Ashes: England’s five greatest wins in Australia, including beating hosts in ‘Bodyline’ tour


England’s quest to regain the Ashes on Australian soil begins next week, with Joe Root’s men set to take on Pat Cummins’ side in Brisbane on December 8.

Their last visit Down Under in 2017-18 ended in heartbreak as Root and his men were dismantled in a 4-0 series defeat, while the last edition of the Ashes in 2019 saw Australia earn a 2-2 draw and therefore retain the urn.

There have however been better memories for a touring England side to Australia in previous years, and here Sportsmail’s LAWRENCE BOOTH picks out five of the best… 

Sydney 1894-95

Only three Tests out of almost 2,500 have been won by the team following on — and Australia have lost the lot. England looked dead and buried after replying to 586 with 325 but a second-innings century from opener Albert Ward helped set a target of 177. 

At stumps on the fifth day – back then, Tests in Australia were played to a finish – the hosts were cruising at 113 for two. But overnight rain left the uncovered pitch in a sorry state. 

Realising his team had an outside chance, England captain Andrew Stoddart shoved his hungover. 

Then left-arm spinner Bobby Peel took six wickets as Australia collapsed from 130 for two to 166 all out, giving England a sensational victory by 10 runs. Wisden called it ‘probably the most sensational match ever played either in Australia or in England’.

Left-arm spinner Bobby Peel (above) took six wickets to give England a 10-run victory

Sydney 1932-33 

‘Bodyline’ retains the effect on Australians that ‘Macbeth’ has on actors. 

And England’s Aussie-hating captain Douglas Jardine’s plan to aim bouncers on leg stump to a packed leg-side field got off to a stirring start at the SCG. Australia, minus the unwell Don Bradman, were bowled out for 360 and 164, with fast bowler Harold Larwood taking 10 wickets and his Nottinghamshire colleague Bill Voce six. 

Without Stan McCabe’s hall-of-fame 187 not out in the first innings, the damage would have been even more gruesome. In between, centuries from Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond and the Nawab of Pataudi lifted England to 524 en route to a 10-wicket win. 

Not even the return of Bradman could save Australia from a 4-1 defeat – prompting one of the longest whinges in sporting history.

Sydney 1954-55

Australia’s thumping victory in the first Test at the Gabba left England captain Len Hutton wondering whether to hurl himself into the Brisbane River. 

Then, at the SCG, Australian quick Ray Lindwall made the mistake of hitting Frank Tyson — the fastest bowler on either side — on the head. ‘I was very, very angry,’ wrote Tyson. 

‘I would return the bouncer with interest.’ And he did, taking six wickets (and 10 in the match) as Australia were bowled out for 184 in pursuit of 223. 

In the next game, he was even more unplayable, returning second-innings figures of seven for 27. England won 3-1, and Hutton breathed again.

Ian Botham pulverised Australia's attack to the tune of 138 in Brisbane during 1986-87 series

Ian Botham pulverised Australia’s attack to the tune of 138 in Brisbane during 1986-87 series

Brisbane 1986-87

England’s only problem, wrote journalist Martin Johnson, was that ‘they can’t bat, they can’t bowl, and they can’t field’. 

On the first day of the series at the Gabba, Mike Gatting’s side set about disproving the jibe and advancing quietly to 198 for two, thanks to 76 from opener Bill Athey. 

Then Ian Botham pulverised Australia’s attack to the tune of 138, reserving special punishment for Merv Hughes. It was like 1981 all over again – though Botham never scored another Test century.

Graham Dilley and John Emburey traded five-fours as the shell-shocked Australians followed on and England completed a seven-wicket win — paving the way for a 2-1 series win. Johnson’s quote went down in history.

Melbourne 2010-11

England have won just four Tests in Australia this century, but three — all by an innings — came in five heady weeks in 2010-11. 

The second, which ensured Andrew Strauss’s side retained the urn, came in the Boxing Day Test, and was set up by a dominant first-day display that saw a stunned MCG emptying well before stumps. 

First Australia were bundled out for 98, with four wickets each for Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett. Then Alastair Cook, in the form of his life, and Strauss put on 157 by the close. 

Jonathan Trott’s unbeaten 168 helped extend the reply to 513, before Australia were dismissed for 258, with England winning by an innings and 157, and wrapped up an unforgettable 3-1 win at Sydney in the new year.

Andrew Strauss's side retained the urn with victory in the Boxing Day Test in December 2010

Andrew Strauss’s side retained the urn with victory in the Boxing Day Test in December 2010



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