The Ashes 2013/14: an alternative guide to the Gabba ahead of the first Test, in Brisbane
Screaming Lord Gower, a piglet invasion, plus that toss: the Panel recalls some special Gabba moments...
Last Updated: 18/11/13 3:13pm
Strauss cashed in with a century in the second innings and then sat back and watched Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott fill their boots.
For England fans Cook's attack-blunting 235no will live long in the memory, but what special (or horrendous) recollections do Strauss' fellow Sky Sports commentators - Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton, Bob Willis, Sir Ian Botham and David Gower - have of the Gabba?
NASSER: For obvious reasons, it has to be the toss of 2002/03. It's fair to say that putting Australia in that day was a mistake - and I can laugh about it now - but Steve Waugh has since come out and said he would have done the same. Anyway, I look forward to going back to the Gabba because I always cop a load of flak from Botham and pretty much everyone, to be honest, including all the Aussie fans. I expect I'll get plenty of stick off Strauss now! I like to get to day two in Brisbane as quickly as possible!
Brisbane was also the scene of the David Gower 'chair on foot' incident on the 2010/11 tour! It was about 1.30am English time when Lord Gower handed over the commentary to Athers and myself. Unfortunately for him, as I sat down I didn't realise that the chair was on his foot which took my full weight - and I was carrying a bit of timber back then, too! He was just about to hand over to us and was saying something like 'So far, so good' when all of a sudden he let out a huge 'Aaargh!' I have no idea how Lord Gower didn't swear but hearing my childhood hero screaming on a live Ashes broadcast was very enjoyable!
ATHERS: I remember Matthew Hayden running down the pitch at Andrew Caddick right at the start of the 2002/03 tour because it's not the kind of thing you necessarily see on the first morning of an Ashes Test! He went on to score 197 and Australia won the match by 384 runs. Generally at Brisbane you expect a good contest between bat and ball with a bit of juice and bounce in the pitch; I'd say it's the best pitch in Australia because it gives every facet of the game a go. If you are decent at what you do, you should flourish there.
BOB: I've got very bad memories of commentating on Martin McCague and Phil DeFreitas opening the bowling against Michael Slater in 1994. Slats cut the first ball of the series, from DeFreitas for four, and the ball went to most parts of the ground therafter as Slats scored 176 in good time and Australia scored over 400 before England were bowled out cheaply. That set the tone for that particular series, much as Steve Harmison's embarrassingly wide opening ball in 2006/07. That will always be a lasting memory for anyone who witnessed it because it was so deflating after all the build-up. Fortunately, a bit like me putting Australia in at Adelaide in 1982/83, he can now laugh about it but it wasn't much of a laughing matter at the time.
BEEFY: It has to be our seven-wicket win at the start of the 1986/87 tour. We were written off as a team by our own press - and not just the tabloids, but the broadsheets as well! Martin Johnson, a very respected sports writer around the world wrote 'the only problem with this side is that they can't bat, bowl or field' - or words to that effect. We were defending the Ashes we won in 1985 and those words appeared on the eve of the start of our defence, in Brisbane! That game set the tone for the series. Australia dropped David Gower on nought and he went on to get fifty, I got some runs and Phil DeFreitas did too. It was the quickest I've ever seen a ground in Australia empty, and I include the Boxing Day Test on the last tour in that too! It was one of those occasions where we defied the odds. No-one gave us any chance whatsoever of winning so it was really nice to turn the tables.
DAVID: Beefy's failed to mention that in the first innings of that Test he played one of his great swashbuckling knocks, scoring 138, including 22 off one Merv Hughes over. The old Gabba was a smaller ground with a dog-track around it and he kept hitting the ball either onto it or over it! We broadcast an interview with Merv earlier this summer when he admitted that it was one of the few times on a cricket pitch when he felt entirely helpless - and that's what Beefy could do to people. It was an extraordinary knock that accelerated the game enormously; yes, it was on the back of some equally important but less flamboyant stuff from the batsmen above him, but he was the one who made the statement by taking on the new ball. It was a game-changing innings.
On the tour before in '82/83 we encountered the famous piglet incident, when a pair of vets released the creature - complete with union jacks and various players' names daubed on it - onto the field. The vets had previously sedated the piglet and told the gateman that it was their lunch only to revive it just before the interval and set it loose. It was completely uncatchable for 10 minutes!
Benedict Bermange's Key facts
England's Record at the GABBA is: P19, W4, L10, D5
- England's Trevor Bailey scored only eight runs in a full session in the 1958 Ashes Test on his way to 68 from 427 balls
- The first-ever tied Test Match took place at the ground between Australia and the West Indies in 1960
- Australia are unbeaten in their last 24 Tests at the ground, last losing to the West Indies in 1988
Stay up or catch up - watch England's defence of the Ashes in Australia this winter ONLY on Sky Sports, starting at 11pm on Wednesday, on Sky Sports 2.