When Swann turned on the sprinkler

In the last 36 years, with the clock turned all the way back to 1986, England has tasted success in an Ashes series on Australian soil just once. When Ian Botham inspired a remarkable 2-1 victory down under, few could have predicted that future triumphs would be so hard to come by.

Nobody has ever been under any illusion as to how tricky tours to the southern hemisphere were, are and forever will be, but a run of one in nine is a little sorry, to say the least. There have, of course, been mitigating circumstances, with rolling over Messrs Boon, Waugh, McGrath, Ponting and Warne in their own backyard often feeling like an impossible task.

Relief

England has tended to fare a little better on home soil, particularly in more recent times, and cricket betting odds have them priced at 11/10 to emerge victorious when a famous urn comes up for grabs again in the summer of 2023.

Australia are still widely regarded as the stronger team in different tournaments. In the T20 World Cup odds, the Aussies are priced at 5/2 while England are second favourites at 11/4, but there’s not much in it.

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They are not due back in Australia until the end of 2025, which will come as a relief to many given that the last three trips in that direction have delivered no Test victories and a cumulative score of 13-0-2 in favour of the rather dominant hosts.

It is fast approaching 12 years since England last had cause for celebration against old adversaries on the other side of the world, but what a party that turned out to be. It all started at the Adelaide Oval in early December 2010 and finished at the SCG a month later as a new year was toasted in some style.

For the first time in history, a touring side won three Tests by an innings in the same series. Australia was given a serious dose of their own medicine, with England finding runs and wickets to be in surprisingly plentiful supply.

Alistair Cook hit a quite staggering 766 runs despite only taking to the crease on one occasion in three of the five contests, while Jimmy Anderson proved that he is far from being a swinging flat-track bully by claiming 24 scalps.

The action was barely believable at times, but a feel-good factor that had been established in the build-up to the trickiest of sporting duels carried a star-studded squad of players and a joyous fan base along for the ride.

It was during these heady days of the Australian summer, with hours spent fielding in the blazing sun potentially to blame, that emotions spilt over in famous fashion. Nobody who was there, or watching on from afar, will ever forget the events which occurred in the outfield of the MCG at the end of the historic Boxing Day Test.

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Dance

Graeme Swann’s video diary had already introduced a global audience to the ‘sprinkler’ dance, with the England squad adopting said moves as their own behind the scenes, but now it was on display for the whole world to see.

More of a phase than a phenomenon, those involved did look a little sheepish as outstretched arms flicked and hips gyrated in front of the jubilant Barmy Army, but everyone was caught up in the moment and can be forgiven for getting a little carried away. Given what has happened since it is nice to have any memories that will stand the test of time.

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