Ashes: A look back on England's miserable trips to Australia through the years

With the 2021-22 Ashes already surrendered, England at least avoided a whitewash by drawing fourth Test in Sydney

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England might have been spared the indignity of a potential third series whitewash in the space of five away Ashes tours after they eked out a draw in Sydney on Sunday.

It was a meagre respite, though, from what has been another miserable trip Down Under.

Even now, with the series long since lost, the problems continue to pile up. Jos Buttler is on his way home after being ruled out of the Hobart Test with a hand injury.

Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes are injury doubts for the final game, and Sam Billings, the replacement wicket keeper in line for his Test debut, still has to navigate Covid protocols to get there.

It says much about how abject England have been on away Ashes tours that this might not even be their worst series in recent history.

Cricket - Australia v England - Ashes test match - WACA Ground, Perth, Australia, December 16, 2017 - Australia's captain Steve Smith celebrates with team mate Mitchell Marsh after reaching his double century during the third day of the third Ashes cricket test match.    REUTERS/David Gray

2017-2018, Australia 4-0

Since the start if the 2013-14 series in Australia, England have lost 12 matches, drawn two and won none.

Last time they went there, they suffered two innings defeats, and a whitewash was only averted thanks to a featherbed wicket in Melbourne, where Alastair Cook batted for 10-and-a-half hours for a double century.

That draw at the MCG was deemed such a success that Tom Curran, England’s debutant fast-bowler, celebrated by tossing his boots into the crowd for souvenirs.

Mitchell Johnson. Getty Images

2013-14, Australia 5-0

A run of unprecedented success for England only served to make Australia – and, most pertinently, Mitchell Johnson – angry.

England won three Ashes series in a row before being savaged by Johnson. The left-arm fast-bowler took 37 wickets in a series which ended the England career of Graeme Swann, and culminated with England liberally handing out caps to Boyd Rankin, Gary Ballance and Scott Borthwick.

England players perform the “Sprinkler” dance after winning the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne.

2010-11, England 3-1

The fact England finally enjoyed some success in Australia was made all the more surprising given the ease with which they managed it. Each of the three Tests they won was done so by an innings margin.

The celebrated retaining the Ashes with a team rendition of the Sprinkler dance on the outfield at the MCG.

Andrew Flintoff, centre. PA

2006-2007, Australia 5-0

England might have thought they had it cracked after winning their first Ashes series in the best part of two decades in 2005. All it really served to do, though, was poke the beast.

The angry Australians savaged England, who scarcely saw captain Michael Vaughan due to injury, and it was all too much for his replacement, Andrew Flintoff.

2002-2003, Australia 4-1

Somehow, even though a whitewash was only averted in the final Test, the player of the series came from the losing team.

Michael Vaughan was amazing, racking up 633 runs in five games, and stealing Steve Waugh’s limelight in the last game, at the SCG. He was ploughing a lone furrow, though, as England were dominated again.

1998-99, Australia 3-1

Clinging on by their fingernails to a draw in the final over of a dead-rubber might have felt like a minor triumph for England’s bedraggled tourists this week.

But it is actually a downgrade on times past. England always used to be assured of a win in matches that didn’t matter on Ashes tours.

In 1998, they managed one of their most memorable wins on tour, when Dean Headley inspired them to a 12-run triumph at the MCG. The rest of the series – lost 3-1, is best forgotten.

Updated: January 10, 2022, 7:54 AM