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  Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 12:17 GMT
History against England
Don Bradman walks out to bat against England
Bradman (left) turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 series win


"While there is life, there is hope" - so said the famous Roman orator Cicero.

England can take comfort from those words as they try to bounce back from defeat in the first two Tests against Australia.

But a brief look at cricket history underlines the scale of the task facing Nasser Hussain's side as they try to restore pride in the remainder of the Ashes series.

Since Test cricket was first played in 1877, only once has a team come from 2-0 down to win a five-match series.

England skipper Nasser Hussain
Hussain's England team have been outplayed

The great comeback was performed by Australia in the 1936-37 Ashes series - Don Bradman's first as captain.

Beaten convincingly in Brisbane and Sydney, it took an audacious decision by Bradman during the third Test in Melbourne to turn the tide.

After England declared their first innings at 76 for nine, conceding a first innings lead of 124, Bradman chose to send out his tail-enders to begin Australia's reply on a rain-affected pitch.

Doubling up

The move paid off and as conditions eased on the following day, Bradman himself weighed in with 270, batting at number seven, and they went on to win by 365 runs.

An innings of 212 by The Don at Adelaide enabled them to square the series and when the teams returned to Melbourne for the decider, he was among three Australian centurions as they totalled 604 all out.

The series had been turned on its head and the comeback was crowned with victory by an innings and 200 runs.

Sir Len Hutton
Hutton inspired England in the West Indies

Winning a series from 2-0 down against the 2002 Australians is surely beyond the reach of the current England team.

And there are few crumbs of comfort to offer as far as the possibility of drawing the series is concerned.

Such a feat is not, however, unprecedented for England.

Caribbean comeback

In 1954, Len Hutton's team were on the receiving end in the first two Tests of a tour to the West Indies.

They recovered to win the third game with Hutton contributing 169 and, after a draw in Trinidad, he again led from the front in the fifth with 205 as England won by nine wickets.

It will take something equally inspired from one or more of England's batsmen to breathe life into the current Ashes campaign.

Mike Brearley
Brearley: The only England skipper to win in Perth

Yet the manner of Michael Vaughan's 177 in Adelaide proved that McGrath, Gillespie, Bichel and Warne are not super-human.

Weighed against that, however, is the fact that the wicket in Perth has brought England little joy in the past.

Only once in nine previous Tests at the Waca have England come out on top, and in 1978-79 Australia were handicapped by the loss of their top players to Kerry Packer's World Series.

And it will take a giant leap of faith by England's fans to envisage a repeat this time.

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

Tour in review

Test series

Clickable guides

Background

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Links to more The Ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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