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  • Jason Regan

England cannot win the Ashes

History tells us that anyone expecting a competitive performance from England in Australia are usually left disappointed.

Get a good look at this picture English fans. It's a spoiler.

England has only won a single series on Australian soil since 1987, in 8 attempts. That series win, a drought-breaking 3-1 triumph back in 2010-11, came as a direct result of the retirement of many of Australian cricket’s greatest stars.

Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and Brett Lee all had sailed off into retirement since the 5-nil whitewash of 2006-07 with only Lee playing in England in the 2009 series.

In contrast, the English team of 2010-11 was at the height of its powers. Strauss as skipper, Cook his deputy. Kevin Peterson and Paul Collingwood had never batted better. Anderson, Broad and Swann were at the pinnacle of their careers with the ball in hand.

England was ready to win, and Australia was in the middle of a top-level rebuild. Youngsters Mitchell Johnson, Steve Smith, Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes were all at the beginning of their international careers with only Ponting, Clarke and Hussey bringing significant international experience into the series.

File photo dated 07-01-2011 of England captain Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen celebrate after winning the fifth Ashes Test in 2011. (Gareth Copley/PA Wire)

On home soil, Australia has won 7 of 8 series against England since 1987. It gets even worse for English supporters. The old enemy has only won 5 series in Australia since the second world war. In modern times when England lose in Australia, they lose big.

In three of their past 4 series in Australia England has failed to win a match. Their record in Australia since 1987 is a staggering 7 wins from a total of 40 tests. Australia has won 26 tests with 6 matches drawn.

History shows that when the two nations face off in Australia only a dominant England has won. Is the English team of this summer a dominant unit? The short answer to that question would be to laugh uncontrollably. But, for the sake of the series let’s delve a little deeper into the current squad and compare the two.

While England will continue to play games with their final lineup right up to the toss they aren’t fooling anyone.

England Batters




tests(inn) in Aus

Runs(ave) in Aus

Rory Burns

29 (53)

1712 (32.3)

first trip


Zac Crawley

15 (26)

737 (28.3)

first trip


Dawid Malan

17 (29)

830 (28.6)

5 (9)

383 (42.69)

Joe Root (c)

109 (200)

9278 (50.15)

24 (46)

1694 (40.33)

Ben Stokes

70 (130)

4631 (37.04)

14 (26)

921 (38.37)

Ollie Pope

20 (34)

965 (32.16)

first trip


Jos Buttler (w)

53 (92)

2800 (33.33)

first test


England Bowlers


tests (inn)

wick (ave)

test (inn) in Aus

Wick (ave) in Aus

Chris Woakes

39 (62)

119 (28.73)

4 (7)

10 (9.5)

Mark Wood

21 (40)

64 (33.10)

first trip


Ollie Robinson

5 (10)

28 (19.6)0)

first trip


Stuart Broad

149 (274)

524 (27.84)

12 (21)

34 (37.14)

Australia Batters



runs (ave)

tests(inn) in Aus

​Runs(ave) in Aus

David Warner

86 (159)

7311 (48.09)

45 (79)

​4551 (63.20)

​Marcus Harris

10 (19)

428 (23.77)

7 (13)

370 (30.83)

​Marnus Labuschagne

18 (31)

1885 (60.80)

7 (13)

1451 (72.55)

​Steve Smith

77 (139)

7540 (61.8)

38 (65)

3657 (67.72)

​Travis Head

19 (31)

1153 (39.75)

13 (19)

840 (46.66)

Cameron Green

4 (7)

236 (33.71)

4 (7)

236 (33.71)

Alex Carey (w)

test debut




Australia Bowlers



wick (ave)

test (inn) in Aus

Wick (ave) in Aus

Mitchell Starc

61 (117)

255 (27.57)

36 (69)

161 (26.93)

Josh Hazlewood

55 (103)

212 (25.65)

31 (57)

127 (24.71)

Pat Cummins (c)

34 (65)

164 (21.59)

20 (38)

92 (21.39)

Nathan Lyon

100 (191)

399 (32.12)

52 (99)

200 (32.97)

England is likely to line up on day one with 6 players who have never played a test match on Australian soil. If England wants more experience in Australian conditions Jonny Bairstow could slot in at number 6 in place of Ollie Pope. However, his record in Australia is hardly awe-inspiring. Bairstow averages just 27 in 13 innings with just one score past 50.

(AAP Image/Darren England)

The English bowling is a pop gun attack at best in Australian conditions. Legendary seamer Jimmy Anderson is under an injury cloud but is likely to come into the side later in the series. Anderson has found Australian pitches tough going in the past, averaging around 35 per wicket here.

England will need multiple players to play above expectations to be competitive in this series. Stokes is a match-winner and Root has improved significantly since his last trip to Australia and is now a genuine star. They will both need to have a big series to keep the tourists in the hunt.

What about the English spinners? Leach and Bess have little to no form in Australian conditions and are unlikely to be major factors. It’s almost impossible to see England winning anywhere other than under the lights in Adelaide or perhaps Hobart where conditions will be closer to what they might experience at home.

England's James Anderson takes the new ball on Day 1 of the Second Test match between Australia and England at the Adelaide Oval in in Adelaide, Saturday, December 2, 2017. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

In a positive for England, there are several question marks on the Australians going into the series.

Pat Cummins is making his debut as skipper in the series. How will that affect his otherwise deadly line and length? Are Alex Carey and Travis Head up to test match standard? Whilst the jury is out on those, there are far more question marks hanging over English heads than Australians.

Alex Carey and Travis Head. Will they sink or swim? (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

If history tells us that only dominant English teams win in Australia, then this team will have to buck that trend. Because, quite simply, this is not a dominant squad, at least on paper. England has plenty of raw talent in its squad, but so does every test playing nation.

When the 4th test in Sydney comes to a close, I fully expect the Ashes will have been decided and Australia will have retained the urn. This isn’t a prediction, it’s a spoiler. Australia will win this series emphatically, 4-nil or 3-1 at worst.

If England regains the Ashes they will have not just beaten Australia, but history. And I’ll happily eat these words and sing “God Save The Queen” on the FLOW FM Australia airwaves wrapped in the Union Jack.


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