The Ashes is full of great stories. Shane Warne’s ‘ball of the century’, Larwood’s bodyline bowling, the two run win at Edgbaston, Bradman missing out on a career average of 100. But it is more than just a great contest and battle between bat and ball. It’s more than 25 days of pure sport. Here are some memorable Ashes moments away from the cricket that epitomise why it is so entertaining, even when rain stops play.
1. Bad light. Quite possibly the most frustrating thing in cricket. But in 2005 at the Oval, fans and players alike made the most of a bad situation, highlighting the general spirit and good humour the series was played in. With England needing only to draw the game and the Aussies desperately seeking a win the England fans held their umbrellas aloft, while their antipodean counterparts pretended to bathe topless in the non-existent English sun. As for the players, when play finally resumed, a losing Australian side proudly walked onto the pitch – all bearing sunglasses.
2. In cricket, they often say what comes around goes around, and if a bad decision goes against you, you’ll almost certainly have one go your way another day. What comes around goes around is also true of poor Brad Haddin. In 2009, at Edgbaston, the same place Glenn McGrath turned the 2005 series on its head by standing on a cricket ball and withdrawing the from the second Test, Haddin managed to break a finger in bowling practice. But who was responsible for the offending cricket ball that ruined McGrath’s chances of a bowling demolition at Edgbaston? Brad Haddin, of course. Now, that’s karma.
3. In 1981 at Headingley, in light of recent match fixing scandals, the Australian team were lucky not to have been investigated further after this incident. While England was slipping further and further towards another defeat, the odds 500-1 for England to win appeared on the big screen. Full of jest, the Aussies told their bus driver to put a bet on for them. To their horror, they watched Bob Willis take 8-43 as England somehow slid to an 18 run win. It wasn’t all bad for Lillee and Marsh though, who each had a share of £7,500.
4. The Australian cricket team has the irritating ability to break records, and nothing truer can be said about David Boon on the flight to London in 1989. In a story that has gone down as a thing of cricketing legend, he is said to have drunk 55 cans of beer, beating Rod Marsh’s previous best of 44. Miraculously, Australia still managed to reclaim the Ashes back.
5. Sky’s main man David Gower is renowned for being a relaxed, almost too laid-back character and nothing was more evident in the 1991 series in Australia. Having scored back-to-back hundreds, Gower managed only a meagre score against Queensland and so decided to have a bit of fun with John Morris. They hired a Tiger Moth plane and flew it around the ground while Robin Smith and Allan Lamb were batting. Needless to say, he received a £1,000 fine and a ban for the upcoming West Indies series. Who knew Gower was such a rebel?
6. Never in the history of a sport has a substitute been so loved. Gary Pratt secured himself a place in the hearts of thousands of England supporters after the spectacular run-out of Ricky Ponting at a crucial moment in the 2005 Trent Bridge Test. Ricky Ponting launched a fiery tirade at Duncan Fletcher and received a fine of 75% of his match fee. The England team showed their appreciation for Pratt by giving him a place on their open top bus around London where he could read the banner that summed up just how appreciated he was: ‘Pratt for OBE’.