Ashes 2006/07: Injuries and early defeats account for England's mauling
Andrew Strauss reveals why injury-hit England were always destined to suffer defeat Down Under...
By Andrew Strauss
Last Updated: 20/11/13 12:53pm
Beset by injury problems, the tourists - who had won the urn in dramatic style on home soil in the summer of 2005 - slipped to a crushing series whitewash, following losses at Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Andrew Strauss was one of many England players to struggle - the left-hander passed 50 just once over the course of the five Tests - but told skysports.com that his country were always destined for defeat on Australian turf.
Ahead of this winter's Ashes - which commences, live on Sky Sports, in the early hours of Thursday morning - Strauss looked back to the 2006/07 series and explained why England's build-up was so troublesome.
The Sky Cricket pundit also reflected on current England skipper Alastair Cook's first clash with the Antipodeans, as well as the form of Paul Collingwood and the emergence of a certain Michael John Clarke...
What was the overriding feeling as you headed Down Under?
ANDREW SAYS: There was definitely a fear there and we were worried for a number of reasons. Michael Vaughan, our captain, was injured and not only was that a blow on the batting front because he had been phenomenally successful the last time we were in Australia, it also created a lot of instability in the side, in terms of having an obvious leader and everyone knowing where they stood.
Andrew Flintoff was doing the job, which was a big ask for him; I don't think that was the big difference between us winning and losing as I feel we would have lost whoever captained us, but having the pressure of being England's talisman at the same time as captaining was a hell of a lot for Freddie to bear.
What other factors contributed to the team's downfall?
ANDREW SAYS: We also had lots of other injuries. Marcus Trescothick was in the throws of depression at the time and went home early, while Ashley Giles went back, too, and we didn't have Simon Jones either, so we didn't have that settled side that we had back in 2005 and in the back of all our minds we were all concerned.
That feeling intensified when - after coming straight from a Champions Trophy in India, which wasn't ideal preparation - we landed in Australia, got whacked in a couple of warm-up games, which is easy to do in Australia, and were suddenly on the back foot. We felt things derail pretty quickly.
Did you feel as a team that you were ready to head Down Under and defend the Ashes?
ANDREW SAYS: History suggests we were not but too many of us didn't play well in Australian conditions - Steve Harmison had been struggling for a little while in the one-day arena and brought it into the Test game - and the Australians were hell-bent on retribution after what happened in 2005; they were very focussed, very committed and caught us unawares, and before you knew it we were 2-0 down in the series and there was no way back.
This was also the final series for Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer etc and they were determined to go out with a bang and not lose to England again, and you could certainly feel that on the pitch. However, all of us that were involved in that tour were determined to make sure that really low time never happened again and I think the seeds of us winning in 2010/11 were sown on that tour. We had a clear idea of what we got wrong and what we needed to do right next time.
Alastair Cook averaged 27.60 in the series but also scored a ton at Perth. How did you see his first battle with Australia in Test cricket, as well as the form of one of England's unsung heroes Paul Collingwood?
ANDREW SAYS: Those were really early days for Alastair as an England cricketer and he didn't have a terrible series by any means but I think he, like all of us, struggled with Warne and McGrath. However, Alastair is one of these guys that just finds a way of overcoming problems and it wasn't a massive surprise for me to see him use that series as a kind of launch-pad.
Collingwood, meanwhile, was such a selfless player and such a vital cog in what we were trying to achieve that he probably didn't deserve his best moments for England to be in the midst a 5-0 whitewash. That said, that double hundred at Adelaide was phenomenal.
Michael Clarke scored two centuries and averaged over 77. Did you sense then that he would push on and become the premier run-getter he is today?
ANDREW SAYS: Clarke came of age as a batsman in that series. He struggled a bit in 2005 but played well in 2006/07 and from then on has been very consistent against England and incredibly successful against all teams. He was beginning to play that senior role at a time when Matthew Hayden, Langer and all those guys were retiring and Australia really needed him.
He scored 124 in the second Test against us at Adelaide as Australia won by six wickets - and then 135 not out in the third at Perth - and when you score a big innings at the right time when people don't expect it or think you are incapable of it, it can completely change your confidence and take your career in in a different route to what you expected. Maybe that's what happened with Clarke and it has been interesting to see how good he has got because he is probably one of the top two or three batsmen in the world.
Stay up or catch up - watch England's defence of the Ashes in Australia this winter ONLY on Sky Sports, starting with the first Test from 11pm this Wednesday on Sky Sports 2.