When `Lillian Thomson` reduced England to Ashes
Sydney: However quick the fast bowlers are in the upcoming Tests, they are unlikely to match the pace, skill and sheer, spell-binding ferocity of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, who inspired Australia`s double victory in the last back-to-back Ashes series.
It was nearly 40 years ago that the celebrated duo, dubbed "Lillian Thomson", led a 4-1 home-series rout of arch-rivals England in 1974/75, and then paired again for a 1-0 away win in 1975.
England, captained by a Scot in Mike Denness, arrived in Australia without their two best players, even though neither was injured.
Opening batsman Geoff Boycott, unhappy at being overlooked for the captaincy, was in a self-imposed Test exile that would last three years.
And fast bowler John Snow, deemed an awkward character by officialdom, was left out despite starring in England`s victorious 1970/71 Ashes tour.
The first Test in Brisbane saw the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, both score fifties in a first-innings total of 309 where England fast bowler Bob Willis took four wickets.
England`s reply of 265 was notable for a brilliant 110 by towering all-rounder Tony Greig in which the South Africa-born showman also riled Australia by signalling his own boundaries.
But Thomson, deploying the yorker to excellent effect and well-supported by a ring of close catchers led by wicketkeeping great Rodney Marsh, took six for 46 in England`s second innings as Australia won by 166 runs.
An injury-hit England summoned Colin Cowdrey, just shy of his 42nd birthday, from his home in Kent in the hope the veteran stylist would somehow blunt the impact of Lillee and Thomson on the super-fast pitch of Perth.
Cowdrey fell to Thomson on both occasions but courageously batted for more than four hours in total on what was the fastest surface in world cricket.
Thomson`s second-innings five for 63 sealed a nine-wicket victory set up by centuries from Ross Edwards and Doug Walters, the latter scoring a hundred runs in a session and completing his ton with a six.
England clung on for a draw in the third Test at Melbourne where Thomson took his tally for three Tests to 24 wickets.
Denness, after managing just 65 runs in six innings, dramatically dropped himself for the fourth Test in Sydney.
Thomson took another four-wicket haul, with Greg Chappell and Ian Redpath both scoring hundreds, in Australia`s 171-run win.
And Australia then sealed the series in Adelaide by 163 runs, despite spinner Derek Underwood`s match haul of 11 for 215 and Kent colleague Alan Knott, one of the great wicketkeeper/batsmen, scoring an unbeaten 106.
Never was the value of two men demonstrated more vividly by their absence than when Thomson missed the sixth Test in Melbourne through injury and Lillee broke down after six overs.
Denness, who`d returned in the previous Test at Adelaide, scored a Test-best 188 in a match England won by an innings and four runs.
Thomson took 33 wickets at 17.93 in the series and Lillee 25 at 23.84, while Greg Chappell averaged 55.27 with two hundreds and five fifties.
With the inaugural 1975 World Cup in England disrupting usual tour schedules, Australia arrived for a four-match series.
Normal service was resumed during an innings and 85-run win where Denness, taking a chance on the weather forecast, sent Australia in to bat only for the tourists to score 359.
And then on a now rain-affected surface, the tourists dismissed England for 101 with Lillee and unsung third seamer Max Walker taking five wickets apiece.
Australia won by an innings and 85 runs, with England`s Graham Gooch making two ducks on his Test debut.
Denness was dropped, never to play Test cricket again, with England, now under the dynamic leadership of Greig, creditably drawing the next three matches.
They included a bizarre third Test at Headingley, which was abandoned before the fifth day started after the pitch was vandalised by protestors campaigning for the release of wrongly convicted armed robber George Davis.