'We were sledged by the aeroplane captain' – the perils of an Ashes tour


Stuart Broad, one of many England players to receive a warm welcome from the Australian public

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Feral. Loud. Relentless. And that’s just Brisbane.

Historically, England’s cricketers have never had an easy time when they’ve pitched up in Australia. Everything – and everybody – is against them.

England have won in Australia, but only four times since 1954-55.

They have lost horribly there, too. Teams have fallen apart, careers have been ended and players barracked from the streets to the newspaper stands.

So what are the pressures of an Ashes tour – and how do players cope?

‘We even got sledged by the captain of the aeroplane’ – the public

Australia is a tough place to tour, from the moment you land in the country. Quite literally.

Former England spinner Phil Tufnell, who played in two losing Ashes tours, remembers the customs officers “having a go soon as you stepped foot on the tarmac. We might have even have got sledged by the captain of the aeroplane as we left.”

With the Ashes at stake, the attention and pressure on players is multiplied. Anonymity can be difficult.

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow recalls: “Gary Ballance and I had flown over to go and play for the Lions team and we were just minding our own business, getting out of the car.

“These builders saw us and just started laying into us – a barrage coming our way about me being ginger. ‘Have you got your sun cream on? All that sort of stuff. Geez, it was character building.”

On the 1998-99 tour, England batsman John Crawley was making his way back to the team hotel in Cairns when he was punched by a drunken stranger.