Back in 1981, Christopher Martin-Jenkins was less than enthused at the sight of yet another England-Australia rubber. He was editor of The Cricketer magazine at the time. Then Botham’s Ashes happened. Here is his editorial from the May issue of that year – all money, schedules and madness… Sound familiar?
“The prospect of an Australian touring team arriving in England to contest another series for the Ashes should tingle the blood. If it does so less than normally this summer it is because familiarity breeds contempt.
This is the fourth Australian side in five years to make an official tour of England, of one kind or another, and the fifth in seven. There used to be genuine excitement in seeing for the first time players whose exploits one had only read about and sometimes men one had hardly even heard of. But of the 16 chosen this time only Martin Kent, Terry Alderman and Dirk Wellham have not played cricket in England.
It is sad in a way that Greg Chappell decided not to come to England for family and business reasons. He is a very great batsman and his absence gives England a better chance of retaining the Ashes they won in the Jubilee year of 1977.
It is a measure of the prosperity of the leading players, engendered by the Cricket Revolution wrought by Mr Packer in that momentous year, that Chappell should be able to refuse lucrative terms for this tour. Chappell’s absence, however, means that the side will be led by Kim Hughes, whose attractive personality as well as his dashing batting should give to this team an image less tarnished than some recent Australian sides.
We wish them a happy tour, a warm, dry summer and memorable cricket. If Dennis Lillee remains fit and the younger fast bowlers, Hogg, Lawson and Alderman, bowl to their potential, England’s batsmen may be only slightly more at ease than they have been against the remorseless West Indians in their last two Test series. There should not be much between the two sides, so there is much to look forward to.”
The Wisden Cricketer magazine’s 2010-11 Ashes winning issue is on sale now