Cow Corner

The great myth of Ashes series dead-rubbers

Cow Corner

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It has long been the perception that any dead rubber in an Ashes series is won - as a tame consolation prize - by the defeated side.

England gained a reputation of only being able to beat the great Australian sides of the 90s and 00s after a series had already been comprehensively lost. Aside from looking to end on a high, are winning sides really motivated?

The reaction to England's selections for the fifth Test at The Oval was a classic example, with the hosts described as "arrogant" for picking two debutants.

England's apparent rotation policy left many asking whether they were taking what is still an Ashes Test seriously enough, and the inauspicious early showings from Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan prompted further frustration.

It was regarded as yet another example of a side winning a big series, then completely switching off and allowing the opposition to have a free run at a consolation victory.

But the assumption that triumphant teams ease off in dead-rubber Ashes Tests appears to be entirely wrong: a common myth.

This is the 13th Ashes Test that England have played after winning the series. Of the previous 12, they have won five, lost three (including their last in 1986/87) and drawn four.

Australia, meanwhile, have played Ashes 32 dead rubber Tests as the series victor, winning 19, losing nine and drawing four.

After losing three consecutive dead rubber Tests in 1993, 1997 and 2001 (Headingley), they have won four of the last five, starting with Oval 2001.

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All statistics provided by Opta Sports

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