Summer Of Cricket
Top Tens Ashes Special
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Top Ten - Ashes controversies

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A look at the biggest England-Australia talking points

Clashes between England and Australia always serve up their fair share of talking points. We take a look at the top ten moments and incidents which have taken up thousands of columns inches over the years.

1932-33 - BODYLINE

Cricket and politics collided with almost devastating consequences for Anglo-Australian relations. England captain Douglas Jardine took his side into the lions' den and led them back with the urn after adopting their controversial 'bodyline' bowling tactic. Designed mainly to limit the threat posed by Australian star Don Bradman, it consisted largely of fast, aggressive bowling aimed to hurt rather than deceive the batsman.

Having seen his wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield knocked unconscious by a ball from England bowler Harold Larwood, opposing captain Bill Woodfull claimed: "There are two sides out there. One is playing cricket and one is not."

Jardine was unmoved by suggestions that his tactics were unsporting, and the visitors won the series 4-1. The incidents, though, prompted a rethink of the rules as the MCC moved to try and stamp out further instances of bodyline bowling. Larwood, meanwhile, was a victim of the diplomacy efforts and never played for England again.


Considered to be one of the best bowlers ever, Dennis Lillee was hardly immune to controversial moments. Yet despite being acknowledged as "the complete bowler", it was a batting incident which puts him in the list.

When Lillee came out to bat during the first 1979-80 Ashes Test, his chosen equipment provoked a reaction from England captain Mike Brearley. Lillee was sporting an aluminium bat and was adamant that he would play on despite the umpires insisting he change his chosen blade. It was not until his captain Greg Chappell intervened that Lillee conceded - albeit petulantly, hurling his old bat to the floor in disgust.


Never has a substitution been questioned as much as that of Gary Pratt during England's successful 2005 Ashes series. Pratt, a barely-known Durham youngster, was called into action during the fourth Test as fast bowler Simon Jones limped off. He was straight into the thick of the action as he ran Australia captain Ricky Ponting out, two runs short of his half-century. Ponting was looking set for a big score when the momentum swung England's way thanks to the sharp fielding of Pratt.

Ponting, unhappy with what he perceived to be an unusually high number of sub fielders during the series, stormed from the pitch pointing and mouthing at the England balcony and ended up being fined 75% of his match fee as a result. England went on to win a famous series 2-1, to regain the Ashes for the first time in a generation.


Selectors are prone to being criticised by sections of the press or supporters but they would not expect to come under attack, literally, from a fellow selector - but that is exactly what happened before the 1912 Ashes series.

Australian captain Clem Hill and fellow player Peter McAlister had enjoyed a frosty relationship in the past. It turned nasty, though, when McAlister was sent to act as a spy on the players - who did not like him - by the Australian Board of Control.

The board and players had different opinions on who should manage their squad for the 1912 series - and after a slanging match had ensued, Hill gave McAlister the punch he had in his view "been asking for all night".


England's selectors were prone to taking gambles if things were not going their way and after being whitewashed the year before and losing the first Test of the 1921 series, they rang the changes.

This prompted captain Johnny Douglas to question the "damnable side of picnickers" chosen. The team went on to lose the second Test by lunch on day three, and Douglas was dropped for the next match.

England were spared a second consecutive whitewash as rain put paid to the final two Test matches - but their humiliation and Australia's dominance had already been brutally established.


During the third Test of the 1975 Ashes series play was stopped for an unusual and regrettable reason - as the covers were taken off the wicket to reveal that someone had vandalised it during the night.

Going into the last day's play, the game was poised tantalisingly - with Australia on 220 for three chasing 445 for victory. However, before the crowd started to arrive, Headingley groundsman George Cawthray found that lumps had been dug out of the pitch at the Rugby Ground End.

More worryingly, the holes which were left were filled with oil - and the match was subsequently abandoned after the police were called to deal with the situation.


With English cricket on a high after their series victory in 2005, Andrew Flintoff's side ventured to Australia a year later with the brief of retaining their crown. What followed, though, was not in the script.

The tone was set alarmingly with the very first delivery of the series, when England's great fast-bowling hope Steve Harmison propelled the ball so far wide of off-stump that his new captain Flintoff had to stop it at second slip.

Ricky Ponting's Australian team had been heavily criticised after relinquishing the Ashes and the team were determined to prove a point. They spectacularly did this by inflicting the first whitewash in Ashes history since 1920-21.

The embarrassment caused the England and Wales Cricket Board to form a committee to look at their national side's performances during the series and the press to bemoan the injury-enforced absence of 2005 captain Michael Vaughan.


Despite cricket fans having a reputation for sportsmanship, there have been incidents which England fans would want to forget, notably during the Ashes series of 1982-83.

Terry Alderman, nemesis of English batsmen for so long, was slapped by an England fan who had entered the field of play. As a natural reaction, the seamer chased after the fan and caught him.

In the process of tackling the intruder, Alderman dislocated his own shoulder and was ruled out of cricket for a year.


With England following on at Headingley, bookmakers put the odds of a home victory at 500/1. Dennis Lillee and wicketkeeper Rod Marsh promptly put a small wager on just that happening - before Ian Botham and Bob Willis tore through their opponents to land the pair a £7,500 jackpot.

While there was no suggestion that the pair sacrificed the match in order to make massive personal gain, the Australian camp was left to defend its integrity.


The 1970-71 Ashes series spelt the end of Australian captain Bill Lawry's international career, in controversial circumstances.

After the first three Tests, neither team had won a match - and when England won the next by 299 runs, Lawry's leadership was called into question.

The Melbourne-born captain had decided that a defensive approach was the right one to take, a view shared by few of his countrymen. The last straw was yet another draw in the fifth Test, with Lawry scoring just 10 and 21 runs. Lawry was then sacked, although he did not find out until his batting partner Keith Stackpole told him after hearing the news on the radio.

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