Ashes Panel recalls fun, comic and controversial past Australian tours
Last Updated: 19/11/17 12:50pm
The extra spark of the Ashes can often blur the thin line between the comic and the controversial.
With this in mind, our Ashes Panel got together to look back at some of the more memorable incidents that have raised a laugh or the temperature - depending on your point of view.
It's over to former captains David Gower, Sir Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain for their picks...
David: A ham lunch
I remember becoming aware of a piglet running frenetically in front of the big scoreboard on The Gabba outfield just before lunch on the second day of the second Test on the 1982/83 tour. It was darting this way and that, and stewards were diving left, right and centre to try and trap it but they couldn't because it was moving too quickly.
It had a Union Jack taped to its tail and on one side was painted the name 'Gatting' and on the other was the name 'Hemmings'; for some reason they'd obviously gone for the slightly porkier of our team to christen this pig!
Ten minutes later they managed to catch it and removed it from the field. The story came out that it had been brought in by a couple of vets in an Esky or a cooler box. The guy at the gate had said 'what's this mate?' and they'd replied 'it's lunch' and been waved through. It turned out that our ingenious duo had sedated the piglet to get it into the ground and then given it the antidote 15 minutes before lunch.
The piglet woke up with the antidote coursing around its veins and shot off like a bullet. Far from having lunch with it, these guys had pulled off a cracking wheeze. At the end of the day Gatt took it well; as I recall Eddie wasn't quite so pleased to be implicated!
Athers: Winging it
David initially asked me to go on his fly-by on the 1990/91 Ashes tour but even at that early stage in my Test career I thought it probably wasn't a good thing to do, so I politely declined and scurried away to the nets! We were playing against Queensland out on the Gold Coast at a place called the Carrara Oval and as the game went on we knew David was up there somewhere.
The next thing I knew he and John Morris, who had accepted the goggles in my absence, were flying as good as through the ground's floodlights. We all thought it was tremendously funny and as they came over the ground we all pointed the plane out to our manager Peter Lush, who thought it was a tremendous hoot as well until he realised that two of his players were up there.
Then he rather lost his sense of humour and proceeded to slap a fine on the pair once they had landed safely and made their way back. In a sense the episode gave an insight into the tension that surrounded that tour. David felt the tour was lacking a bit of fun and therefore set out trying to inject some life into it, but that didn't go down well with Graham Gooch. When I look back now it was a fairly harmless episode but the fact that the management overreacted demonstrated the tension that was within the squad at that time.
Bob: An aluminium clanger
The 1979/80 series took place at a time when advertising and gimmicks were taking firm root in the game and Dennis Lillee wanted to promote a ridiculous object - an aluminium bat, which scuffed the ball every time it made contact. It made a rather different sound when struck - something akin to the tinny clang you get when a ball hits a car bonnet, rather than the sweet sound of leather on willow or a golf ball struck out of the middle on an old wooden club.
When the umpires told Dennis he wasn't allowed to use it he lost his rag, which he usually did when things didn't go his way, and hurled it across the field in the direction of our captain Mike Brearley, who had an equally ridiculous beard at the time which led to him being nicknamed 'the Ayatollah'. In this series, however, unlike the one before, we were up against Australia's first XI rather than their third XI so the result was rather different - they took the series 3-0 in fact.
Since then advertising has become an integral part of the game and these days we see sponsors' names emblazoned on everything from bats and shirts to grounds and stumps, while innovation has given us such products as the curious-looking Mongoose.
Nass: Bumbling around
To this day Bumble gets agitated when you mention the Michael Slater run out that wasn't given at Sydney 1999. TV decisions had been around for a while but they hadn't quite been perfected yet! We were back in the series at 2-1 down after Dean Headley's match-winning spell at Melbourne and we were playing good cricket too so felt we had a good chance of levelling the series.
Australia were 60-2 in their second innings when Slats came back for another run only to be caught short of his ground by Headley's direct hit. We were convinced he was out by a distance and assumed he'd be sent on his way; even Slats seemed resigned to his fate but Steve Dunne referred the decision upstairs where the third umpire, Simon Taufel, said he couldn't give a decision because the camera was at the wrong angle and Peter Such was in the way. So somehow Slats being Slats survived and went on to score 123 out of a total of 184.
That left us chasing 287 - rather more than it should have been - and we came up short. It was doubly frustrating because we felt we had a genuine chance of winning and because it came after Athers got a rough decision at Adelaide. I was standing at the other end when he nicked Stuart MacGill and the ball bounced into the hands of Mark Taylor at slip. Amazingly he was given and from 83-1 with Athers going well and Australia's first innings well in our sights, we slipped to 227 all out. Needless to say, Bumble got all jumpy again!
Beefy: On tour with Elton
The Ashes is full of great moments but the greatest you can have as a player and the one moment you will always cherish is beating Australia in their own backyard. A lot of England players haven't had that experience since 1986/87; you will not get any more satisfaction from any other sporting performance in your life as an England cricketer than to win in Australia.
That tour was one to remember for so many reasons (although I did forget to take my bat out with me against Western Australia) and overall it was something very special. Kath and the kids were out there for most of the tour and we had a suite which became the team room, the focal point for that side once the day's cricket was over.
Elton John was there and combined watching us with his tour of Australia. Sometimes he came along and played the role of disc jockey. We enjoyed a lot of his music and he enjoyed watching us beat Australia, so needless to say we all had a very good party at the end of it!
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