Gatting reflects on Ashes triumph
Mike Gatting vividly remembers the moment when his England side sealed victory in the 1986-87 Ashes, not to mention the celebrations that followed.
The tourists headed to Melbourne for the fourth Test of the series with a 1-0 lead, having drawn two consecutive matches following their impressive win in the first Test at Brisbane.
What followed remains ingrained in English cricketing folklore to this day as Gatting’s men swept to an innings-and-14-run success to ensure they kept hold of the famous little urn.
The triumph was sealed on the third afternoon of the game, with Gladstone Small taking the final catch in Australia’s second innings to dismiss Merv Hughes.
Jubilant scenes followed, with singer Elton John among those to join in the fun.
“There are so many good things that you can keep remembering,” Gatting told ecb.co.uk/video. “To win by tea-time on the third day, it was amazing.
“Gladstone caught the ball at deep square-leg off Phil Edmonds, Merv Hughes slog-swept him straight down his throat.
“Then Gladstone threw the ball away. He threw it into the crowd and I was thinking ‘I would have kept hold of that.’
“Elton John was there and popped into the dressing room, it was absolutely fabulous.
“Elton was doing a tour down under and it seemed like he was following the cricket around because he was in New Zealand the year before when we were there.
“'Beefy' (Ian Botham) and him were obviously very friendly, so he came down and started squirting champagne around. I didn’t really think and started squirting champagne on a very expensive silk suit which I don’t think he was that pleased about!
“But he was a very good man, he put on some parties for us and he was DJ for the night.
“Mind you, we didn’t leave the dressing room much before eight or nine o’clock - it was just a wonderful afternoon.”
England had suffered a setback ahead of the game when seamer Graham Dilley was ruled out with a knee injury.
Small was selected ahead of Neil Foster to make his Ashes bow and he shared 10 wickets with the returning Botham (who had missed the third Test due to a side strain) as the hosts were skittled for just 141.
Yet Gatting admits things hadn’t initially gone to plan.
“'Beefy' wasn’t really fit but he was desperate to play,” Gatting added.
“He saw the wicket and I think it was one of those wickets where he felt even at 75 or 80% he could run in and bowl and do something with it.
“Plus he was Ian Botham, it was Australia and if he was half-fit he was going to try and play, so he did.
“We let Gladstone open the bowling, because 'Beefy' wasn’t quite right.
“He bowled the first two or three balls and one went down the leg side, one went down the off side and I thought ‘oh no, I’ve picked the wrong bowler!’
“Anyway, he finally got the radar right, the last two of the over went very nicely, and then all of a sudden we started getting wickets.
“You could see 'Beefy' was struggling and I have to say he bowled the biggest load of pies. But he got a five-for and Gladstone got a five-for as well.“
England went on to make 349 in their first innings, with Chris Broad hitting a century for the third Test in succession, and Australia were unable to mount a fightback.
“Chris Broad batted on a different wicket all the way through,” said Gatting. ”He got a hundred again and the big thing was the tail wagged, because it was one of those wickets where you could get out early on and it wasn’t going to get any better.”
Australia rescued some pride with victory in the final Test at Sydney, but that did little to dampen England's excitement.
Gatting continued: “It was one of those very nice Test matches to play in. We got very close and I think a draw would have been the right result.”
“It didn’t work out that way and we lost, but we had won the series anyway.”