SENDING an SOS back home for replacements has become commonplace on Ashes campaigns Downunder. KEN PIESSE recalls the most famous occasion when veteran Colin Cowdrey was summoned to face the chin music from Lillee and Thommo:
ENGLAND’S LATEST touring team reinforcement, Tim Curran, is among the elite “extras” to be enlisted by the English touring selectors in the last 50 years.
The 22-year-old Surrey prospect replaces Steven Finn in the 16-man squad. Finn had been an original reinforcement for the disgraced Ben Stokes but hurt his knee in his initial practice sessions last week in Perth.
While Finn’s previous experiences in Australia has been confined to white-ball cricket, his best is very menacing and his absence another setback for the tourists approaching next week’s opening Ashes Test.
It seems every time an English Ashes team tours Downunder there is at least one major injury, if not more. When there are no changes, England invariably wins — as occurred in 2010-11 and 1986-87.
Substitute players have been called for in all but two Ashes Test tours since 1965. The most celebrated reinforcement was 41-year-old Colin Cowdrey, who was in his rose garden at his home in leafy Kent when Mike Denness rang asking him if he fancied a spot of southern sunshine.
Within 48 hours of arriving in Perth in November,1974, Cowdrey found himself batting in the first three against the “tornado twins” Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson on the fastest wicket in the country.
Cowdrey resembled the Michelin man on arrival at the wicket, having wrapped his entire body in extra padding. He walked past Jeff Thomson and offered his hand, saying: “Good morning, I’m Colin Cowdrey.” Thommo was less polite in his reply.
Cowdrey made 22 and 41 and said those innings under high duress were as satisfying as many of his 22 Test 100s.
SENDING OUT AN SOS
England’s reinforcements co-opted on to Ashes Test tours Downunder:
2017-18: Steven Finn, Tom Curran
2013-14: Tim Bresnan (Played two Tests), Scott Borthwick (one)
2006-07: Ed Joyce
2002-03: Craig White (four Tests), Chris Silverwood, Alex Tudor
1998-99: Graeme Hick (four), Ian Salisbury, Ashley Giles, Gavin Hamilton
1994-95: Angus Fraser (three), Chris Lewis, Jack Russell, Neale Fairbrother
1990-91: Hugh Morris, Phil DeFreitas (three), Phil Newport (one)
1982-83: Trevor Jesty
1979-80: John Emburey, Graham Stevenson
1978-79: David Bairstow
1974-75: Colin Cowdrey (all five)
1970-71: Bob Willis (four), Ted Dexter
1965-66: Barry Knight (two)
1958-59: John Mortimore (one), Ted Dexter (two)
1950-51: Brian Statham, Roy Tattersall (two), Eric Bedser
NSW THE POWER BASE
JUST as Australia’s Test team has been dominated for years by those from Sydney and surrounds, the Australian women’s team is similarly indebted.
Five from NSW — Alex Blackwell, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes and Lauren Cheadle — were a part of the initial 13-player squad chosen for the current day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney. While Cheadle, the youngest, didn’t make the starting XI, the other four played.
With the omission of the much-travelled Tasmanian born-and-bred Kristen Beams, there wasn’t even one Victorian chosen … though Haynes did play and captain Vic Spirit before moving to Sydney several years ago.
SIDDS ON THE OUTER
PETER SIDDLE was responsible for one of the great Ashes moments in Brisbane two tours back when he hit Englishman Stuart Broad on the foot first ball to complete a hat-trick on the opening day of the otherwise ill-fated Ashes series in 2010-11.
On his 26th birthday, the likeable Morwell paceman took six for 54 in the stellar moments of his Test career.
Eight years on, his time as an international seems to have passed, injuries having reduced his pace and menace.
He was the least successful of Victoria’s pacemen in the opening new-season Sheffield Shield games, taking just three for 223.
Ever optimistic, he is adamant that his returns can improve to allow him to once again be in contention for a Test recall.
But right now, the competition from others, even in his own camp (Chris Tremain and Scott Boland) has been considerable and he is rapidly sliding down the selection scale.
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now