From Ajmal's magic to Johnson's terror, a look at England's Test series whitewashes

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Mitchell Johnson.

England go into the third Test against a resurgent West Indies looking to avert a 3-0 clean sweep in St Lucia.

They have only been on the wrong end of a clean sweep eight times in their history, in series involving three matches or more, with three of those coming in the 21st century.

Here, Press Association Sport looks back at the most recent whitewashes against England.

2013/14 – Australia 5 England 0

The end of the road for the most successful England side in recent memory, who were ruthlessly shredded in grim revenge for their memorable success in 2010/11 series Down Under. Inspired by a career-best series from paceman Mitchell Johnson, Australia took no prisoners on a tour that came with a heavy price. It was the last time the brilliant but divisive Kevin Pietersen would be seen wearing the Three Lions, the conclusion of Andy Flower’s time as team director, Graeme Swann retired mid-series and Jonathan Trott’s anxiety issues flared up publicly for the first time.

2011/12 – Pakistan 3 England 0

Saeej Ajmal.

Saeej Ajmal.

England arrived in the United Arab Emirates as the number one team in the world, the apex of Andrew Strauss’ achievements as captain. But they proved unable to tailor their tactics or their talent to their opponent’s adopted home in the desert. England’s misjudgements were apparent when they started the series with just one spinner, an error exposed by the fact Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman ended the campaign with a combined 34 wickets. The failures in batting hit a low when they were bowled out for 72 chasing 145 in Abu Dhabi, and not a single batsman averaged 30.

2006/07 – Australia 5 England 0

The first 5-0 scoreline in the Ashes since 1921 and a crushing blow for those who had hoped for a sequel to the unforgettable scenes 18 months earlier, when England regained the urn for the first time in 18 years. With captain Michael Vaughan unfit, Andrew Flintoff stepped up to lead the side into what became a massacre. Steve Harmison’s opening ball of the series, a huge wide to first slip, is still remembered for setting the tone but this was an Australia side loaded with wounded greats hell-bent on setting the record straight. Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Damien Martyn all retired after doing so in style.

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Mark Wood ready to bring pace boost to England's flagging West Indies Test tour

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Mark Wood.

Mark Wood might not boast the powerlifter’s physique of Shannon Gabriel but he is confident he can bring the same raw pace to England‘s bowling attack.

England need to find a new formula in St Lucia as they look to salvage some pride from a series that has seen them mercilessly thrashed in the first two Tests, and Wood is in contention for a recall.

The Durham man admits it would be “harsh” to change the bowlers when more fundamental problems exist in the batting, but with the West Indies seamers consistently quicker than England’s it is a valid point of discussion.

The strapping Trinidadian Gabriel has been the most menacing paceman on either side, with a fastest ball of almost 94mph, while none of the tourists have troubled the 90mph barrier.

“I haven’t got Shannon Gabriel’s muscles but maybe I could bowl as quick as him…I still think I can,” said Wood, who generates his pace from a slighter frame and with a skiddier trajectory.

Gabriel is the leader of Windies' bowling attack.

Gabriel is the leader of Windies’ bowling attack.

“The one (ODI) game I played in Sri Lanka in October, the speed gun was high. You’d have to to ask our batters, but it feels like it’s coming out alright. We’ll be able to see if I play.”

Asked to assess his chances of a 13th Test cap in Gros Islet on Saturday – the 12th having come last May – Wood said: “If you recognise we have missed pace and that’s an issue, I think I’ve got a chance.

“I think it’s very harsh to leave a bowler out when it’s the batting that’s failed but that always seems to be the case, doesn’t it? The batting’s not quite firing, so maybe we’ll change a bowler.

“Obviously the bowlers’ union and the batting union are slightly split at the minute.”

Wood flashes a knowing smile when he mentions the notion of tensions in the camp and is quick to reveal the opposite is true, with players of opposing disciplines teaming up after net sessions on this trip to share insights into each other’s game.

The 29-year-old has been a regular in the limited-overs squad over the past four years and, with a home World Cup around the corner, his hopes of a red-ball recall appeared to be receding. But a heart to heart with head coach Trevor Bayliss and an injury to Olly Stone nudged the door back open.

“I would never give up my hope of playing Test cricket,” said Wood.

“I spoke to Trevor at the end of the Sri Lanka tour and said that I wanted to be part of the red-ball Lions team in the UAE. He agreed and he wanted me to step up. He challenged me to go and show I was a step above the lads in the Lions and really set the bar high. In most of the games I feel I did that and proved I was an international-class bowler, which I wanted to do.

“There’s probably been times when I’ve been selected for what I could do rather than what I have done but I felt in the UAE I bowled particularly well. I feel like I’ve been picked on merit.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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England coach Bayliss says Test team suffering from lack of competition

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Trevor Bayliss admits England‘s Test side is suffering from lack of competition for places, a dearth of top-order specialists and a “muddled” mindset.

The head coach did not sugar the pill as he picked over back-to-back defeats against the West Indies, by crushing margins of 381 runs in Barbados and 10 wickets in Antigua, diagnosing some fundamental issues with the available batting options.

England have been rolled over far too easily in the Caribbean with scores of 77, 246, 187 and 132 showing up flaws in temperament and technique.

Speaking in the dressing room after the three-day loss at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Bayliss invited the team to go away and offer their own answers ahead of the third Test in St Lucia which starts on Saturday, but it was clear he does not anticipate any easy fix.

In particular, England’s batting has the tendency to look lop-sided with Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran and Ben Foakes all most suitable as stroke-makers in the lower middle order.

Meanwhile the top three suffers from a chronic lack of options, with a revolving-door policy among openers in recent years and Bairstow the latest square peg wedged into the round hole at first wicket down.

“One of the difficult things is we’ve got six guys that are probably suited to batting six or seven and we’re trying to fit them into the team,” said Bayliss.

“Without a lot of pressure coming up from behind then those guys are our best players, so we’ve got to try and fit them into the team. It would be great if somebody was pushing them from behind and giving them a little extra motivation to score runs and stay in the team. We have a lot of guys averaging in the low 30s. In years gone by, that wouldn’t have been good enough to stay in the team.

“We’d like to see plenty of guys in county cricket putting pressure on those blokes. But the guys we have tried at the top of the order over the last few years have been the best players in county cricket.

“There doesn’t seem to be the ready-made international player who’s made plenty of runs and has the game that can succeed at international level.”

Events of the past fortnight have punctured the optimism created in Sri Lanka before Christmas, where a 3-0 whitewash took the Test side’s record to eight wins out of nine.

The results of the one-day side have been more consistent over Bayliss’ four-year reign, leading to a well-deserved world number one ranking in the 50-over format. The Australian has overseen a wildly successful change in approach against the white ball, focusing on relentless aggression, but he now concedes the Test team are less clear about how to apply his principles.

“It could have been misinterpreted on the inside,” he added.

“We’ve got the one-day team that goes out and plays that way, but sometimes I feel the message between one-day cricket and Test cricket gets muddled a little. Test team versus one-day team, there’s a bit of a different mindset and different rates of success.”

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