Coming out on top Down Under

Only seven England sides have won the urn in Australia in the last 100 years. Here's how
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* 1986/87
Australia 1-2 England
Captain: Mike Gatting

For 23 years Gatting has been dining out on being the last England captain to secure the Ashes Down Under. So popular is Gatting that he will not go un-dined if England win this time. It was a peculiar, unexpected victory driven by a confluence of circumstances. There was Botham's last hurrah, Chris Broad's three hundreds, Graham Dilley's early series pace followed by Gladstone Small's deserved moment in the sun, Gower's occasional genius, two spinners in Phil Edmonds and John Emburey. And that was the last time. Until now.

* 1978-79
Australia 1-5 England
Captain: Mike Brearley

The least celebrated by far of English victories. World Series Cricket, a breakaway tournament offering hitherto untold money, had decimated Australia's team. England, marshalled by Mike Brearley, were perhaps fortunate to win so well. But it heralded Ian Botham's Ashes career. Derek Randall played one of the sturdiest of all Ashes innings (150 in 10 hours). Botham took 23 series wickets but not many people know that so did the present chairman of selectors Geoff Miller.

* 1970-71
Australia 0-2 England
Captain: Raymond Illingworth

Perhaps the single greatest example (including Jardine) of a captain running a tour. Illingworth was tough, shrewd, determined and knew how to win. It was, like the 2010 vintage, well-balanced. Three opening batsmen were deliberately chosen to fill the first three places and it worked. Geoff Boycott was in his pomp, John Edrich and Brian Luckhurst not far behind. The crucial component was John Snow, whose pace was significant throughout and gave them a lead.

* 1954-55
Australia 1-3 England
Captain: Len Hutton

For the first time England were led by a hard-nosed professional captain in Hutton. He was already an Ashes hero, having scored 364 in his sixth Test back in 1938. Like Jardine before him he built a side to beat Australia. After the first match at Brisbane, when England lost badly after putting Australia in, he made the heart-breaking decision to drop stalwart Alec Bedser. And then came "Typhoon" Tyson. Frank Tyson played only 17 Tests but in these five he took 28 wickets at electrifying pace supported by the magnificent Brian Statham.

* 1932-33
Australia 1-4 England
Captain: Douglas Jardine

The most famous Test series, one of the most famous sporting events of all. Bodyline, conceived by Jardine, executed by Larwood, swept all before it and almost broke diplomatic links between the countries. Designed to stop Bradman the leg theory worked, keeping his average to a mere 56. It is too often forgotten what a jolly decent side England were. Hammond was back with two centuries, Bill Voce and Gubby Allen supported Larwood. But it left a sour flavour which persists still and poor Larwood never played another Test.

* 1928-29
Australia 1-4 England
Captain: Percy Chapman

England went as holders of the Ashes, having regained them with a nerve-tingling 1-0 win in 1926. Starting with the 675-run win in Brisbane they took all before them in timeless Tests, winning the first four. It was Wally Hammond's series as no series has been for an England batsman in Australia. He scored four hundreds including two doubles. A certain Harold Larwood, who was to achieve enduring fame four years later, led England's attack with Maurice Tate, though left-arm spinner Jack White took most wickets. The first Test saw the debut of a batsman who was dropped for the second but went on to reasonable success. His name? Don Bradman.

* 1911-12
Australia 1-4 England
Captain: Johnny Douglas

The series is littered with names who reside forever in the pantheon. Jack Hobbs, Wilfred Rhodes, Frank Woolley, Sidney Barnes for England, Clem Hill, Warwick Armstrong, Victor Trumper for Australia. Australia had won in England in 1909 and looked like winning again when they took the first Test by 146 runs. But then Hobbs and Rhodes took over with the bat, Hobbs scoring hundreds in the next three matches, the pair putting on a record first-wicket 323 in the fourth. Barnes and the unheralded Frank Foster were a lethal pairing. Douglas, an old-fashioned amateur, has never been accorded due approbation.