London: Memories of England’s disastrous and controversial 2006-07 tour of Australia, in which they were whitewashed 5-0 to surrender the Ashes, have been revived with James Anderson shedding light on the alcohol culture in the England camp in his soon-to-be-released autobiography.
Anderson, the leader of England’s bowling attack, recalled the mood in the touring squad that winter that ended with a drunken Andrew Flintoff falling off a Pedalo in the Caribbean during the 2007 World Cup. According to Anderson, the effects of a winless Ashes series and the antagonism from the Australian fans had worn England down to “such an extent that all sense of professionalism had been eradicated” and forced many of the players to turn to alcohol.
“There weren’t many England tourists that winter who could paint a saintly picture of themselves when it came to the consumption of alcohol in Australia. When you consider that we were an international sports team, it is shocking to consider what went on during that Ashes trip,” read extracts of Jimmy: My Story carried by All-out Cricket. “Undoubtedly, some of our guys turned to booze as a direct consequence of what was happening to us on the field against one of the best international teams in history. Things hit new lows for a lot of our Ashes squad that winter, we weren’t enjoying the tour either individually or collectively, and we were being comprehensively outplayed by a side intent on putting their name in international cricket folklore.”
Anderson singled out an incident during the triangular CB Series – which England went on to win after a shaky start – in which he and a few players, including then captain Flintoff, went out binge-drinking and broke team curfew by reaching the hotel at 6am. That particular display of immaturity, Anderon said, made him “cringe with embarrassment and regret”.
“It came on the eve of the series when, typical of the drinking culture that had developed, a few of us really went for it one night. Not any night, mind: a night 36 hours before a one-day international,” he wrote. “Now we all make mistakes, and I’ve made my share during a 10-year international career, but this escapade in Melbourne broke all the rules. In a disciplined team you do not need curfews and clock-ins because common sense prevails and players self-police – but on this tour we lacked maturity.
“There were no thoughts of anything heavy when Andrew Flintoff, Ed Joyce, Chris Read and I headed out from our Hyatt hotel base for the evening. We were just popping out for dinner and a glass of wine. But one thing led to another, a late night developed into an early morning and we ended up staggering back at 6am. We hadn’t ventured very far – both the pub and the karaoke bar we frequented were within spitting distance – but the fact that I would even consider boozing in the early hours, other than after a landmark Test victory or series-sealing one-day win, during an international tour obviously doesn’t reflect well on me.
We displayed complete disdain for the trust that had been placed in us, and such was our lack of self-respect that we sneaked into fast-food joint Hungry Jack’s – Australia’s Burger King – for breakfast before nabbing an hour’s sleep. Hardly an ideal diet for an international sportsman, let alone one that was required on the bus for practice at nine o’clock that morning,” he wrote. “Stuff like that shows how bad things had got on that tour. It had worn us down to such an extent that all sense of professionalism had been eradicated. Nights out, guzzling, were our form of escapism, our release from reality.”
Flintoff was stripped of the England captaincy after the 5-0 whitewash.