England hoping to avoid another ghastly Gabba start in Ashes

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The Ashes series begins on Wednesday in Brisbane, where England will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their previous disastrous starts.

Here the PA news agency looks back at some of the howlers at the Gabba that have proved costly in previous series.

DeFreitas unnerved by last-minute switch of ends

Cricket – New Zealand in British Isles – England v New Zealand – First Test – Day Four – Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Phil DeFreitas’s first ball in 1994 was hit for four (John Giles/PA)

In 1994, Phil DeFreitas saw his first ball dispatched to the boundary by opener Michael Slater, who hit another wide delivery over third slip for four in the same over.

Slater went on to smash 176 as England lost the first Test and then the Ashes 3-1.

The build-up had been chaotic with Devon Malcolm struck down by chickenpox, and DeFreitas later explained that he had become unnerved by captain Mike Atherton’s last-minute decision to bowl him from the other end from where he had been warming up because the wind had apparently changed direction.

‘I got it wrong,’ admits Hussain after putting the Aussies into bat

England v South Africa
Nasser Hussain admits he ‘got it wrong” by asking Australia to bat first in 2002 (Rui Vierira/PA)

There were gasps of disbelief in 2002 when England captain Nasser Hussain won the toss and opted to bowl first.

He was forced to watch on in frustration as Australia closed day one on 364 for two and went on to romp to victory in Brisbane and win the series 4-1.

Hussain later explained he thought, as the ball was swinging in the nets, England’s best option would be to bowl first but, within 20 minutes, knew it was the wrong decision and apologised to his teammates in the dressing room at lunch.

Hussain says he later found out that Australia captain Steve Waugh was also going to bowl first had he won the toss.

Harmison’s wide sets the tone in 2006

Cricket – Liverpool Victoria County Championship – Nottingham v Durham – Trent Bridge
Steve Harmison’s first ball in 2006 was taken at second slip (Nick Potts/PA)

Steve Harmison’s first ball to Justin Langer in 2006 was so wide it was collected by skipper Andrew Flintoff at second slip and the wayward delivery set the tone for a humiliating 5-0 whitewash.

Harmison admitted that he tried too hard. He had a lack of preparation going into the game after sitting out the warm-up match in Adelaide the week before and was affected by nerves.

The former Durham paceman says the abuse from that opening delivery stayed with him for the whole nine weeks of the tour.

Cook’s third-over dismissal proves costly

Alastair Cook File Photo
Alastair Cook was out in the third over in 2017 (Adam Davy/PA)

England went into the last series on Australian soil four years ago as holders of the Ashes following their victory in England in 2015 and Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat.

However, they lost opener Alastair Cook in the third over as he edged Mitchell Starc to second slip for two and, although England recovered with the help of James Vince’s 83 to finish the opening day on 196 for four, it was not long before the Australians fought back.

Openers Cameron Bancroft and David Warner went on to break the record for the highest unbeaten opening stand in a successful run chase in a Test match as they guided their side to a 10-wicket win on their way to a 4-0 series triumph.

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