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The warm-up game that set the tone for England’s miserable 2006/07 Ashes tour

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

After famously winning the Ashes for the first time in 18 years in 2005, England went to Australia 14 months later in the hope of retaining the urn for the first time since 1986/87.

Things didn’t quite go to plan, as England were on the receiving end of a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of a vengeful Australia. On the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, two members of the England squad that series, discussed how the tour went so badly wrong for England.

Harmison said: “We didn’t get beat 5-0 because Andrew Flintoff was captain of England. We didn’t get beat 5-0 because Stephen Harmison bowled the first ball to second slip. We got beat 5-0 because the 16 players who left England to go to Australia were nowhere near as good as Australia. That’s the top and bottom of it.”

Flintoff reminded Harmison that England’s tour couldn’t have got off to much of a worse start, a 166-run to the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra.

“Remember that first game where we got beat by the Prime Minister’s XI?” asked Flintoff. “In a 50-over game they got nearly 400 [347-5] and they bowled us out for about 180 [181]. You’ve got to think at that point…we’re not going to get through this.”

While the The Prime Minister’s XI England faced that day were a strong side – 10 of the playing XI went on to play international cricket – it was still a chastening day for England. Sajid Mahmood’s nine overs went for 97 as a line-up containing Tim Paine, Phil Jaques and Shaun Marsh piled on 347-5 from their 50 overs. In response, only two England batsmen – Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood – passed 25 as a near full-strength England fell well short of their opponent’s total. Shaun Tait was the pick of the Prime Minister’s XI attack, taking 3-21 from eight overs.

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