a cartoon in a Sydney Telegraph, 1975, describes the fear the fast-bowling duo induced in batsmen. Imagine facing this terrifying twosome (Don’t go by the accompanying picture) on the fast and bouncy Brisbane and Perth pitches!

Not an easy proposition. The 1974–75 Ashes series will forever be remembered for the unremitting sledging and Lillee-Thomson bullying. The Australians caused one of the most creative Ashes controversies with some unique poetry.

“A fart competing with thunder.”


Graham Gooch makes a brutally honest appraisal of England’s fortunes in the 1990-91 Ashes down under.

Led by the ruthlessly determined Allan Border, Australia regained the Ashes with an efficiently orchestrated 3-0 demolition job. Thus, began the utter domination by the Aussies until the 2005 Ashes.

“How anyone can spin a ball the width of Gatting boggles the mind.”

The inimitable Martin Johnson, writing for The Independent, on Shane Warne’s magical ball of the century.

A jest at Mike Gatting’s stocky figure, it also recounts the amount of spin Warne was able to attain and fox one of the better players of spin bowling at the time.

“They’d win the first four Tests and we’d try to nick one at the end when they were all drunk.”

The Guardian

The smooth-spoken Nasser Hussain makes a blithe joke about how tough it was for him and England during Australia’s era of dominance. He quips at Australia’s premature celebrations after having won the Ashes and the resultant revelry.

He modestly claims the only reason England could go one up in the final series scoreline, is because the Australians would be inebriated.

“All the palaver caused me to burn my toast”

The Guardian
Duncan Fletcher, England coach during the 2005 Ashes, makes light of the aftermath of the controversial Ricky Ponting run out in Trent Bridge, 2005. Ponting, furious and dismayed, harangued the England dressing room for using substitute fielders liberally.

Though England was guilty of the offense in many instances, they were innocent on this particular occasion as Simon Jones was veritably injured. Fletcher attributed his burnt toast to Ponting’s aggravated rhetoric.

“He who looks at the clouds takes his eyes off the plough.”

The Guardian

Wily offspinner and occasional wordsmith, Graeme Swann, cautions England about the risks of taking the eyes off the prize.

He, eloquently, talks about not depending on weather and good luck to win the Ashes. Though England got help through the rain on more than one occasion during the Ashes in 2009 and 2010, Swann admonished that Mother Nature is an unpredictable, fickle being.

“Many times I have cursed the rain in Manchester, but today I would take it home to meet my grandma and marry it.”

Daily Mail

On this occasion (Ashes 2013 in England), Graeme Swann was very appreciative of Mother Nature, who rained down upon Manchester to hand England a draw and one hand on the prize.

Australia, though, seemed to wonder: What if?

“Get ready for a broken ******* arm.”

Daily Mail

Michael Clarke’s precaution to James Anderson was an incident which forbade the arrival of what was to come in the 2013-14 Ashes in Australia. Mitch-HELL hath no fury like a fast bowler scorned.

Johnson, having completely healed from his woeful 2009 Ashes, wreaked havoc on the English batsmen. Clarke’s candid warning did not sit well with many viewers or the ICC, but it was a fair assessment of what was to come.

“Three types of England dismissal appear to be hook, Lyon and stinker.”

Daily Mail

British-Indian comedian Paul Sinha perfectly surmises the three modes of dismissal of English batsmen during the 2013 whitewash.

The batsmen got out on account of intimidation through pace and the resultant psychological blows. 

“I am looking forward to the Ashes. Hence I had been predicting 5-0, but I have changed my prediction. I am now predicting 10-0 because Australia is already 5-0 up from the last tour.”

The Guardian

No list is complete without McGrath’s characteristic, facetious call on the Ashes scoreline. It’s 5-0 every time.

One could say that he is being overconfident. Or that he is being delusional. But one should also understand the Australian attitude towards the game. They’re here to win every game and they want England to know it.

Here’s hoping for another memorable, well-fought Ashes and the consequent sledges and indelible memories.

“The history, the pride that is at stake. As soon as you step on that line it’s war,”

Australia vice-captain David Warner recently commented liking the upcoming Magellan Ashes series to war. But he maintains the hosts needing to channel some “inward anger” towards England this summer.

Warner raised eyebrows last week with the comments. He earned the ire of a host of former England players including Marcus Trescothick and ex-Test skippers Geoff Boycott and Michael Vaughan. This is one of the more recent Ashes controversies to rock the sport.

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